Some patients take their first steps at West Park after recovering from injury or illness. Some patients, decades ago, also took their very first steps as child TB patients at West Park. Brian Kilbride is one of the very few patients who can say they did both.
Kilbride, who recently had a double knee replacement, originally thought nothing special of coming to West Park for a one week stay for rehab. Only after friends explained he was actually returning to the former TB sanatorium he knew as The Sans, called West Park since 1976, did Kilbride realize he was coming back to his old stomping grounds – where he literally first learned to stomp around.
His first stay in 1961 was a longer six-month stretch in the children’s building of the hospital for treatment of tuberculosis when he was just 14 months old. His mother had a more serious case of TB, requiring a nine month stay and three-quarters of her lung removed.
Kilbride and his mother credit West Park with saving their lives.
“You owe your life to West Park,” Kilbride says, speaking on behalf of himself and his mother. “It had a huge impact on our family, and became part of our family legacy.”
During his first stay, Kilbride’s grandparents traveled to West Park via public transit from Longbranch every day to visit him while he was recovering 57 years ago. “It really changed the dynamic of our family, for the better,” he recalls.
Although during their first stays, Kilbride and his mother had no contact while they both recovered from TB, they did get to see each other during this recent stay. Kilbride describes his mother as feeling “overwhelmed and excited” on her visits, seeing old pictures in the halls that brought up emotional memories.
Kilbride walked out of West Park, healthy and with solid footing, for the second time in his life, but he doesn’t plan to end his journey with the hospital just yet. “I would definitely come back to the new hospital in four years, even just for the museum,” he says.