Lawrence Davies

Reverend Lawrence A. Davies was Mayor of Fredericksburg from 1976 to 1996. He worked with Mary Washington Healthcare (MWH MediCorp) to develop plans for the new hospital on the Snowden campus that opened in 1993. Davies was elected to the Fredericksburg City Council in 1966 and served as a city council member until being elected mayor. Davies served as pastor at Shiloh Baptist Church (Old Site) from 1962 until he retired fifty years later in 2012.

Reverend Davies was interviewed by Jess Rigelhaupt on January 26, 2015.

Discursive Table of Contents

00:00:00-00:15:00
First memories of Mary Washington Hospital after moving to Fredericksburg in 1962 to serve as Reverend at Shiloh Baptist Church (Old Site)—Mary Washington Hospital was segregated in 1962—African American physicians practicing in Fredericksburg in the 1960s—Segregation and limited relationship between Mary Washington Hospital and Fredericksburg’s African American communities in the 1960s—African Americans often sought treatment at Freedman’s Hospital in Washington, D.C.—Memories of desegregating Mary Washington Hospital

00:15:00-00:30:00
Conversations with administrators at Mary Washington Hospital about the need to make policy changes and end segregation—Process of desegregating Mary Washington Hospital

00:30:00-00:45:00
Elected to Fredericksburg City Council in 1966—The relationship between Mary Washington Hospital and Fredericksburg—Mayoral campaign and victory in 1976—Black churches and connections to social change

00:45:00-01:00:00
Working with Mary Washington Hospital as Mayor of Fredericksburg—Working with Mary Washington Hospital to ensure the new hospital was built in the city—Working with Bill Jacobs, CEO

01:00:00-01:15:00
Memories of the new Mary Washington Hospital opening in 1993—Benefits to the city from Mary Washington Hospital—Community benefit—Serving on the Mary Washington Hospital Foundation Board—Moss Free Clinic—Grants from the Mary Washington Hospital Foundation Community Service Fund

01:15:00-01:23:18
Mobile mammography and breast cancer screening funded by the Mary Washington Hospital Foundation Community Service Fund—FRED Transit funded by the Mary Washington Hospital Foundation Community Service Fund and other sources—Mary Washington Hospital is one of the backbone institutions of Fredericksburg area

Transcript

00:00:05
Rigelhaupt:
It is January 26, 2015. I am in Fredericksburg, Virginia, doing an oral history interview with Reverend Lawrence Davies for the Mary Washington Healthcare Oral History Project. To begin, I would like to ask you, if you can recall your first interaction with Mary Washington Hospital.

00:00:24
Davies:
Okay. We came to Fredericksburg in 1962. One of our daughters has sickle cell anemia and we had an interaction with the physicians, at least, here almost immediately after coming here. When we came to Fredericksburg, Mary Washington was still segregated and all of the patients of color were assigned to the fourth floor, no matter what the illness or aggravation was. There were two African American doctors, one African American dentist. The African American doctors took care of patients who did not need hospitalization, but when the patients became seriously enough ill, they suggested that they go to Mary Washington. But they could not attend them while they were there because they weren’t on the staff. And so they had to assign them to white doctors. As I said before, all of the patients at that hospital were placed on the fourth floor, no matter what the illness was or what the nature of their disorder was. There were two black doctors, Dr. Ellison and Dr. S. O’Brien Payne. There was one black dentist. They were the ones who took care of the patients in the city and some of them outside of the city, also.

00:02:09
Rigelhaupt:
Was one of those physicians your family physician?

00:02:14
Davies:
Yes. Dr. Ellison became our family physician. We came to Fredericksburg from Washington, DC. When we were in Washington, our daughter was attended to at the Children’s Hospital in DC. So when we came here, we kept that relationship open for several years. When she became ill Dr. Ellison was the first one we turned to, but when it became too serious for him or too involved for the resources that he had available here, we went back to Washington, DC. [03:00] And so for many years, our daughter went back to Children’s Hospital in Washington for the treatment that she needed. There were other patients or other people of color in this area who, when they needed medical care and were not assigned to a white physician, they went either to Richmond or to Northern Virginia or to DC for hospitalization and for the treatment that they needed.

00:03:37
Rigelhaupt:
When you first moved here, was your daughter treated at Mary Washington Hospital?

00:03:46
Davies:
No.

00:03:47
Rigelhaupt:
Okay.

