Public Health

McMaster ruffles some feathers with child ward renaming

By Adrian Duyzer
Published December 03, 2008

An article in the Globe and Mail, Health care in a bucket with fries, came to the attention of a RTH reader recently, who sent it along for us to check out (thanks, by the way!)

The article is about the recent renaming of a ward in McMaster's Children's Hospital to The Colonel Sanders Inpatient Unit, because of a $1-million donation to the hospital from the Colonel Harland Sanders Charitable Organization (Picard says the ward's nickname is now the chicken wing).

Picard isn't happy about the renaming:

Childhood obesity is a serious, pressing health problem, so what message are we sending by renaming part of a pediatric hospital after a fast-food icon?

Worse yet, among those treated in The Colonel Harland Sanders Inpatient Unit are children with eating disorders. The irony is palpable, and the resigned acceptance tragic.


The broader question that needs to be asked is: When and why did it become acceptable for public institutions to prostitute themselves in this manner?

The obvious response to Picard is that KFC's money is just as good as anyone else's money, and that the health care system badly needs whatever money it can get. As "doug M" from Calgary wrote in comments to the article, "either it's OK to accept private sector money, or it is not".

On the face of it, that seems like a convincing argument. Harland David "Colonel" Sanders led an interesting life, eventually settling in Mississauga when he was about 75 years old. He established two organizations, the Colonel Harland Sanders Trust and Colonel Harland Sanders Charitable Organization, that contribute to many good causes (including other health care facilities in Canada).

From that perspective - the legacy of a man who may have loved this country - what's wrong with accepting the money and putting up a plaque in gratitude?

Picard counters this argument forcefully, pointing out that it would be no less generous to give the money without the branding, but far more honourable.

"When you cut through the rhetoric," he writes, "these naming opportunities, these associations with children's hospitals, are done for a single reason: to make fast food more palatable and bolster the bottom line of these corporations."

What do you think? Is this shamelessly inappropriate advertising, or a generous contribution to society worthy of being recognized the way McMaster has done so?

Adrian Duyzer is an entrepreneur, business owner, and Associate Editor of Raise the Hammer. He lives in downtown Hamilton with his family. On Twitter: adriandz


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By Grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted December 04, 2008 at 00:11:38

I wonder if KFC is not part of the problem itself when it pays low wages, no benefits, to its workers who may have children , who then have to go to the foodbanks where most of the food is high in sugar and starch, food, that fills the belly but has no nutritional value.

But then what can we really expect for those who are the elite, who do not walk in shoes of those that struggle.

Maybe the answer is to starting knocking down the wages and benefits of the so called "medical" geniuses, who fail to actually speak out against the very system that puts people into dire straits.

We did not hear much outcry from the medical communty when the provincial government slashed services that were paid by OHIP, for those that struggle who now cannot afford such medical tests and so on. We do not hear the outcry from the medical people on the issues of poverty and the lack of fresh fruit and vegetables that people cannot afford to buy.

To be honest many of those the bureaucrats and ceo types within the medical community need to live on the streets or be homeless for a year or so, so then they really get the picture of their evil greed and decadent lives.

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By UrbanRenaissance (registered) | Posted December 04, 2008 at 07:54:47

Why don't they just drop the "Colonel" and call it the "Harland Sanders Inpatient Unit"? That way, it still gets named after him, the hospital still gets its sorely needed money and it limits (at least to children) the association between the hospital and KFC. Unfortunately since our elected politicians seem more interested in bickering with each other than solving real problems, donations from private companies are needed to pick up the slack. As long as these donations aren't acting like bribes I really see no problem with it.

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By Rusty (registered) - website | Posted December 04, 2008 at 10:54:10

The 'chicken wing'? Come on, the name change is worth it just for the humour...!

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By greasy fingers (anonymous) | Posted December 05, 2008 at 16:33:26

Not to disparage anything that's been said above, but I would like to point out that back in the late 60s and the 70s when fast food chains really took off, the issue was how to feed a rapidly expanding, increasingly urban population affordably. MacDonald's earliest pitch was that they would give you a burger, fries, a drink and change, for a dollar.

That's not Colonel Sanders, of course, but then neither is KFC, any more.

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By (anonymous) | Posted October 24, 2009 at 13:54:53

i am very interested in your comments and wonder if you saw an article in western canada, i think, alberta, in fact, but now cannot find it. it was an article of a name change of a hospital and how public outcry made the name change void. would you be able to fund suc an article? i am quite anxious to get a copy to help with an issue here in hamilton

please help me

mari-anne saunders

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