When the newly expanded Novant Health Today’s Adult Primary Care holds its ribbon-cutting ceremony in east Winston-Salem on May 22, longtime patient Sotonya Nelums will be there – dancing.

It’s not hard to picture the self-described “Madea” of her neighborhood kicking up her heels to celebrate. The woman who feeds everybody and has a door that’s always open is also a yearslong clinic fan.

She bought a house in Winston-Salem’s historically Black Boston-Thurmond community in 1997, shortly after Novant Health Today’s Woman OB/GYN clinic opened. As part of the clinic’s initial outreach efforts, the team distributed fliers throughout the neighborhood. Nelums, 51, got one – and soon became a patient.

“I was one of the first patients who ever walked in,” she said. In the years she’s been a patient, she’s built trusting relationships with doctors and other team members. “When I call, they know me,” Nelums said.

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Nelums understands the importance of good health care. She worked as a certified nursing assistant (CNA) at Novant Health in 1999 and has spent most of her career working in area nursing homes.

Soon after Nelums became a patient, her three children began going to the adjacent Novant Health Today’s Pediatrics.

Nelums grew up in a large family and became matriarch of a large brood herself. Her 11 grandchildren, who range from 6 months to 13 years old – live close by and get their medical care at their neighborhood clinic, too.

And why wouldn’t they? Remarkable care has rarely been so convenient. “If you blink between my house and Today’s Woman, you’ll be there,” she said. “That’s how close it is.”

Every member of Nelums’ family is a patient – except for the men, she pointed out. Her husband and son haven’t been able to go, as the clinic has – until now – served exclusively women and children.

And the staff has done a terrific job serving those populations, Nelums said.

“They are helping young ladies become mothers” when the time comes, she said. She included her two daughters in that list. Parenting classes helped them both know what to expect before their babies arrived.

The clinic team finds it extraordinarily special that they’re starting to care for a second and even third generation of patients. “We’re starting to witness full-circle generational care at this neighborhood clinic,” said Nicole Brenner, senior director, Novant Health Women’s & Children’s Institute for the greater Winston-Salem market. “I’m truly touched when I hear stories about girls who grew up in this community and received care at this clinic, now back today as moms with their own children. Many of our team members have worked at these clinics for a long time, and they know these families. A special bond has formed over the years.”

Nelums calls the clinic “the best thing this community has ever had” and added, “The love from them is genuine. Their hearts are bigger than their bodies.”

Bringing primary care to a population that needs it

Sotonya Nelums4 5-9-24 1

But May 22, when the remodeled and expanded space reopens, it will include a brand-new clinic for adults. And this marks the first time the facility has offered primary care services to men.

Nearly a year after crews broke ground at the corner of Today’s Woman Avenue and Burton Street, the clinic is ready to improve access to primary care services in an area that has a shortage of health care providers. Families like Sotonya Nelums’ can now all get health care at the same family-centered clinic.

That’s noteworthy because east Winston-Salem is a historically underserved area.

The expanded Novant Health Today's Clinics are the latest examples of the health care system’s commitment to supporting all aspects of health and wellness, including the social determinants of health. Those, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), include “the nonmedical factors that influence health outcomes” and may include economic policies, political systems, racism, even climate change.

“Not having access to primary care services can and often does lead to worse health outcomes down the road,” said Joyce Mounce, senior director, Novant Health Community Health & Wellness Institute for the greater Winston-Salem market at the June 2023 groundbreaking. “This new clinic will not only improve access to needed primary care services, but it will also allow families … to receive all their care in one convenient location.”

Bigger. And better.

The renovation has added an additional 2,745 square feet to the clinic. The exam room space has nearly doubled. And the clinic’s on-site community engagement center has been renovated and expanded to include a new multipurpose space.

It’s incredibly convenient for those who live in the neighborhood to have three clinics – for men, women and children – all co-located in the same place. All three offer health care to patients regardless of their ability to pay.

  • Novant Health Today’s Woman OB/GYN provides obstetric and gynecologic services to women of all ages, maternity care, wellness exams and sick care Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Friday, 8 a.m. to noon.
  • Novant Health Today’s Pediatrics provides primary care services for children from birth to age 18. These services include well-child checkups, sick care, physical exams and services designed to prevent and treat childhood obesity. The clinic is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Novant Health Today’s Adult Primary Care will provide comprehensive primary care services for patients 18 and over Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Since the beginning, the center’s staff has worked to eliminate barriers to health care. That can take the form of education about preventive health care, transportation assistance or connecting patients to community resources such as food pantries.

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