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100 years: Celebrating the Civic’s centennial as a community

Historic image of the Ottawa Civic Hospital

Before The Ottawa Hospital (TOH)’s Civic Campus first opened 100 years ago, medicine was much different than it is today. 

Pain medicine, and vaccines were scarce. Antibiotics, cancer and dialysis treatments were nonexistent. Many people were born at home. And the flu pandemic of 1918-1920 had just cut its destructive path across the globe.

Since then, TOH’s Civic Campus has evolved with the city to play host to countless pivotal moments in the community—and the city’s business community. 

That’s why The Ottawa Hospital Foundation (TOHF) launched its 100 Moments campaign: To commemorate 100 unique moments from the past century to celebrate the Civic’s 100th birthday.

A pillar of the community

Ottawa’s Mayor back in 1924, Harold Fisher, believed the community had a right to world-class medical care. “And that was the vision to build the Civic Hospital at that time,” explains Dr. Virginia Roth, TOH’s Chief of Staff and an infectious diseases specialist. 

Dr. Virginia Roth, Chief of Staff, the Ottawa Hospital
Dr. Virginia Roth, Chief of Staff, The Ottawa Hospital

It has provided a variety of care to trauma patients, cardiac/stroke patients, patients giving birth, and much more. And throughout the years, staff at the Civic have been here to provide that care.  

More recently, the Civic Campus has played a vital role in the community response to significant events or tragedies. It was the trauma centre where critically ill patients were taken following the Westboro bus crash of 2019, and provided vital critical care during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

An economic driver

The Ottawa Hospital is one of the region’s largest employers, with more than 17,000 physicians, nurses, clerks, technologists, researchers, scheduling coordinators, maintenance staff, and others working at the hospital. 

Since 2001, research at The Ottawa Hospital has had a $2.2B economic impact on Ottawa’s economy and has resulted in more than a dozen spin-off companies. 

High-level medical research and clinical care at the Civic Campus aren’t just economic drivers; along with Ottawa’s reputation as a great place to live, they’re also a magnet for world-class talent.

“We bring trainees from across the world who often then come to stay,” explains Dr. Roth, “and we’ve also been able to attract internationally-recognized researchers, who then employ research teams and support staff. And our community, I think, can take great pride that people come to visit, they explore, and many of them choose to stay here and contribute back.”

But the Civic Campus’s past economic impact pales somewhat compared to plans for the new state-of-the-art healthcare facility and academic research centre near Dow’s Lake.

According to a 2021 Deloitte report, the project will inject more than $2 billion into Ottawa’s economy, contribute more than $1.2 billion in labour income, create more than 4,000 full time jobs and generate a total economic output of more than $3.75 billion.  

The Ottawa Hospital: The next 100 years

The Civic Campus has evolved considerably since it was just a single building on the then-outskirts of the city. It has added numerous specialty care offerings such as its Trauma Services Centre and Regional Stroke Centre, offers best-in-class surgery, and is a leader in conducting clinical trials to determine the safety and effectiveness of treatments.

As the facility approaches its 100th birthday, Dr. Roth says the hospital is ready to enter a new era—partially thanks to the construction of the new hospital campus equipped to handle tomorrow’s challenges. It will mean world-leading innovation and research that will accelerate improvements of care and reshape the way patients are treated in the future. 

“We have an opportunity as a city and as a community to build for the future, much like Mayor Fisher had 100 years ago, also in the wake of a pandemic. The Ottawa Hospital will be known as a leading healthcare hub,” she explains.

“It’s going to be a completely different reality 10, 20, 30 years from now than it is now. And the new campus will give us the opportunity to design a physical space that will elevate both our ability to provide world-leading care, but also what patients and families experience when they come into the building.”

Were you or a family member born at the Civic? Have you worked there? From now until November 27, 2024 — the Civic’s 100th birthday — TOH Foundation will look back at 100 unique moments from the past century. We want to hear your best Civic memories, and you can submit your memory and photo here