Treating patients one by one can be effective, but may not address bigger issues that influence the health of the people in a community. When health professions aim their sights on the health of whole communities, rather than on individuals, this is called “public health.”

Public health programs often reach beyond the hospital’s walls, to work on the prevention, detection and treatment of disease in the community.

Hospitals have a special role to play in health promotion for communities. Find out how…

Because hospitals are expensive institutions to build and operate, small communities in Canada often had no permanent health care facilities. To bring health care to these small or remote communities, the Red Cross in the 1920s and 30s set up rail cars as clinics. They were staffed by nurses (and perhaps a doctor), and outfitted with a small examination area, an area for minor surgery, patient beds, and a living area for the staff.

When considering the persistent problem of tuberculosis (TB) in Canada, doctors and health care officials recognized that early diagnosis was crucial. Early diagnosis gave a patient a be Read More
Treating patients one by one can be effective, but may not address bigger issues that influence the health of the people in a community. When health professions aim their sights on the health of whole communities, rather than on individuals, this is called “public health.”

Public health programs often reach beyond the hospital’s walls, to work on the prevention, detection and treatment of disease in the community.

Hospitals have a special role to play in health promotion for communities. Find out how…

Because hospitals are expensive institutions to build and operate, small communities in Canada often had no permanent health care facilities. To bring health care to these small or remote communities, the Red Cross in the 1920s and 30s set up rail cars as clinics. They were staffed by nurses (and perhaps a doctor), and outfitted with a small examination area, an area for minor surgery, patient beds, and a living area for the staff.

When considering the persistent problem of tuberculosis (TB) in Canada, doctors and health care officials recognized that early diagnosis was crucial. Early diagnosis gave a patient a better chance for survival, and minimized the chance that the disease would spread to others.

The task was to find out who had the disease but might still feel well, and not yet show any symptoms. The strategy: mass surveys.

Mass surveys of the population began in the 1930s and continued through to the 1980s. At first, the best screening method was by x-ray. However, many Canadian communities didn’t have an x-ray machine, so mobile x-ray units were assembled in trucks and boats, and visited different communities.

Today, most TB testing in Canada is done by a skin-prick test instead of an x-ray.

Hospital buildings sometimes function to keep disease-causing bacteria and viruses contained. This helps to keep the disease from spreading through the population. When hospitals restrict the movement of people in and out of an area where people are infected with communicable disease, it’s called a quarantine.

Between 1832 and 1937, the quarantine station at Grosse Isle, Québec, inspected shiploads of immigrants to Canada for diseases like cholera and smallpox. Those found to have the disease were kept in a quarantine hospital until they recovered.

Another type of quarantine hospital was the tuberculosis sanatorium. From 1900 through the 1950s, these hospitals kept patients with TB away from the rest of society.

© CMST & UHN 2002. All Rights Reserved.

Red Cross hospital railcar Fort Frances

Red Cross hospital railcar Fort Frances, Ontario

Photo courtesy of CN
1929
© CMST & UHN 2002. All Rights Reserved.


X-ray mass survey unit

X-ray mass survey unit, Manitoba 1963

Photo courtesy of Western Canada Pictorial Index
1963
© Western Canada Pictorial Index


Hospital in Quarantine

Hospital in Quarantine

Canada Science and Technology Museum and the University Health Network Artifact Collection

© CMST & UHN 2002. All Rights Reserved.


In the early 1980s, doctors around the world began to encounter a terrifying new disease that seemed impossible to cure. It soon was defined as Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), and thought to be caused by a virus, called Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). The first AIDS case in Canada was reported in February 1982.

It was recognized that HIV was transmitted sexually, and so public health campaigns focussed on promoting safer sex practices to prevent the disease from spreading. These buttons date from a campaign in Toronto around 1990.

During the Second World War, the government of Canada became concerned for the health of its soldiers.

Many soldiers were being diagnosed with sexually transmitted disease, as a result of sexual activities while on leave. The military had a big problem on its hands.

It decided to produce posters informing soldiers and officers of the risks of sex with strangers.

These posters seemed to imply that it was “loose women” that spread disease—for some reason women were perceived as extra dangerous when it came to sexually transmitted disease. Do you think this is true? Wh Read More
In the early 1980s, doctors around the world began to encounter a terrifying new disease that seemed impossible to cure. It soon was defined as Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), and thought to be caused by a virus, called Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). The first AIDS case in Canada was reported in February 1982.

It was recognized that HIV was transmitted sexually, and so public health campaigns focussed on promoting safer sex practices to prevent the disease from spreading. These buttons date from a campaign in Toronto around 1990.

During the Second World War, the government of Canada became concerned for the health of its soldiers.

Many soldiers were being diagnosed with sexually transmitted disease, as a result of sexual activities while on leave. The military had a big problem on its hands.

It decided to produce posters informing soldiers and officers of the risks of sex with strangers.

These posters seemed to imply that it was “loose women” that spread disease—for some reason women were perceived as extra dangerous when it came to sexually transmitted disease. Do you think this is true? What about loose men?

Since the 1990s, hospitals and clinics in Canada have offered a “flu shot” to people who wish to protect themselves from the flu epidemic that we experience almost every winter. Each epidemic is really a new strain of the virus. The shot (a vaccine) is made from dead fragments of a selected group of viruses that researchers predict will cause the next epidemic.

The shot can make you feel a little sick. And you can get the shot and yet still get sick with a virus that the shot didn’t cover. Nonetheless, the vaccine is reported to be 70-90% effective.

In 2001 the province of Ontario was the first jurisdiction in North America to provide the flu shot free to whoever wanted it.

© CMST & UHN 2002. All Rights Reserved.

Poster 1920

This poster was made in the 1920s to warn Canadian school kids of the dangers of spitting. Why did kids have to be reminded not to spit? It wasn't just because it was rude and gross (it still is), but because of the danger of spreading tuberculosis (TB).

Canada Science and Technology Museum and the University Health Network Artifact Collection
c. 1920
© CMST & UHN 2002. All Rights Reserved.


Public awareness campaign

Public awareness campaign buttons Toronto, 1990

Canada Science and Technology Museum and the University Health Network Artifact Collection
1990
© CMST & UHN 2002. All Rights Reserved.


Information Board

Poster designed for Canada's Wartime Information Board

Image courtesy of National Archives of Canada

© National Archives of Canada


Flu Shot Cart

Flu shot cart for vaccinating the staff at Toronto General Hospital, 2000.

Canada Science and Technology Museum and the University Health Network Artifact Collection
2000
© CMST & UHN 2002. All Rights Reserved.


Learning Objectives

The learner will:
  • Observe evolution of hospitals, tools and treatments throughout the twentieth century;
  • Identify the evolution of medical technology and discuss its contribution to treatment and medical care;
  • Illustrate concepts in biology, identify specific diseases and treatments offered (past and present).

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