NCMS Member Produces Documentary on

Trailblazers at St. Agnes Hospital


“Today’s doctors of color stand on the shoulders of giants like Bishop Henry Beard Delany, who saved one of the largest hospitals for Blacks on the East Coast in the early 1900s, Dr. Paul McGill, the first Black orthodontist in Charlotte, Dr. Kenneth Chambers, one of the first board-certified Obstetrician-Gynecologists in Charlotte, and Dr. Brenda Armstrong who is one of the first black students at Duke Medical School.”              —  Dr. Cheryl Walker-McGill.


These remarkable narratives, along with many others, come to life in “Someone Else’s Shoes,” a documentary crafted by Cheryl Walker-McGill, MD, a member of the North Carolina Medical Society. The documentary premiered on Friday, September 23, at the Seby B. Jones Auditorium at St. Augustine’s University. It sheds light on the enduring legacy of St. Agnes Hospital and the trailblazing African Americans who tirelessly worked to enhance healthcare accessibility in North Carolina.

The film delves into the founding of St. Agnes Hospital in Raleigh in 1896, marking one of the state’s pioneering Black-owned and operated hospitals. In just a single generation following the emancipation of people from slavery on local plantations, this hospital emerged as the gold standard for medical care accessible to African Americans across the region spanning from Washington D.C. to Atlanta, Georgia. The chapter of St. Agnes Hospital came to a close in 1961 with the inauguration of Wake Memorial Hospital, now known as Wake Med.

Subsequent to the film premiere, Chip Baggett, CEO of the North Carolina Medical Society, participated in a panel discussion concerning the ongoing struggle for equitable healthcare access. He emphasized the historical significance of these discussions, drawing parallels between St. Agnes Hospital’s transformative role in the 19th and 20th centuries and its potential to once again serve as a cornerstone for meeting the healthcare needs of the community and nurturing the next generation of healthcare professionals in the 21st century.  “Tonight is very special to me,” Baggett said, “it is an honor to bring together the past and the future to build a stronger North Carolina.”

Other panelists included Linda Dallas, a professor at St. Augustine University; Dr. Brian Shackleford, President of the Old North State Medical Society; and Scot McCray, CEO of Advance Community Health Center. The discussion encompassed topics such as workforce-related challenges, the pursuit of equity objectives outlined in Health North Carolina 2030, and the paramount importance of preserving the legacy of St. Agnes Hospital and its visionary founders.

The premiere event generated significant enthusiasm for the future prospects of the St. Agnes Hospital site. Grants earmarked for a feasibility study have already bolstered initiatives aimed at preserving the site and constructing a health education facility at St. Augustine’s University focused on addressing social drivers of health as well as health equity.  The NCMS looks forward to continuing to partner with St. Augustine’s University in this endeavor.  


NCMS CEO Chip Baggett interviewed by WAUG reporter
NCMS President Dr. Arthur Apolinario with Dr. Cheryl Walker-McGill
NCMS Board Member, Dr. Karen Smith with Apolinario
“Someone Else’s Shoes” panel discussion
Chip Baggett on panel
Dr. Walker-McGill address crowd at “Someone Else’s Shoes”