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Evolution of hospital care in Winston-Salem

The city’s history of treating the public in hospitals stretches back more than a century. Learn how facilities that are still treating patients today were established.


Twin City Hospital eventually turned into Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center.

On left: Photo via Digital Forsyth, on right: David Bjorgen via Novant Health

Table of Contents

Thousands of medical students, physicians, and patients call Winston-Salem home. But how did medicine help put our city on the map? Let’s take a look at its history of public health care:

Early hospitals

Twin City Hospital opened in 1887, 26 years before Winston and Salem merged. A group of volunteers raised money to open a 10-bed facility to treat the public. It closed three years later because of lack of funding.

In 1895, the Ladies Twin-City Hospital Association again raised funds for a second Twin City Hospital. The facility initially only cared for white patients. RJ Reynolds and founder of Winston-Salem State University, Simon G. Atkins, were instrumental in raising funds for a facility to care for Black patients. The Slater Hospital opened in 1902 and was in operation until 1912.


Old Main, the original Baptist Hospital building, was demolished in 1978 — today’s campus spans 290 acres.

On left: photo courtesy of Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Coy C. Carpenter Library, on right: photo courtesy of Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist.

Establishing modern medicine

Twin City Hospital closed in 1914. White and Black patients were transferred to the new City Memorial Hospital. It remained open until 1964 when its successor, Forsyth Memorial Hospital — now known as Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center — opened on Silas Creek Parkway.

In 1923, the Baptist State Convention of NC opened North Carolina Baptist Hospital in the Ardmore neighborhood. What is now known as Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist celebrated 100 years of care in May. It is the largest employer in Forsyth County.

The Kate Bitting Reynolds Memorial Hospital opened in 1938. It was Winston-Salem’s first publicly-operated facility exclusively for Black patients. The facility was replaced by Reynolds Memorial Hospital in 1970 and was demolished in 1973. The hospital became Reynolds Health Center, and served patients of all races through the 1990s. Eventually, it stopped serving patients when the Downtown Health Plaza opened, and is now the Forsyth County Department of Social Services.