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The Halifax Visiting Dispensary (HVD) was established in 1856 in response to the need for free and subsidized medical services for low-income individuals and families. Regarded as a "red feather" agency—a privately sponsored charitable organization—it was financed by private donations, endowment funds, Halifax and Dartmouth city grants, and the community chest. The dispensary operated out of a clinic on Brunswick Street, with the city morgue situated in the building's basement, and provided specialized services for the treatment of women and children, as well as daily medical and surgical clinics and weekly dental, eye, ear, nose and throat clinics. The dispensary also provided medical services and drugs for diseases such as diabetes, arthritis, scarlet fever, typhoid fever, diphtheria, small pox and consumption. A rotating staff of physicians offered home visits.
In 1924 the dispensary moved into the newly built Dalhousie University Public Health Clinic, which took over the medical and surgical work, while the dispensary continued to distribute prescriptions and surgical supplies. The dispensary remained a separate organization, with its own board of directors and a staff of two—a registered druggist and a certified clerk. Visiting physicians were reimbursed for their work through the dispensary's funds.
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Fonds is arranged into six series:
Annual Reports; Administrative records; Financial records; Correspondence; Patient information; and Publicity.
Records are arranged chronologically within series where possible, unless otherwise noted.
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All other materials are open for research.