West Park Healthcare Centre was founded by philanthropist Sir William Gage and the National Sanitarium Association (NSA) on Sept. 2, 1904 as the Toronto Free Hospital for Consumptive Poor. It was one of the first centres in Canada devoted to treating patients with advanced cases of tuberculosis (TB).
At the turn of the century, the worldwide mortality rate of TB was very high. In the subsequent decades, the hospital expanded to include new buildings and services to meet the needs of adults and children living with TB.
By the 1930s, the hospital had become one of the largest sanitariums in Canada, accommodating some 650 TB patients. Of the 6,695 patients admitted during the hospital's first 25 years of operation, 45% did not survive, despite receiving the best possible care and the most up-to-date treatment at the time.
During the 1950s, the hospital's services expanded to include chronic care.
By the mid-1940s, research, community education and the development of improved methods of treatment - primarily surgical procedures and the development of antibiotics - had reduced the death rate from 45% to 26%. Demand for TB beds subsequently decreased as the demand for hospital beds for patients with chronic illness and disabilities increased. Consequently, the hospital's focus shifted from being an exclusively TB care hospital to also providing chronic care and rehabilitation services.
In 1972, the facility was designated a chronic hospital under the Public Hospitals' Act. In 1976, the facility was renamed West Park Hospital, after governance was passed from the National Sanitarium Association to a volunteer-led Board of Directors.
Throughout the rest of the decade, the hospital continued to experience significant expansion. While branching out into rehabilitation and chronic care, the centre maintained a focus on the provision of specialized services in respiratory medicine.
Today, West Park provides rehabilitation, complex continuing and long-term care services. At West Park's June 2000 Annual General Meeting, a new name, West Park Healthcare Centre, was given to the facility to reflect the addition of long-term care services to its continuum of care.
Today, West Park Healthcare Centre is known as the regional adult rehabilitation centre for the western Greater Toronto Area and is a local provider of complex continuing care and long-term care services. West Park remains home to Ontario's only in-patient TB unit and has become internationally renowned for its expertise in respiratory and physical medicine.