00:03:47
Davies:
No. There was no treatment that we saw here. It was years after we got here that Dr. Ellison and one of the white physicians collaborated. We shifted to the doctor here, Dr. Painter, if I’m not mistaken. He took over and he did an excellent job in helping us to keep in the course. On one or two occasions, when she had to be hospitalized, he made it possible for them to have transportation, immediate transportation from here to Washington, DC, so she could get the treatment in Children’s Hospital. Because even then they didn’t have all that was needed for her to get the kind of treatment that she needed for that disorder at this hospital.

00:04:54
Rigelhaupt:
Do you remember the first time that you either saw a patient who might’ve been a family friend or a family or in your roll as a chaplain at Mary Washington Hospital?

00:05:10
Davies:
No. Not as a chaplain. As a member of the congregation, I visited them in the hospital and, of course, as I said, at that time, it wasn’t difficult to find them because everybody was on the fourth floor. We had prayer with them and that sort of thing. Very rarely did we coordinate anything with a physician, but we went to see them as the pastor of the church or as a pastor who was referred by a friend.

00:05:50
Rigelhaupt:
How would you characterize the connection between Mary Washington Hospital and Fredericksburg’s African American communities the first few years you were here? [06:00]

00:06:03
Davies:
Segregation was still the order of the day. There was a relationship that had to be formed. It wasn’t, I guess, with the entire community because the black community didn’t look toward the hospital until there was this necessity at that particular level of treatment that was needed in order for them to go. And because of segregation—95 was not open when we first came. I-95 was not open. Route 1 was the major highway through here. When there were accidents on the highway, because of segregation, in terms of accommodations, people who were involved in that accident, who didn’t have to be hospitalized, had to stay around until either some member of their family or someone came—if they were from out of town—came into Fredericksburg to pick them up to take them home. There were no accommodations available on open basis and the hospital called ministers, myself and the other ministers, in the area to house the people who were in the automobile accident, until someone could come from out of town to pick them up. As a result of that, there were times where people had to spend the night with us and we had to provide food, as well as a shelter for them, until someone else came to pick them up. But that was the order of the day.

00:08:07
Rigelhaupt:
So what were some of the things that you remember either friends or family or members of your congregation going to Mary Washington Hospital for in these first few years when it was still a segregated facility?

00:08:24
Davies:
Well, we didn’t go any more than we had to. As I said, there were avenues out of town for the treatment that they had if they didn’t have a white physician who was attending them. And as a result, there was not a great deal of interaction at that time.

00:08:53
Rigelhaupt:
Was childbirth—did people have babies in the hospital?

00:08:57
Davies:
They must have. [09:00] In fact, I’m not sure. As I said, I think that what happened there was that either they went north or south to the other hospitals or the physician had a local physician to work with them in terms of bringing about that childbirth or whatever complications might have arisen in connection with that.

00:09:31
Rigelhaupt:
Was Children’s Hospital in DC also a segregated hospital?

00:09:35
Davies:
No.

00:09:36
Rigelhaupt:
Okay. Mr. Richardson, when I interviewed him, said a lot of people also sought treatment at Freedmen’s Hospital—

00:09:43
Davies:
Yes. That’s right. I forgot about that. I’ve thought about Children’s because our child attended Children’s. Freedmen’s hospital—Dr. Ellison referred many of his patients, I guess the vast majority of his patients, to the hospital at Freedmen’s in DC.

00:10:06
Rigelhaupt:
In those first few years, while the hospital was still segregated, do you remember members of your congregation or friends of family worked there?

00:10:16
Davies:
At Mary Washington? I’m sure some of them worked in custodial opportunities, but that was all.

00:10:27
Rigelhaupt:
No nurses?

00:10:28
Davies:
No. No.

00:10:30
Rigelhaupt:
And the two African—

00:10:31
Davies:
Now they had some nurse’s assistants and—what is it? Not registered nurses, but the level below that.

00:10:47
Rigelhaupt:
LPNs?

00:10:48
Davies:
Yes. LPN. They had some LPNs and some nurse’s assistants who were there.

00:10:58
Rigelhaupt:
So it was a place of employment, but with limited opportunities and limited numbers.

00:11:02
Davies:
Right. Yes. That’s true.

00:11:07
Rigelhaupt:
When do you remember the hospital desegregating?

00:11:13
Davies:
I don’t remember what year it was. I just don’t remember. It must’ve been in the ‘60s, though.

00:11:26
Rigelhaupt:
I don’t know the exact year, either, but from what I’ve heard, it was probably before you were serving on city council in ‘66. Does that sound like that had happened before you were in public office?

