New York Dispensary

  • Medicine & Health
  • 1791

New York City clergyman John Rodgers was a classic charitable leader who honed his coalition-building skills as president of the Society for the Relief of Distressed Debtors, vice-chancellor of the University of New York, and founder of the Brick Church and its charity school. He needed all of those skills to open the second hospital in America ministering to the “laborious and industrious poor.”

Philadelphia’s creation of the nation’s first major facility to distribute medical aid to the poor inspired deep interest (and some jealousy) in New York City. Squabbles among doctors, donors, and others, however, delayed action to replicate Philly’s success. The New York Daily Advertiser ran several articles explaining the workings of the Philadelphia hospital. This persuaded citizens to offer financial contributions, and a cooperative plan finally emerged. The New York Dispensary quite consciously copied Philadelphia’s pathbreaking institution—and ultimately had great success in improving the standard of medical care throughout New York.