It has been a slow steady decline for Chedoke Hospital on Hamilton’s West Mountain. At one time the facility was an internationally acclaimed site of rehabilitation, for more than half a century it was a tuberculosis sanitarium. But over the years various programs were stripped away and now the future of Chedoke Hospital is up in the air as the last of its patients will be transferred by the end of the year, leaving only some administration staff. Parts of the original picturesque campus on the mountain brow have been sold off to residential developers. Hamilton Health Sciences, who own the multi-building facility are even having trouble getting residents to attend public meetings aimed at determining the future for the site.
What started out as a tuberculosis sanitarium in 1906 on donated farmland, grew into a full fledged tuberculosis sanitarium through the 1920’s and 30’s when many of the existing buildings were built. During this period the Rev.Calvin McQuesten, the brother of Thomas B McQuesten the politician who founded the RBG and built the Queen Elizabeth Way served as a Chaplain. Dr Hugo Turnbull Ewart who was appointed Medical Superintendent in 1947 had the distinction of presiding over the Hospital’s greatest period of growth and also the beginning of its decline.” In 1951 the facility housed 754 beds for tuberculosis patients. But the decline in the need for sanatoria was already underway with the discovery of powerful antibiotics that were being administered to tubercular patients. The number of cases of tuberculosis had fallen by half during the 1950’s. The hospital was able to make up part of the loss of patients by accepting Inuit patients who had no access to treatment, but the end was near.
By the early 1960s the last of the tuberculosis patients had been discharged and the hospital entered a new era as a centre for rehabilitation coupled with a children’s hospital. A Nursing school was established as well as schools of radiology and medical technology. In 1968 it looked like a new purpose was found for the site as McMaster University opened its newly founded School of Medicine on the campus but it was short-lived as McMaster built a new hospital at the University Campus in west Hamilton in 1972 and relocated the School of Medicine there. The nursing and technology programs were transferred to Mohawk College around the same time. By 1977 the Ministry of Health had shut down all of Chedoke’s active treatment beds as a general hospital and henceforth the facility’s role was as a rehabilitation, chronic care and community health centre. With those programs now being moved to a new facility adjacent to Hamilton General Hospital, HHSC is trying to engage the public in determining what the future will be for the campus which sits on prime mountain brow land.
The public engagement campaign, has a website:www.ourhealthyfuture.ca