Healthcare Equality - Lincoln Hospital

525 East Proctor Street now 1301 Fayetteville Street

Lincoln was the only hospital within a 25-mile radius of Durham to treat African Americans until the early 1960s when Watts Hospital integrated its wards.  Blacks often turned to midwifes and home remedies for their healthcare. Dr. Stanford Warren, John Merrick, and Dr. Aaron Moore (Durham’s first black physician) founded Lincoln hospital in 1901 through a generous support from Mr. Washington Duke, a well-known business man and philanthropist in Durham.

The lack of access to healthcare was a key strategy of Jim Crow segregation. Lincoln hospital actively provided health services to these people who did not have access to medical care. Lincoln’s efforts helped decrease the high mortality rate in Durham’s black community.  Blacks who were in good health were able to prosper and advocate for themselves. The hospital served all people including poor whites and provided jobs, training, and schooling for blacks.

The activist founders, physicians, nurses, and staff members at Lincoln were willing to serve everyone regardless of their ability to pay. Lincoln hospital could only rely upon 30% of annual income from patients. The remaining support came from endowments, the city and county of Durham, and other outside donations. Much of this money went to the treatment of non-paying patients and gave them the access to high-quality healthcare.

Prevention practices were also a primary focus at Lincoln. Health educators, nurses, and physicians conducted workshops for patients and community members by working with churches, clubs, schools, and other groups. Lincoln held weekly clinics to teach pre-natal and post-natal care to mothers who were too poor to have personal physicians. These clinics empowered mothers to make better choices regarding the birth and care of their children.   

Lincoln Hospital’s commitment to work across racial lines aided the expansion of facilities and services. With the addition of qualified white medical professionals on staff, more patients could be treated. This collaboration of expertise and skill allowed the hospital to provide a safety net for those who were unable to access and afford healthcare by educating, serving, and being inclusive.

Lincoln continues to serve the community as Lincoln Community Health