Hamilton Health Sciences


A Historical Perspective

The Hamilton Health Sciences Volunteer Association (HHSVA) was established in 2000, and yet, its rich history dates back to the turn of the 20th century. The following is a historical overview of the two organizations that were later merged to become HHSVA as we know it today.

Volunteer Association of Chedoke-McMaster Hospitals

In 1906, Chedoke Hospital began as a tuberculosis sanatorium with the first patients, health care staff and volunteers located in two tents on the escarpment brow site. Construction soon got under way to build what would be called the largest tuberculosis sanatorium in the British Commonwealth. At this time Chedoke Hospital was called the Hamilton Mountain Sanatorium.

By the 1950's, the Ladies Auxiliary of volunteers had established shops throughout Chedoke site in the Wilcox, Holbrook and Evel buildings. In 1961, the Ladies Auxiliary changed its name to the Volunteer Association of Chedoke Hospital in an effort to open their volunteer recruitment to males.

In 1971 McMaster University Medical Centre was opened. Under the leadership of Joyce Ralph the McMaster Medical Centre Volunteer Association was created. Through various fundraising activities the association accumulated capital and was able to establish shops and services throughout the hospital including gift, flower, barber and beauty boutiques, and coffee kiosks. Similar fundraising efforts by the Volunteer Association of Chedoke Hospital resulted in their expansion with the establishment of another coffee shop in the hospital's Complex Continuing Care building located on the mountain brow.

Both organizations saw much growth over the next 10 years. The McMaster Medical Centre Volunteer Association expanded to six shops and over 15 employees, while the Volunteer Association of Chedoke Hospital operated seven shops and employed five staff. Both organizations maintained a large presence of volunteers in the operation of their retail locations.

The goal of both the Chedoke and McMaster Volunteer Associations was to promote the welfare of their hospitals and patients by providing supplementary services, comforts and amenities. Funds raised through their various shops and services were used to purchase equipment at their respective sites.

In 1982, following the merger of Chedoke and McMaster Hospitals, the two volunteer associations merged to become the Volunteer Association of Chedoke-McMaster Hospitals.

Hamilton Civic Hospitals Volunteer Association

In 1921, the Women's Auxiliary of the Hamilton General Hospital was established. The Auxiliary, created by a group of 17 women, was formed as a result of the growing importance of volunteers made most evident by the flu epidemic of 1919. The goals of the newly formed Auxiliary were to contribute funds to the hospital, make surgical supplies and garments, and to supply donated clothes to destitute patients. In its first year the Auxiliary grew to over 51 volunteer members.

By 1962, their membership had more then tripled to 190 members, eight affiliated groups, and 10 church societies. The Auxiliary was very active in the hospital and the surrounding community including the establishment of a summer camp in Burlington for children with cardiac problems and, during the Depression years, the operation of an emergency soup kitchen. In April 1938, the Auxiliary incorporated, elected a Board of Directors and appointed officers.

During World War II, the Auxiliary's volunteers provided assistance throughout the hospital including a canteen service on the wards to provide relief and refreshments to hospital staff. In 1947, the General Hospital Gift Shop was opened. Initially managed solely by volunteers, the Auxiliary hired their first paid employee in 1952 to assist with its operation. Expanding to the Henderson General Hospital (now Juravinski Hospital & Cancer Centre), the organization opened the Henderson Hospital Gift Shop (now Juravinski Gift Shop) and established a volunteer canteen cart service to the hospital's wards in 1954.

In 1962, the Auxiliary established a permanent office, staffed by a secretary, bookkeeper and volunteer coordinator. The Auxiliary was granted charitable status in 1968, with its largest contribution in 1970 towards the reconstruction of both the General and Henderson Hospital entrances.

In 1974, the Auxiliary legally changed its name to the Hamilton Civic Hospitals Volunteer Association. By 1990, the Association pledged $1 million dollars to the 5 Star General (Building) Campaign, which included the construction of a new gift shop and cafe. These two retail locations saw further redevelopment and expansion in the early 1990's. In December 1996, the Association donated $500,000 to the 'Mend-a-Broken Heart' Campaign and opened the Henderson's Atrium Café.

Merger of the Hamilton Civic and Chedoke-McMaster Volunteer Associations

In 1999, the membership of the Chedoke-McMaster and Hamilton Civic Hospital Volunteer Associations voted in favor of merging into one organization spanning the four hospitals of Hamilton Health Sciences. On January 1st, 2000, the Hamilton Health Sciences Volunteer Association (HHSVA) was formed, becoming a fully incorporated non-profit organization.

Hamilton Health Sciences Volunteer Association

Since the merger, HHSVA has continued to grow with the addition of many services across the Hamilton Health Sciences family of hospitals including Parking Services.  Funds raised through the various shops, services and parking has generated over $60 million since 2010. These funds have been donated towards the purchase of equipment and funding of programs that fulfill HHSVA's mission to enhance patient care and quality of life for the HHS community through the donation of profits from retail services and the recognition and support of volunteers.

HHSVA takes pride in its many contributions to enhancing patient care, made possible through the successful operation and growth of its shops and services. This success is made possible by the dedication of over 200 HHSVA staff, more than 1000 volunteers and the support of thousands of loyal customers.

Hamilton Health Sciences • Hamilton, Ontario • 905.521.2100

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