00:11:37
Davies:
That’s quite possible. That’s quite possible. They did at some point—and here again, my problem is I can’t remember details. At some point, the policy shifted and when they were on Fall Hill Avenue, at that hospital. That’s where they were when the policy shifted so that patients of color could be assigned to any floor. [12:00] But I don’t remember what year this took place.

00:12:15
Rigelhaupt:
Do you remember how you found out about that? Was there notification? Was it something that just kind of happened?

00:12:25
Davies:
I don’t remember. I don’t know if there was a public announcement in the newspaper or word just spread out through the community. I know that persons who went to the black physicians were told by them in cases, but I don’t remember if there was a public announcement or declaration had ended and the new policy had been installed.

00:12:59
Rigelhaupt:
Did you have a sense, you know—and I’m not asking for a specific time—but that after that policy ended, and it desegregated, that the relationship between the hospital in Fredericksburg, and even in Spotsy and Stafford and the outlying counties, the African American communities started to forge a different relationship to the hospital?

00:13:22
Davies:
Yes. They were able to forge a different relationship because of the change in policy. It wasn’t overnight, however, because we’re creatures of habit and the old relationships they had, they held onto for the most part. As new opportunities came available to come in and to get better treatment, even though the physicians were still, seeming as I remember, barred—they had to get white physicians to take care of their patients when they went in there even after they changed that policy.

00:14:07
Rigelhaupt:
So Dr. Ellison and Dr. Payne were not immediately, in your recollection, granted privileges?

00:14:12
Davies:
No, they weren’t. If I remember correctly, they weren’t granted privileges at the same time. Dr. Ellison was granted privileges before Dr. Payne. Eventually Dr. Payne was granted privileges, also. Dr. Ellison’s image is found in the hospital on the first floor now. I think that that’s a part of a reminder that he was the first one who had privileges in the hospital, treating and meeting with patients.

00:15:00
Rigelhaupt:
Do you remember one of the early instances in which you visited a family member or friend or congregant in the hospital after the segregation policies had ended?

00:15:16
Davies:
I remember that I visited them and, of course, we were able to go into the rooms wherever they had been assigned. And, of course, there was interest and appreciation for the fact that the policy had changed and they were able to utilize the hospital to a better and greater extent. Yes.

00:15:50
Rigelhaupt:
One of the things we know historically is this period between 1960 and 1965 there was significant effort to desegregate public facilities. Do you remember if the hospital was of particular focus in those efforts, that there would—

00:16:10
Davies:
Yes. The hospital was a focus from the time that we came. The community felt that all of the patients shouldn’t be on one floor, no matter what the problem was. They should have access, just as others had access. This was brought to the attention of the administrators of the hospital, and it may have had something to do—I’m not sure that it did, but it may have had something to do with their willingness to change the policy.

00:16:50
Rigelhaupt:
Do you remember discussions about it, and if there was any particular effort, in the sense that the hospital probably was not a target of lunch counter sit-ins, or ways that we learn about the efforts to desegregate public facilities. Do you remember conversations you had with people about how you would try to end that policy at the hospital?

00:17:20
Davies:
No. The only discussions that I can remember took place with the administrators of the hospital at that time, to get them to consider the policy changes that we were discussing. Now, we had, at some point, a biracial commission. [bell rings] Will that bother you? Okay. We had, at one time, a biracial commission. And I’m not sure whether or not the bi-racial commission went to the hospital with reference to their policy or not. It may have been that the policy was changed before the biracial commission came in. [18:00] The time, in fact, I can’t remember.

00:18:11
Rigelhaupt:
Do you remember personally being involved with the meeting with the hospital administrator about the policy?

00:18:17
Davies:
Yes. We talked with the hospital administrator at that time about the policy, and that the community was concerned about it. We wanted to see if a change could be effected.

00:18:35
Rigelhaupt:
Was it Harry Bach that you met with?

00:18:36
Davies:
Yes.

00:18:38
Rigelhaupt:
And how did he respond to what you and your colleagues were bringing to him?

00:18:43
Davies:
I think he took it under consideration, but he also had to consider the attitude of the community. It was not something that I remember happening overnight. There were discussions and he had to discuss it with other people. As a result of that, eventually—I don’t know if these discussions were the result—or what brought about the result. But as a result of all of the factors together, they did change the policy. It was not an instant, overnight kind of thing.

00:19:28
Rigelhaupt:
Do you remember if it took multiple meetings, or if, really, the sense was that it was going to be a slow process, and that he had heard concerns?

