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'I knew it has something special': Here's what you need to know about CHEO

CHEO is seen in this undated file photo. (Aaron Reid/CTV News Ottawa) CHEO is seen in this undated file photo. (Aaron Reid/CTV News Ottawa)
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Fifty years of service and CHEO continues to be a major institution in the nation's capital serving children and families.

CHEO has grown to serve surrounding areas, including eastern Ontario, western Quebec and Nunavut to become "a go to place for so many kids and families," CHEO chief of staff Dr. Lindy Samson told CFRA Live on Newstalk 580 CFRA on Saturday.

"When I first came to CHEO, as a medical student in 1989, I knew it has something special and that it was gonna be able to do great things for kids and families," said Dr. Samson. "And I came back shortly after graduating from medical school and here I am still and it's great to see how CHEO has grown."

Samson says the most important thing at CHEO is to give kids the best life that they can, noting the importance of the hard work CHEO employees do to save lives.

"Everyone here wants to continue to see what we can do better and differently to improve the lives of kids," she added.

She notes that CHEO is proud of its medical staff, citing the tough few years following the COVID-19 pandemic that added strain not only on healthcare but also on healthcare workers.

There are many ways to support CHEO, she notes, such as volunteering or giving input about ways to do better. To donate, visit CHEO's website.

"We are so grateful for the support we have from this incredible community. That's one of the key things that've kept CHEO being able to do great things," she added.

Over the last half century, CHEO has grown into a major research institute, and it offers a full spectrum of care beyond emergency medicine, including schooling, autism services, mental health treatments, rehabilitation services, palliative care and training for health professionals. It now helps more than half a million children every year.

The hospital opened on May 17, 1974, treating patients through outpatient clinics. The first patient was hospitalized at CHEO on July 22, 1974. Over the course of that year, CHEO would expand with an emergency department and other facilities. It had three patient floors, 301 inpatient beds, eight operating rooms, a 10-bed PICU, and a a 20-bed NICU. Patients were accepted up to age 16. Today, patients as old as 18 are admitted to CHEO.

CTV News Ottawa would like to hear your stories, too. If you have photos of working, staying, or volunteering at CHEO, from its earliest days to today, email ottawaphotos@ctv.ca. We will include as many of your stories as we can on this year's CHEO Telethon, June 8.

With files from CTV News Ottawa's Ted Raymond

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