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The Centre's History
From "Our History of Family Medicine, 1912-1994"
By Michael Regenstreif

The Centre's history dates back more than two decades before the actual Jewish General Hospital opened its doors in 1934, when the original "Herzl Hospital and Dispensary" settled in a small house in the then-Jewish immigrant ghetto located near the centre of the island of Montreal. The Herzl dispensary officially opened its doors on June 2, 1912. It was decided to name the dispensary in honour of Theodor Herzl, the father of modern Zionism. Initially, the Herzl Dispensary provided rudimentary medical care to a community of limited means. Following its genesis in the years leading to the First World War, doctors at the Herzl Dispensary helped to spearhead the establishment of the Jewish General Hospital. The Herzl Dispensary was also instrumental in establishing the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of Montreal, the forerunner of today's Federation CJA, the umbrella organisation of Montreal's Jewish Community. In fact, the Federation's first home was at the Herzl Dispensary.

As the needs of its community changed, the Herzl Dispensary evolved into the "Herzl Health Centre". Later, in further recognition of its community's growing needs, the Herzl Health Centre merged with the, by now well established, Jewish General Hospital's own family practice clinic to create the Herzl Family Practice Centre of the Department of Family Medicine. Meanwhile, following its founding as a community-based hospital, the Jewish General Hospital developed as the focal point for general health care of - but certainly not restricted to - Montreal's Jewish community.

Today's Herzl Family Practice Centre provides a comprehensive range of medical and social services to a clientele that cuts across all socio-economic levels and ethnic groups. In addition, today's facilities are part of the resources of a modern teaching hospital connected to McGill University's Faculty of Medicine and a highly regarded training facility for doctors of family medicine affiliated with McGill's Department of Family Medicine. The permanent staff of family physicians at the HFPC is on the faculty at McGill and is responsible for supervising undergraduate medical students and fully qualified graduate resident physicians over a two-year period. The supervisors are full-time and part-time practising physicians who also are certified by the College of Family Physicians of Canada , from where the Centre proudly receives its full accreditation every 2-5 years.

Filmmaker Ezra Soiferman spends a year at the Goldman Herzl Family Practice Centre, documenting the institution's mosaic of patients, staff and stories throughout its milestone 100th anniversary year, under the guidance of its Director and JGH Chief of Family Medicine, Dr. Michael Malus. The documentary is now available.