Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist Becomes Exclusive Medical Partner of Metropolitan Village Development in East Winston-Salem

Maya Angelou Center for Health Equity will help activate 8,000 square feet and bring expertise in community-based health equity research and outreach to the development

September 22, 2022

Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist was announced as the exclusive medical partner of the new Metropolitan Village mixed-use redevelopment effort in East Winston-Salem today during a groundbreaking for the new development. As part of the partnership, Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist will partner with community leaders and Liberty Atlantic Development Partners to program 8,000 square feet of community wellness space.

In addition to space for health and wellness coaching and nurse navigators who can work directly with residents on their goals and needs, the Maya Angelou Center for Health Equity will relocate their headquarters to the space to establish a health equity center in the heart of East Winston-Salem.

Metropolitan Village is an “equitable redevelopment” effort announced by United Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church in March of this year and includes numerous initiatives to help improve the lives of its residents. The $65 million mixed-use, mixed-income effort sits east of U.S. Highway 52 adjacent to UMMBC and will include 324 residential units. The effort is in line with the existing East End Master Plan, which has been spearheaded by the S.G. Atkins Community Development Corporation in partnership with the City of Winston-Salem.

Julie Ann Freischlag, M.D., CEO of Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist, dean of Wake Forest University School of Medicine and chief academic officer of Atrium Health was on hand to participate in the groundbreaking in celebration with community leaders from across the city.

“Every community matters,” Freischlag said. “Every community deserves access to the highest quality health care. Through research, health education and training, health promotion and literacy, and social justice programs, Metropolitan Village can become a place where we all work to reduce health disparities and improve the quality of life. We are honored to have been entrusted with this unique opportunity.”

The Maya Angelou Center for Health Equity is an institutionally sponsored center of Wake Forest University School of Medicine that promotes health equity through interdisciplinary community-engaged research, health education and training, health promotion and literacy and social justice initiatives.

“The Maya Angelou Center for Health Equity is committed to reaching communities where they are. This is accomplished by cultivating trusting relationships with families and individuals who call East Winston Salem home,” said Goldie S. Byrd, Ph.D., professor of public health sciences and director of the Maya Angelou Center for Health Equity at Wake Forest University School of Medicine. “An important part of building trust is becoming a part of the community we seek to serve and is why we are looking forward to moving into our new home in Metropolitan Village. Our goal is to leverage this opportunity to empower and serve this very important community by first understanding its needs and priorities and working collaboratively to achieve health equity.”

For the last several years Innovation Quarter—an initiative of the School of Medicine—has provided the spaces and resources required to support research and development for the project. The partnership has led to key advancements in making health-related services more affordable and accessible in underserved communities. The Innovation Quarter was recognized last year by the Global Institute on Innovation Districts as a “Best Practice in Creating Integrated Spaces” for its approach to strategic placemaking and building vibrant community.

“One of our most important goals for Innovation Quarter is to support and encourage inclusive and equitable community development in Winston-Salem and most especially in our surrounding neighborhoods,” said Terry L. Hales, Jr., MBA, senior vice president and executive vice chief academic officer for Wake Forest University School of Medicine. “A strong Metropolitan Village makes for a stronger Innovation Quarter by improving the mental, physical, spiritual and financial well-being of its residents, resulting in a stronger workforce.”

The investment in East Winston-Salem is another step in Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist’s ongoing commitment to lasting community engagement in the communities it serves, including unreimbursed care, charity care, education and research funding, community health initiatives and subsidized operations for Downtown Health Plaza, as well as Bethesda and Southside health clinics.

In addition, the new strategic combination with Atrium Health will continue to invest in new facilities and help expand educational programs, biomedical research, clinical trials and life-saving treatments to help improve the health of the community and make health care more accessible and affordable for all.

Media contact: Joe McCloskey,