A centennial coin full of memories – a SickKids patient’s Canada 150+ story
By Megan Hutchison, Intern, Strategic Communications
Jennifer Rock woke up at SickKids on July 1, 1967, four days after her corrective urologic surgery, to a special gift from the hospital – a coin commemorating Canada’s centennial. Surprised by the present, she pulled herself up and joined the other children marveling at the Canada Day parade marching past their windows on Elm Street. This is how patients on the sixth floor of SickKids celebrated Canada’s 100th birthday 50 years ago.
Today, the coin is a fond reminder of her hospital stay. An estimated 336 inpatients received the coin on Canada Day. Jennifer was 11 years old and says she still remembers the great care she received. While there were no therapeutic clowns or entertainers that came by the ward as they do today, children would race stretchers and wheelchairs for fun through the doors held open by nurses of the ward, says Jennifer. “When you are 10 or 11, you don’t know that you are sick,” said Jennifer, who is now 61. “I was allowed to still be a child as I healed.”
She even ran with her five drainage bags and tubes sloshing around her body with every step she took. For those that could not run, they were the riders as their friends propelled them around an imaginary racetrack. “If a child tumbled and a fluid bag burst, the nurses would estimate how much fluid was lost and the games would continue,” said Jennifer.
Where were her parents during these shenanigans? In 1967, parents were not able to stay overnight with their children (the hospital conducted its first limited pilot study of family-centred care in 1968). Jennifer’s mother would travel to SickKids from rural Brampton to see her every day, and then travel back home with Jennifer’s father after he finished work in the city. Jennifer still remembers the young medical intern who took care of her during her stay at SickKids. “He drew a smile on my big toe the day before my surgery, something my mother would never allow me to do,” said Jennifer. “It’s amazing all the little things that make or break an experience.”
This year, SickKids’ Child Life program celebrated Canada’s 150th birthday with an event featuring maple treats, Canadian-themed crafts, a bounce house and other family games. Fifty years later, this is one of the many ways SickKids continues to celebrate our history as well as Canada’s history. To find more ways we’re recognizing Canada 150 all year long, visit our Canada 150+ gallery.