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Can Bull Med Hist. 2019;36(1):112-130. doi: 10.3138/cbmh.249-022018. Epub 2019 Mar 22.

University of Alberta Hospital Acute and Convalescent Polio Care and the Reintegration of Polio Patients into Albertan Communities, 1953-80.

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Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Alberta.


Following Canada's largest polio epidemic in 1953, Station 67 at the University of Alberta Hospital (UAH) in Edmonton became home to patients who contracted the virus. As young as nine years old, some of these patients lived at the UAH for more than three decades. Akin to wartime services, the epidemic banded together families, patients, doctors, nurses, community members, and later respiratory, physical, and occupational therapists. The nature of the disease, the government response, and the social and economic climate dramatically affected the lived experiences of patients in Alberta's fight against polio. Drawing on archival research and oral interviews, this article argues that it was the agency and resilience of patients, the contributions of healthcare providers to rapid developments in acute and convalescent care, and the dedication of families that were primarily responsible for the recovery and reintegration of polio patients back into the community.


Alberta polio epidemic; Hôpital de l’Université de l’Alberta; University of Alberta Hospital; community reintegration; disability advocacy; défense des personnes handicapées; entrevues orales; epidémie de polio en Alberta; intensive care unit; interdisciplinary care; oral interviews; poliomyelitis; poliomyélite; rehabilitation; réadaptation; réintégration communautaire; soins interdisciplinaires; unité de soins intensifs


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