Grade Twelve: Changes in Health Care

Pre-Visit Activity: Glossary of Terms

Hillary House: Specifically called the Hillary House National Historic Site and Koffler Museum of Medicine, this is a house located at 15372 Yonge St. in Aurora, ON, which has now been turned into a museum run by the Aurora Historical Society. It was once referred to as “The Manor” and was originally built for Dr. Walter Geike and his family. This was a special house because it was used both as a home and as a doctor’s office by four different doctors – Dr. Geike, Dr. Frederick Strange, Dr. Robert William Hillary and Dr. Robert Michael Hillary. It is set up to look how it did when the Hillary family lived here (from 1876 onwards), but also has other exhibits throughout the year in exhibit rooms.

Artifacts: Objects and items that have been made by people.

Primary Source: An object or document that is original to the time period being studied. For example, a book from 1890 is a primary source for the time period. [Note: If a page is photocopied from this text, the written words are still considered a primary source as they were written at that time period.]

Secondary Source: An object or document that is not original to the time period being study. These types of sources provide an account, commentary or perspective from outside the original period of study. The person who created the secondary source does not usually have first-hand experience with the situation or time period.

Hypotheses: Often used in Science, but also applicable to the study of History: a proposed explanation or guess that you can make, but have yet to prove. It is something that is usually put forward in order to promote further research, discussion and study to find evidence to support it.

Archives: A place where objects and documents of historical significance are stored to keep them safe and preserved. There are various types of archives, such as academic (i.e. at colleges, universities), government (i.e. town/city, province, country) and business (i.e. companies have their own archival documents stored in their own archives).

Medicare: The name often given to Canada’s national health insurance program that allows for Canadians to have coverage for medical necessities, such as visits to the doctor and hospital care. It was put into practice in the 1966 Medical Care Act.

Hospital Insurance and Diagnostic Services Act: An act put forward in Canada in 1957 that many see as the first step toward a national health care plan and Canada’s current health care system. It was initially implemented in 1958 in five provinces and by 1961, included all 10 provinces. The act covered one-half of costs for certain hospital and diagnostic services.

Medical Care Act: The act passed by the federal government in 1966 that gave coverage for medical services provided by doctors outside of hospitals (i.e. in the doctor’s office). Within six years of this act, all provinces and territories had universal physician services insurance plans in place.

Tourniquet: A medical device used to stop a traumatic amount of blood flow from a vein or artery. This is accomplished by compressing the wound with a cord or bandage. They were often used by medical practitioners in the military.

Apothecary: An early name for a health care practitioner who did the work of a modern pharmacist. Apothecaries mixed medicines, formulated them and provided them to doctors, surgeons and health care practitioners when needed. Some doctors in the nineteenth-century were trained with these skills, so they could dispense medications to their patients.

Sphygmomanometer: Also known as a Blood Pressure Meter or Gauge. This is a medical instrument used to measure an individual’s blood pressure. Manual versions require a doctor to use their stethoscope to listen for blood flow after pressure has been placed on the arm; modern electronic versions are able to digitally present this on a screen for doctors to read instead.

Activities Overview

Activity #1: Health Care – Then and Now
Working in small groups, students brainstorm some of the ways that they think health care practices, equipment and policies have changed over time in Ontario. With only their prior knowledge and by making educated guesses, students work together to determine some of the possible changes from 1893 up until 2013. Each group will share some of their ideas and then along with the assistance of the AHS educator, they will discuss which of these changes have indeed occurred, how they have occurred and, even more importantly, why they have.

Activity #2: Studying Medical Equipment and Artifacts
Students get the opportunity to study medical artifacts from the late-nineteenth century. With proper instruction on handling and care from the AHS educator, students will each be given the chance to handle and look at an artifact in order to study it for clues. In small groups, students will discover the purpose and function of their given object and try to determine if there is a comparable tool used in health care practices today. This activity is both an opportunity for students to view the technological changes that have occurred over the last one hundred to one hundred and fifty years in Ontario health care and to hone their skills at working with primary sources.

Activity #3: Future of Medical Equipment
After having the opportunity to hear about their classmates’ guesses on each object in the previous activity, students will learn from the AHS educator about the true purpose and function of the tools. They will then be challenged to think one hundred years ahead to what a comparable tool would be like in the year 2113. Each student will choose one of the artifacts that most interested them from the collection brought in by the AHS educator, and do a short write-up on what they hypothesize as the future for this object in the area of health care. Teachers can expand this activity into a research assignment during in-class time – see Suggested Post Visit Activities.

Suggested Post Visit Activities

(1) Take a class trip over to Hillary House National Historic Site at 15372 Yonge Street (If you have not already) to see an authentic location where a late nineteenth-century doctor would have practiced medicine. In particular, visit the Consulting Room, where Drs. Geike, Strange and the Hillarys would have met with patients and even performed surgeries. See artifacts like amputation kits and tonsillectomy kits to make further comparisons between modern and past medical technologies and equipment. Also, visit the Dispensary, where doctors would have stored and mixed medicines for patients. The Hillary House Dispensary contains many original bottles and medications from a nineteenth-century Aurora-area pharmacy, as well as the tools used to create various pills and medications.

(2) Until December 2013, also view the Medical Exhibit on display at Hillary House NHS, which contains further artifacts and objects showing the progression of medical practices and instruments since the late nineteenth-century. Get a closer look at objects that could not be brought into the school, such as scalpels, saws and other surgical implements, while learning more about health care policy and procedure changes in Ontario.

(3) Encourage students to continue working with primary sources by visiting their local libraries and archives. Have them use these sources the research more about the artifacts they saw during the program and/or on the advancements in Canada’s health care policy. Also encourage them to visit larger archives, such as the City of Toronto Archives and Archives Ontario (on the York University campus) for primary sources and information about the impact and opinions on individuals across the country.

(4) With the current debate for health care initiatives and programs in the United States (“Obamacare”) do a compare and contrast, where possible, with views of Canadians at the time of health care changes between the post-war period up until the Medical Care Act was implemented in 1966 using these and secondary sources.

(5) Expand on Activity #3: Future of Medical Equipment by turning it into a research assignment or project. Have the student’s use their short write-ups from the program as their rough draft and challenge them do research on their chosen artifact using secondary sources. Students can give a preliminary evaluation of how the object or tool has changed over the last one hundred years or so, then provide a rationalization based on their research for suggestions of improvement and changes they see coming for the tool in the future.

To see how this program connects to the current Ontario curriculum click here.