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The East Side Story

The East Side Story
November 09
04:00 2017

Busta’s Person of the Week

By Busta Brown

“Back in the 1800s, after slavery, there was no health care for African-Americans. As more job more opportunity came about in Winston, more African-Americans moved here, and so there was a need for health care. There was no health care, so people were using the old home remedies to treat each other.”

Dr. Peggy Valentine, dean of Health Sciences at Winston-Salem State University, is about to give us a serious history lesson on one of the most important moments in the Twin City. She’s going to share with us how health care came about in East Winston. It’s a phenomenal story, so hang on for the ride.

Dr. Valentine continued to take me on a history ride that I shared with my children immediately after leaving her office. “There were no black physicians, no black nurses, until Winston-Salem State was formed in 1892. So Simon Green Atkins, our first president, had the vision, not only to make this a great community for African-Americans, but to also provide health care.”

She paused for a second, smiled at me, and softly said, “Did you know on this campus, that the first hospital in Winston-Salem was born?”

That was the first time I’ve learned this history about Winston-Salem, and it blew me away. I got so excited, I began chanting, “Chew tobacco, chew tobacco, chew tobacco spit, if you ain’t a Ram, then you ain’t …” Of course I didn’t say the last word of the chant, but I did get a laugh and a big smile from this extremely intelligent and dignified dean of Health Sciences. That was fun.

After we had a little fun, she continued, “The hospital was called Slater, and it lasted for 10 years. It was wonderful because there were people of color who cared about health care and wanted to make a difference to keep them healthy so that they could have a better quality of life.”

She told me that RJ Reynolds deeded the land to the University, but Slater Hospital fell on some tough times financially. Winston-Salem State had several fundraisers to keep the hospital going. One of their most successful was when Booker T. Washington was invited to speak. Between 1890 and 1915, Washington was the dominant leader in the African-American community. The University raised $1,000, and it kept the hospital going, but money ran low again, so they had to close after 10 years. 

One day as Dr. Valentine looked through the University’s archives, she was inspired to keep the legacy alive, with honoring  the African-Americans who brought health care to East Winston. On Nov. 17 at WSSU’s Anderson Conference Center at 5 to 8 p.m., Winston-Salem State will honor the “Healthcare Legends of East Winston.”  These are individuals who have made a profoundly positive impact on the health and wellness of the residents of East Winston.  RSVP to 336-750-2570. To learn more, check out my interview with Dr. Peggy Valentine on our YouTube.com channel @ Winstonsalem Chronicle.

Dean Valentine is the dean and professor of the School of Health Sciences with oversight responsibility of educational programs in Clinical Laboratory Science, Exercise Physiology, Health Care Management, Nursing, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Counseling. She has administrative responsibility for the Rams Know H.O.W. mobile clinic.

Her clinical experiences include registered nurse and physician assistant. She received the Doctor of Education degree from Virginia Tech, the Master of Arts and the Bachelor of Science degrees from Howard University. She is listed in Who’s Who of American Women and was honored as Educator of the Year by the American Academy of Physician Assistants. She was elected Fellow in the Association of Schools of Allied Health Professions, and the Howard University Senate honored her for outstanding contributions to the African Diaspora. Dr. Valentine has conducted research on homeless and minority issues. She has published in refereed journals, textbooks and manuals. She is the founding editor-in-chief for the Journal of Best Practices in Health Professions Diversity. She serves on the board of trustees for Novant Health and is secretary/treasurer.

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