The Janeway: 50 Years of Caring For Children

The Janeway: 50 Years of Caring For Children

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Dr. Rick Cooper shares his insight and knowledge on the history of the Janeway, along with intimate stories from patients, pediatricians, nurses and more

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The Janeway Children’s Health and Rehabilitation Centre — more commonly referred to as simply the Janeway — serves as a primary clinical resource for pediatric and obstetric teaching and research. Through a broad range of health professions in medicine, nursing and related health services, the hospital and university work together. 

I’m sure you’ve heard, or participated in the Annual Janeway Children’s Miracle Network Telethon, this year being the 34th. Ran by The Janeway Children’s Hospital Foundation, the charitable organization raises funds to benefit the health care of Newfoundland and Labrador’s children. Donations contribute to the purchase of the latest in modern medical equipment, the continued education of Janeway Hospital staff, and the research and programs.

Dr. Rick Cooper 

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The Janeway recently celebrated 50 years of operation, providing quality pediatric health-care services to children of Newfoundland and Labrador. For over 40 of those years, Dr. Rick Cooper has been a pediatrician there, helping thousands of children from all across the province. Cooper trained in infectious diseases and pediatrics, beginning work at the Janeway in 1974.  

“I did oncology, general pediatrics. The university salary was small and you know, I had five kids. I was working on the weekends, I worked in emergency rooms, I kept ‘er going,” he shared during an intimate interview with The Herald. 

Dr. Cooper says he’s always been interested in the history of medicine, which especially heightened during his time as a student. 

“About 35 years ago I joined a group, medical history in St. John’s, and I got presented stuff and I really, really enjoyed it. Then about 10 years ago, I thought look, there’s so much stuff going on, this needs to be recorded. So, I wrote a book about the Janeway!”

Janeway Developments 

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Upon asking what motivated him to write a book specifically about the children and the programs, Dr. Cooper said he had many reasons. One being the fascinating history. When he first began working at the Janeway, it was only eight years old and had very limited services. He shared that the only thing fully up to date at the time, was surgery. 

“There were general pediatricians coming from all the other hospitals, now they were good, but there was nothing really cutting edge academically. That’s the change I think I helped with, along with many other great people,” he explained.

“There were nurses that went off and trained in different areas, newborn, oncology, and then we developed programs in cystic fibrosis, asthma, oncology, neonatology, and we hired a lot of specialists. Within a few years, we were up to standard for our size. In fact, for a bigger hospital providing tertiary healthcare for children that was, in my opinion, very good.”

A Great Story 

There was a book written in the 1990’s about the Janeway, however it was written from an administrators point of view. Dr. Cooper wanted to talk about the children, from their point of view, and how the programs developed over time. 

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“It’s all about the programs, and then there’s the history. I’m surprised that they put the Janeway where they did, but they did. In fact, when I was a medical student, all the old doctors were against it saying it’s not practical, it needs to be near the university, and they were right. But it wasn’t, and it was still a success,” Cooper shared.

“I thought to myself, this has to be written. It’s a great story.” All in all, the Janeway has an interesting history with no shortage in stories. The Janeway has always been extremely supportive of the medical and nursing schools, as well as the pharmacy students.

“I wanted people to take away that Newfoundland, a poor province, isolated, small population, has one of the better, if not the best, pediatric healthcare centres in Canada. For what we do, we do it well. Will that continue? What will it be like in 100 years? I’m not sure, there are other issues down the road. It’ll take dedication, and we got well trained pediatricians now.”

For your copy of The Janeway: 50 Years of Caring for Children, head over to boulderpublications.ca. For more info on the Janeway Telethon, visit: janewayfoundation.nf.ca/telethon 

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