‘Katie B’ reunion highlights Class of 1967

‘Katie B’ reunion highlights Class of 1967
August 10
11:59 2017

By Jacqueline Howell

Special to The Chronicle

The atmosphere was one of love, excitement and jubilation as almost 90 supporters celebrated the 32nd annual reunion of the Kate Bitting Reynolds Memorial Hospital family.  The event was held at the Hawthorne Inn and Conference Center, July 21-23.

The excitement of those in attendance reflected the love and respect they have for “Katie B” and the positive impact it had on their lives. One of the oldest attendees was Mrs. Doris Dunston Simms, a 1942 graduate of the Kate Bitting Reynolds Memorial Hospital School of Nursing. 

The 130-bed Kate Bitting Reynolds Memorial Hospital and 44 bed School of Nursing were opened Aug. 10, 1938 in the heart of the “black community” in East Winston-Salem. The hospital was named for Mrs. Kate Bitting Reynolds, wife of Mr. William N. Reynolds of Winston-Salem.  Mr. and Mrs. Reynolds donated $200,000 to build the hospital complex to provide for the health care needs of the black community. 

The Duke Foundation donated $125,000, and the city of Winston-Salem donated the land.  In 1941, a 90-bed addition was funded by W.N. Reynolds, making it the third largest hospital for African-Americans in the United States. 

The new hospital quickly became affectionately known as “Katie B.” Because of the lack of sufficient funding, the establishment of Medicare, and the “right” of patients to be treated and black physicians to practice in formerly segregated “white” hospitals, as well as other political considerations, the hospital and Schools of Nursing and X-Ray Technology were closed in 1972. 

Former hospital employees, friends, and graduates of the KBR Schools of Nursing and X-Ray Technology from across the country, gathered to reconnect and share fond memories of “Katie B”. The Nursing Class of 1967 was especially excited as members celebrated their 50th anniversary.  The keynote speaker, Barbara Poindexter Robinson, RN, was a member of this class.

The longtime nursing supervisor, who has retired, currently resides in Temple Hills, Maryland. She has worked mostly in obstetrics and gynecology.

Robinson began her speech by describing the characteristics of different breeds of dogs.  The behavioral traits of the various breeds were described in terms that could easily be compared with certain types of human behaviors.   As she compared and contrasted the various types of behaviors, Robinson began to outline the behavioral traits and accomplishments of her classmates who used the excellent training they received at “Katie B” as a springboard in their pursuit of excellence.

The crowd listened intently and with tremendous pride as she described the personal and professional accomplishments of each of her former classmates … a tribute to the role the school and “Katie B” hospital employees played in nurturing and training them.

Members of the Reunion Planning Committee – Jacqueline Howell, Beverly Watson, Gloria Millner, Josephine Hall, Vernie Anderson and George Cunningham – consider it a true “labor of love” to prepare for the annual celebration.  They are already eagerly anticipating next year’s reunion.  The goal is to see increased participation, especially from the Winston-Salem community.

Jacqueline Howell, RN, BSN, MPH, is the chairperson of the Kate Bitting Reynolds Memorial Hospital reunion.

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