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Doing Good

Doing Good: The Life of Toronto's General Hospital

J.T.H. Connor
Copyright Date: 2000
Pages: 398
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  • Book Info
    Doing Good
    Book Description:

    Broad in scope and meticulously executed,Doing Goodbrings vividly to life the day-to-day routines, the behind-the-scenes intrigue, and the people and politics of a great urban hospital.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-2109-1
    Subjects: History, Health Sciences

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Figures and Tables
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. ix-2)
  5. Introduction: A Social and Political Barometer
    (pp. 3-12)

    The Toronto General Hospital stands amid the bastions of power in one of the largest cities in North America. A stone’s throw away lies Bay Street, Canada’s equivalent to Wall Street and the hub of economic power in the country. Just north sits Queen’s Park, site of Ontario’s parliament buildings and provincial political power. The University of Toronto, the largest seat of higher learning in the country, hugs adjacent streets where banners proclaim ‘Great Minds for a Great Future’ – for in the world of academe, knowledge is power. Three architectural generations of buildings face the Toronto General, all headquarters at...

  6. Part One:: Providing for the Sick Poor, 1797–1856

    • 1 A Hospital for Muddy York – Eventually, 1797–1840
      (pp. 15-43)

      In December 1797 Lieutenant-Governor John Graves Simcoe, then still in the original colonial capital of Niagara, received word that land had been reserved for a hospital in Upper Canada’s new capital on the north shore of Lake Ontario. A letter sent by Peter Russell, senior colonial bureaucrat, did far more than this: it laid out a definite plan for the entire settlement at York. Russell’s vision called for erection of public buildings – namely, a hospital, a church, a school, a courthouse, and a jail. Within two weeks, Russell informed the executive council of Upper Canada that it was ‘absolutely requisite...

    • 2 Medical Politics, Political Doctors, and a Beleaguered Hospital, 1841–1856
      (pp. 44-78)

      Lying vacant for its first five years, housing the legislature for the next five, the York hospital building from 1819 to 1829 had embodied only the concept of a hospital. Colonial inertia and bureaucratic appropriation had conspired to keep the hospital from becoming a reality. Once it did open to patients in 1829 – only after confronting the government occupants – events of the 1830s could easily have ruined it. While the fledgling hospital had managed to care for thousands of the sick poor and to become a focus for medical training, crises of epidemic disease and social protest had embroiled it...

  7. Part Two: A Public Charity, 1856–1903

    • 3 New Quarters, New Status, 1856–1875
      (pp. 81-119)

      In the mid-1850s, while political, social, and economic changes shook the united Province of Canada, the Toronto General Hospital too was being transformed. As if to put behind it its ownannus horribilis,the hospital in 1856 moved into a new home in eastern Toronto, by the Don River, where it could implement the new rules and regulations that its trustees had prepared in 1855. The same year it received a sizeable grant from the government and, reflecting its new status, submitted its first formal report to the legislative assembly. The next two decades were to prove very challenging for...

    • Illustrations
      (pp. None)
    • 4 A Model Hospital, 1875–1903
      (pp. 120-162)

      ‘The spirit ofunrestwas never more apparent on the surface of human society than at the present time,’ declared theCanadian Journal of Medical Sciencein 1876. ‘There is scarcely an institution ... which is not being disturbed by an agitation for reform or change.’¹ True for North America, this observation captured the essence of life in Ontario and at the Toronto General Hospital. The Liberal governments of Oliver Mowat (premier 1872–96) – called by one historian an ‘instrument’ of ‘middle-class business and professional elements’ – tackled the concerns of an increasingly urban society. From the 1870s until 1905, Liberal...

  8. Part Three:: A Major Academic Hospital, 1904–2000

    • 5 Millionaires, University Doctors, and Their Hospital, 1904–1930
      (pp. 165-213)

      Early in the new century, an editorial in theCanada Lanceton ‘Hospitals and City Life’ captured just how important hospitals had become to Canadian society. Appealing to the ‘imagination of all classes,’ it suggested, hospitals were centres of education for medicine, nursing, and the public. Through their ‘union of science, art, business skill, and charity,’ they had evolved into ‘great industries conducted for the purpose of making people well, prolonging life, and relieving suffering.’¹ Inspector of Hospitals and Public Charities Dr R.W. Bruce Smith had shared this idea with listeners at the inaugural meeting of the Canadian Hospital Association...

    • 6 An Evolving Urban Complex, 1930–2000
      (pp. 214-254)

      Between the ‘dirty thirties’ and the postmodern 1990s, the Toronto General Hospital became a middle-class institution where treatment was free for all. Along with other public hospitals, it developed dependence on insurance plans and government funding to finance its operations. Yet it found its constant source of income countered by spiralling costs in medical technology, on which doctors relied more and more. As early as 1932, theCanada Lancet and Practitionerdiscussed the ‘mechanistic trend’ in medicine, with its ‘“chain-store” method of treatment.’ Cautioning that this tendency should not displace the ‘personal touch’ of the family physician, the editorial suggested...

    • Illustrations
      (pp. None)
  9. Conclusion: Holding It Together
    (pp. 255-270)

    Lewis Thomas, the informed and witty commentator on biomedical life, wrote that hospitals function through the ‘constant interplay’ of powerful and opposing forces, often leaving the patient astonished that the ‘whole institution doesn’t fly to pieces.’¹ One of a small number of organizations to have historically functioned every hour of the day, every day of the week, it is expected to operate efficiently, even though it has little control over revenue or demands placed on its unique services. We expect it to have the latest in high-technology equipment while displaying a high level of personal contact and consideration for those...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 271-328)
  11. Illustration Credits
    (pp. 329-330)
  12. Index
    (pp. 331-342)