00:19:40
Davies:
To the best of my memory, there was more than one meeting. There were discussions to make known both sides of the issue and discussions as to how objections might be dealt with in a positive way. How the change of attitude might be put before the community.

00:20:16
Rigelhaupt:
Some of the people that Mr. Bach would’ve worked with as a hospital administrator would’ve been the board.

00:20:21
Davies:
Yes. I’m sure.

00:20:23
Rigelhaupt:
Do you remember any meetings with the board, or expressing concerns about the policies to board members?

00:20:28
Davies:
I don’t remember that. I don’t remember that taking place. We dealt with Mr. Bach himself.

00:20:46
Rigelhaupt:
As you alluded to, this was not an instantaneous process. And certainly, you know, we know Jim Crow-style segregation did officially end at the hospital, but it certainly doesn’t simply disappear. [21:00] Do you remember things that would have stood out in your mind in the—during the process that signaled that the policy was winding down—patients being on lots of floors, new opportunities for physicians?

00:21:22
Davies:
No. I don’t remember anything. Leading up to that, I think that we just became aware that the policy had changed. And again, I’m not sure how we became aware, if a public announcement was made, or the hospital made the policy change quietly, and then it sifted out into the community, but it did change.

00:21:52
Rigelhaupt:
Do you remember some of the things that—and this was probably hard to pin down in terms of a year—but some of the things that, again, friends and family, or members of your congregation began to see treatment for at the hospital when maybe a few years before, they had gone either to Washington, DC, or to Richmond—that some of the things they started to be treated for at the hospital?

00:22:19
Davies:
No. I’m not aware of any of those things.

00:22:26
Rigelhaupt:
Did you have a sense that, in the—and again, not from a specific time period, but as the process unfolded—and again, not instantaneous—there were still legacies of the kind of segregation, where people were hesitant to seek treatment there? Are there things that stand out in your mind, where you perhaps had a conversation with someone and they decided to go north or south, rather than seeing treatment here, even after the policy had officially ended?

00:23:00
Davies:
Yes, because they were accustomed to going in all those directions. And they said, “Well, we’ve already established this and we’re not going to break it off just to go here.” In some cases, there was not a feeling of an overwhelming welcome on the part of those who did go. For the sake of comfort and familiarity, they held onto the old ways of doing things. It was not an overnight turn, from the community’s position, to go into Mary Washington Hospital. It took time.

00:23:48
Rigelhaupt:
Do you remember any effort by the hospital to participate in any outreach or, you know, try and welcome people that otherwise had been in a segregated hospital? [24:00]

00:24:06
Davies:
I can’t really tell you that I’m aware of any. I’m sure there must’ve been some, because when they changed the policy they would have wanted people to be aware of it and to take advantage of it. There were still the attitudes of people, and not wanting to get in the same room, and that sort of thing—at that time you didn’t have individual beds like you do now. You had wards and you had multiple beds in rooms. After the policy change, there was an effort, if I remember correctly, to keep the same race in the same room, and not mix the patients up in terms of their stay there.

00:25:00
Rigelhaupt:
And so even though the official policy had ended, in practice, to a certain degree, it continued.

00:25:07
Davies:
There was a difference, however, because they got off the fourth floor, exclusively, and they were on the other floors. But they didn’t mix the races, as I remember, in the rooms. They made sure that they were all the same race. I guess the same sex was a priority, too. You would expect that.

00:25:38
Rigelhaupt:
And certainly, part of a hospital is inpatient treatment—a person who is sick will end up in a room, either, you know, pre-planned for surgery, or something along those lines. But people also enter through the emergency room. Do you remember any discussion about emergency room and the history of segregation in hospitals?

00:26:04
Davies:
There were feelings that persons of color may have had to wait longer for admission or for treatment once they went into the emergency room. At that time, I don’t remember Mary Washington being known for its immediate treatment of any patients. And that sort of extended up until a very few years ago. Pretty good waits that you had to undergo at Mary Washington. Now in terms of diseases and disorders like sickle cell anemia, not many doctors or staff persons knew anything about sickle cell anemia. [27:00] I remember we went there, and unless we were taken by the rescue squad, we could sit there and our daughter was in pretty excruciating pain. But they didn’t have doctors that knew a lot about it and they didn’t know exactly how to deal with it in some cases. I guess disorders that were not in the mainstream, they had to take a backseat, so to speak. They were not dealt with, with the same effectiveness and speed as those that they knew and were throughout the community. If you understand what I’m trying to say.

