Where It All Began
In the 1930’s, African American doctors working from house-hospitals in Forsyth County brought attention to the need for a proper facility to bring high quality health care to the African-American Community. Kate Bitting Reynolds, whose family’s business had depended so heavily on African American workers to achieve their goals, became one of the major donors for the hospital.
The hospital opened its doors in 1938 with 60 beds for patients. After expansions of an additional 90 beds in 1941, Kate Bitting Reynolds Memorial Hospital, affectionately named “Katie B.”, became the third largest medical facility for African Americans in the US. Not only the largest, Katie B also received recognition for the quality of care and, particularly important to our project, the education of medical professionals.
Remembering their time at “Katie B,” students and faculty alike recall the hard work, commitment to excellence, and sisterhood that marked the experience. Time at Katie B left a powerful impression, it seems, on all who attended, as demonstrated by the fact that people return even now, nearly fifty years after the hospital closed, for annual reunions of those who taught, studied, and worked at the hospital.
Before construction of the “Katie B,” African-American patients were housed and treated in the north wing of City Memorial Hospital, which was created in 1913 after Winston and Salem merged. Though this was the only large scale medical facility for African-American patients at the time, the wing held only 60 beds. In addition to having such limited access to treatment, no African-American patients were allowed to be treated by African-American physicians. In fact, African-American physicians were prohibited from treating patients in City Memorial Hospital altogether.
The Duke Endowment Fund and William Neal Reynolds, donated money to begin construction of the hospital…. Instructions were given to the City to “…use these funds for no other purpose than the erection and equipment of a hospital for colored people in Winston Salem.”
Credit: City of Winston-Salem