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The Janeway Children’s Health and Rehabilitation Centre has been and continues to be a cornerstone in our province - one that represents a long history of compassion, commitment and promise of providing excellence in pediatric health care.   

The Impossible Dream

Building a free-standing children’s hospital in the mid 1960’s was considered an “impossible dream” by some, especially in a province that was thought of as underprivileged by North American standards, and in a country where such hospitals only existed in major cities.  Five decades ago, the prevailing philosophy of the day was to incorporate pediatric care with adult care in the same hospital. However, that soon changed with the influence of some key pediatricians.
(l-r:) The Honourable Joseph R. Smallwood; Dr. Clifton Joy; Dr. Charles A. Janeway
(l-r:) The Honourable Joseph R. Smallwood; Dr. Clifton Joy; Dr. Charles A. Janeway

One of our local physicians, Dr. Cliffton Joy, was a leading proponent for pediatric hospital separate from adult care.  Three factors led to determining the fate of the first stand-alone children’s hospital in Newfoundland and Labrador, including:
  • In 1961, a building that once housed the American military hospital in Pleasantville, St. John’s became available due to the decommissioning of Fort Pepperrell as an American Military base and was returned to the Government of Canada and later to Newfoundland and Labrador. Although extensive renovation was required at that time, it was less expensive to open a children’s hospital here than to build a new hospital from the ground up.
  • In 1963, an E. coli breakout resulted in approximately 100 deaths among children in Newfoundland and Labrador, which highlighted the need for a concerted focus on children’s health care.
  • In late December 1963, Dr. Joy invited his colleague, Dr. Charles Alderson Janeway, to St. John’s to look at options for the care of children.  Dr. Janeway was a pioneer in modern science of immunology, and was instrumental in expanding the Boston Children’s Hospital (USA) into a tertiary care centre.  During his visit, Dr. Janeway met with then Premier, the Honourable Joey R. Smallwood, where they shared discussions on the importance of a separate children’s hospital for the province. With the support from Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, what some considered the “impossible dream” hospital then became a reality.

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Updated May 31, 2016