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Women's College Hospital (Toronto, Ont.)
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Women's College Hospital, located in downtown Toronto, was the first hospital in Canada to offer affordable medical care exclusively to women, by women physicians.
Women's College Hospital grew out of the Woman's Medical College. Established in 1883 by Dr. Emily Stowe, Women's Medical College offered medical education to women. In 1894, Woman's Medical College amalgamated with Kingston Women's Medical College and changed its name to the Ontario Medical College for Women. In order for students to gain practical clinical experience, a clinic called the Dispensary was opened on Sackville Street in 1898.
When the University of Toronto began admitting women to its Faculty of Medicine in 1905, the Ontario Medical College for Women closed its doors. However, the Dispensary remained open, offering medical service from women physicians to women who did not otherwise have access to affordable health care. In 1908, the Dispensary moved to the corner of Parliament and Queen and operated as an out-patient clinic.
In 1909, a group of prominent women in Toronto formed the Women's College Hospital Committee. The committee decided that a hospital must be built and they arranged for the amalgamation with the Dispensary. The new hospital opened at 18 Seaton Street in 1911. In 1913, the hospital was officially incorporated and named the Women's College Hospital and Dispensary. The name was changed to Women's College Hospital in 1924.
In 1915, the Women's College Hospital moved to 125 Rusholme Road. The Rusholme hospital had nine wards and a four-room dispensary, and could accommodate twenty-five adult beds and 10 infant cots. In 1935, Women's College Hospital moved again, this time into its current location at 76 Grenville Street.
Women's College Hospital is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto: the hospital was granted status as a university teaching hospital in 1961. Full accreditation as a general hospital was also granted in 1961.
Women's College Hospital is well-known for its numerous "firsts" in the field of women's health. These firsts include the Cancer Detection Clinic, which opened in 1948 – at the time, screening healthy women for cancer was unheard of. In 1963, Women's College Hospital also became the first hospital in Ontario to use mammography to screen for breast cancer. Other firsts include: the first Perinatal Intensive Care Unit in Canada, opened in 1971; the Bay Centre for Birth Control, the first hospital-supported walk-in centre, opened in 1973; the Psoriasis Education and Research Centre, the first centre in Canada to place emphasis on self-care treatment, opened in 1976; the first regional Sexual Assault Care Centre in Ontario, opened in 1984; and the Brief Psychotherapy Centre for Women, the first hospital-based therapy program in Canada, opened in 1987.
In June 1998, Women's College Hospital amalgamated with Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre to form Sunnybrook and Women's College Health Sciences Centre. In 1999, the Women's College Hospital was renamed the Women's College Ambulatory Care Centre through a joint agreement between Women's College and Sunnybrook.
On April 1, 2006, Women's College Hospital and Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre de-amalgamated and began operating independently under the Public Hospitals Act.
In 2010, Women's College Hospital began construction on a new state-of-the-art building. The new building was completed in 2015.
Throughout its history, Women's College Hospital has maintained a focus on women's health-care needs. In 1995, Women's College Hospital was designated as a national historic site by Parks Canada, as a site of national importance in women's history. Today, Women's College Hospital is the first and only independent ambulatory care hospital in Ontario, and the only hospital in Ontario with a primary focus on women's health.
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