Community hospital Tufts Medical Center is celebrating its 225th anniversary this year. Founded in 1796, Tufts has been a cornerstone of public healthcare for local, lower income families since its conception. In a time before what we know as “organized medicine”, during which healthcare was only readily available to wealthier families through private doctors, Tufts, still known as the Boston Dispensary at the time, was formed to make healthcare more accessible by providing medicine and supplies to doctors making housecalls. The Dispensary was the first healthcare establishment founded in Boston, and the third overall in the United States.
The model from which the Boston Dispensary, named for the pharmacy on what is now Washington Street, was that of the London Dispensary, which was opened in London, England, April of 1698. Not yet a hospital, the Boston Dispensary was a supplier of medicine and medical supplies that was funded entirely by donors, one of which being the famed Paul Revere of the Revolutionary War. Revere, along with other wealthier Bostonians, would contribute money toward a voucher system that would provide free supplies to doctors. The voucher system remained in effect until the 1850s, with each being worth one year of free