July 17, 2008

Last Baby, Ever, Has Been Born at Annie Penn


On June 25, Tatiyana Abbott was the last child to be delivered at Annie Penn Hospital's Birthing Center. For the residents of Reidsville, this event ends a continuity of care that dates back to the very day the hospital opened its doors -- ironically on Mother's Day, May 11, 1930 -- the same day Edmund Penn Seay was registered as the first child born there.

A great sense of pride is reflected in that first birth. Not only was his middle name taken from the hospital, but little Edmund was named after Dr. T.W. Edmunds, who became the hospital's first "manager."

Perhaps Annie Penn's greatest moment of maternal pride occurred on May 23, 1946, when Annie Mae Fultz, before the use of fertility drugs, gave birth to identical quadruplets. Due to the extreme rarity of the event, they became poster children for the Pet Milk Co. and went on to grace the cover of Ebony Magazine and to meet President Truman on their fourth birthday in 1950. But national fame aside, that same sense of pride and joy has been experienced by countless Reidsville families in their own private way over the years.

Annie Penn Hospital survived the economic constraints of the Great Depression as well as the extreme shortage of physicians during the war years. It did so by the imaginative and cooperative efforts of many people in the community long before the age of high- priced administrators.

It is ironic, therefore, that Annie Penn's maternity services could not survive the relative plenty of the corporate partnership years with Moses Cone Health .

Many people throughout the community feel angry and betrayed. They should.

The writer lives in Reidsville.

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