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A Pillar in the Durham Community

African American surgeon black and white photo

The Lincoln Community Health Center has served the Durham community as a preventive and primary healthcare facility since September 1971. The health center was founded by former Forest resident Dr. Charles DeWitt Watts, the first African-American board certified surgeon in North Carolina and a leader in healthcare access.

In 1976, when Durham’s Lincoln Hospital closed, Dr. Watts recognized that the patients he treated would still need a facility for their primary healthcare needs. The Lincoln Community Health Center emerged from Dr. Watts’ and others’ desire to treat a low income, underserved population in the community where they lived and worked.

Today, Dr. Watts’ legacy continues to live on, not only in the thriving health center, but also in the medical community at large. As a pillar in his community, Dr. Watts cleared the way for other African-American doctors in the area and advocated for certification for African-American medical students.

Dr. Watts opened his own private practice in general surgery in Durham in 1950. During a time when African-Americans had limited access to medical services, he clearly understood the obstacles young African-American doctors would face.

As a community, The Forest was excited to tour the Lincoln Community Health Center in March and learn more about the incredible work this facility is doing in Durham. Additionally, we enjoyed reminiscing about Dr. Watts and the timeless contributions he made, spanning healthcare, civil rights, and beyond.

Header image: Courtesy of BCBSNC.
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