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Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Winnipeg's Rehab Hospital turns 50 !

Rehab Hospital

On September 14, 1962 the Rehab Hospital at the Health Sciences Centre turns 50. When opened by the Sanatorium Board of Manitoba in 1962 it was Western Canada's first such hospital, dedicated to the treatment and recovery of the injured and disabled. (For a history of the Rehab Hospital, check out my Winnipeg Downtown Places post !)

I have a personal connection with the place. Back in 1985 or so I got my hand caught in a binding machine while helping out at my Dad's print shop. My finger was saved but it took months of OT to make sure that things reattached properly and it stayed flexible.

Living in North Kildonan, this meant a minimum two hour round trip on the bus for a 40 minute session. I decided that to make it worth my while, I might as well help out as a volunteer.

My three month stint turned into six years and over 500 hours of service, mostly working on the Rehab's wards directly with patients. It was a great experience for a teenager. I got to meet and know people from all walks of life and every corner of the province, all going through life-changing circumstances. I learned early that that whether someone is from a poor, remote reserve or confined to a wheelchair, they're not really much different than a white, able-bodied kid from the suburbs
.

HSC Campus

I loved the work and have to admit that I
fell in love with the building designed by Moody, Moore and Partners, (who filled in a lot of the HSC campus in the 60s and 70s.) It is sleek and clean and doesn't feel too much like a hospital, at least not by 1960s standards. There are large windows on every side, an outdoor courtyard and open air balconies at the end of each ward (long since closed.)

HSC Campus

In later years I volunteered in other parts of the hospital and was a staffer for six years in a job that gave me access to pretty much every building and I grew very fond of the sprawling campus. If you love architecture, there's nothing like it in the entire province. In a few square blocks you can check out some great architecture ranging from the 1890s to 2010s.

Anyway, happy 50th Rehab Hospital !

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