85th Anniversary - ArchivesDecember 2019

From the archives: JGH at forefront in treating social diseases

Responding to a marked increase in the incidence of venereal disease in the late 1960s and early ’70s, the JGH launched its Social Diseases Clinic in February 1972, the first full-time facility of its kind in a Montreal hospital.

Offering diagnosis, treatment and follow-up care, the clinic treated 70 new patients in its first four weeks of operation. “It was way beyond our expectations,” said the clinic’s physician in charge, Dr. Joseph Portnoy, who went on to become Director of Professional Services in 1999, and continues to treat patients in 2019.

Under the supervision of Nurse Linda Cohen, the clinic also educated patients in the correct use of contraceptives. When appropriate, it referred them to psychiatric or social services regarding drugs or other problems.

Dr. Portnoy noted that a high rate of patients returned for follow-up care, which he attributed to the clinic’s policy of strict confidentiality. For example, medications were given to patients free of charge (with government support), so that no tell-tale bills would be mailed to patients’ homes, where they might be seen by parents or other family members.


The Jewish General Hospital’s 85th anniversary is an ideal occasion to take a glimpse into the past. By remembering the extraordinary efforts of the hospital’s founders, supporters, staff and volunteers, we honour the enduring legacy of the JGH.

Look for a new scrapbook item every week during 2019 in JGH News.

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