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The history of the Grace Maternity Hospital begins with the purchase of an old school in the South End of Halifax by the Salvation Army. It was opened as a haven for unmarried pregnant women. Physicians donated their time and it was known as a reputable home for maternity care. In the early days, Dr. P.A. MacDonald was the medical superintendent of the home.
In 1918, the Halifax Medical Association proposed a need for a modern maternity and obstetrical teaching hospital and suggested the Salvation Army build and manage it. The Grace Maternity Hospital opened its doors on April 29, 1922 with Dr. P.A. Macdonald as Chief of Staff.
The Grace has always been considered a pioneer in maternity care. In 1928, while Dr. H.B. Atlee was Chief of Staff, he implemented the practice of early rising which encouraged women to leave their bed a day after giving birth, a practice unheard of until that time. It was the first hospital in North America to adopt this concept.
In 1967, the Grace implemented a program to encourage parents to help in the special care unit, enabling them to hold and touch their babies. In 1971, it was the first hospital in Canada to allow fathers to take part in pre-natal courses and delivery. Further, fathers were allowed into the operating room during C-sections in 1980. While these are common practices today, the Grace has a tradition of using innovative techniques.
Although major renovations were undertaken in 1956 and 1967, the hospital was in desperate need of a new facility in the mid-1980s. In 1992, the new building was opened. Although the Salvation Army gave most of its assets from the old Grace to the new I.W.K. Complex in 1997, the partnership between the two continues. The Salvation Army has a membership on the board and provides pastoral services.
The new hospital was christened the Izaak Walton Killam-Grace Health Centre for Children, Woman and Families, or the IWK-Grace for short. The amalgamation between the two hospitals linked the administrative and operational services.
In affiliation with the Grace, Dalhousie University trains its healthcare students at the hospital. Healthcare disciplines include the Faculty of Medicine, the Faculty of Dentistry, and the Faculty of Health Professions.
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