Page 256. " Mrs Meagher is in a constant state of shame over the rags they wear and so desperate she goes down to the Dispensary for the public assistance. "

Dispensary and hospital patients were subject to severe rules and expected to show due deference to those in authority.  Patients could be discharged from hospital for a long list of reasons: smoking, drinking, swearing, blasphemy, or disobedience to hospital personnel to name a few.