The Wellesley Institute: Looking Back, Moving Forward
The Wellesley Institute’s move to its new home comes at a momentous time in the organization’s history: the one hundredth anniversary of the opening of the Wellesley Hospital.
The Wellesley Institute is part of the legacy of the Wellesley Central Hospital, which finally closed in 1998 following a hard-fought community battle for its survival. Following the closure, a number of former hospital Board members and community activists, determined to safeguard the legacy of the hospital, worked to bring that legacy to life. The Wellesley Institute strives to advance urban health to carry forward the work of Wellesley Central through research, policy, and community mobilization.
The Wellesley Hospital was founded in 1911 by Dr. Herbert Bruce, a Toronto physician. The hospital began as a non-profit hospital serving both Toronto’s wealthy and its poor. In the days before Medicare, Dr. Bruce believed that no one should be turned away for lack of funds. He also began the Wellesley Hospital’s long tradition of excellent patient care and support for controversial social measures, like housing for the poor.
In 1996 The Wellesley Hospital merged with Toronto’s Central Hospital, which was itself noted for providing culturally sensitive service to immigrant communities, and the Wellesley Central Hospital was born. In 1997 Women’s College Hospital also became a part of Wellesley Central.
Over the years the Wellesley Central Hospital (in its various incarnations) became known for its teaching expertise, research and treatment of HIV/AIDS, and commitment to providing members of the city’s queer, immigrant, poor and homeless communities with excellent, sensitive care.
As we look back over the past one hundred years, we recognize and celebrate the hard work of our forebears: the staff and patients of all incarnations of the Wellesley Hospital, the communities who embraced it and fought for its survival, and the people who worked to carry on its legacy of community commitment and dedication to promoting the health of Torontonians, including its most marginalized residents. As one of its final acts, the Wellesley Central Hospital produced a video celebrating the history of the hospital and its important role in the community.