00:27:55
Rigelhaupt:
The complex cases weren’t necessarily treated as well in the emergency department?

00:28:01
Davies:
Right. Right. Because the doctors didn’t know how to treat them. Those who were assigned to emergency room were, I guess, for all practical purposes, general practitioners, and they knew how to deal with general disorders. But orders of a specific nature—I think, it may have been the same thing with white patients who had something out of the mainstream. That was the way it was. At that time, it was not a racial thing. It was just a lack of knowledge of how to deal with them.

00:28:59
Rigelhaupt:
When do you remember having a sense that the emergency department was able to deal, or even the hospital, in general was better able to deal with something like sickle cell anemia or more complex cases?

00:29:16
Davies:
A few years ago, not very many years ago. As a matter of fact, there are still patients, sickle cell patients, who don’t go to Mary Washington because they feel that they don’t understand the disorder. Very often, there is pain, very severe pain attached to it. The doctors there are afraid that if they give them too much medication, they say that they might become addicted to some of these medications. They withheld it, and still, in some cases, do. They are better aware of how to deal with these cases now, but there is still a great deal that they don’t know about it. [30:00] There are still problems so that people with sickle cell anemia, and problems like that, still go out, even though Mary Washington has come along way. They’re not able, in terms of their understanding of the treatment, to deal with it in the same way.

00:30:29
Rigelhaupt:
You were elected to City Council in 1966.

00:30:33
Davies:
Yes.

00:30:34
Rigelhaupt:
Did you begin to learn things about the hospital as you began to serve in city office, in elected office, that you might not have had knowledge about, or been privy to, before you began to serve as an elected official?

00:30:54
Davies:
Only as it dealt with budgetary considerations. How this affected the treatment and the quality of treatment at the hospital. But that’s about the extent of it.

00:31:13
Rigelhaupt:
Do you remember some of the budgetary—and not exact figures; it was a long time ago—but, I mean, the types of things that you and your fellow city council members were talking about in relation to the hospital?

00:31:28
Davies:
The hospital provided tax income to the city. It was pretty much what the hospital did for the city rather than what the city did for the hospital. The city was aware of the importance of the hospital. They did the best that they could, in terms of responding to the needs that the hospital and made the city aware of it. That’s pretty much the way it went.

00:32:09
Rigelhaupt:
You know, thinking about the decade between when you’re elected to City Council and begin to serve as mayor, do you remember any things that the hospital came to the city and said, “We could use this,” and asked for either tax breaks or even the infrastructure?

00:32:29
Davies:
Okay. No. I’m not able to do it. There are others that I referred you to who would be able to give you that kind of information. But you’re speaking on the time before I became mayor and I just remember that the hospital was important to us in the tax base that it supplied. [33:00] We were tempted to respond to those things that they indicated that they needed so that they would be prepared to do the kind of job they wanted to do, as close as it was possible for us to do.

00:33:30
Rigelhaupt:
Could you talk about your decision to run for mayor and your decision to seek that office?

00:33:37
Davies:
Okay. I had been on the council for several terms. There was a growing alliance between persons of the Democratic Party and black community. The black community was beginning to see the advantage of voting. Now this did not really become a dominant factor until after 1965 when the Voting Rights Act was passed. Then a number of persons in the black community registered to vote. Before that, very few persons registered to vote, simply because they felt that the administration or the larger community was going to do whatever it wanted to do and they couldn’t elect even a dog catcher, in terms of the number of voters that they had. This was not a priority with the black voters until 1965. Before that, though, the way the black community became sensitized to the importance of black voting and black unity was we served as the President of the PTA of Walker Grant School. It was the only black school in Fredericksburg. It had both elementary and high school. [36:00] As you know, as a result of the civil rights law and the education discrimination laws that the Supreme Court overturned, then blacks began to move toward enrollment in white schools. Before that desegregation was complete, there were two sets of black schools and white schools, predominantly—well, exclusively, really. At one point, when we were serving as Chairman of PTA, the people began to get very disturbed about three factors: one was that Walker Grant School only received new furniture, as it was called, when James Monroe received new furniture. The new furniture that Walker Grant received was the discarded furniture from James Monroe. There was a concern about that. There was concern about the fact that when some of the black students went to college, they had to do remedial work because there were classes because they couldn’t get at high school here because they didn’t offer them to blacks. When they went to the administration about it they said, “Well, you just don’t have enough students to justify the expense of trying to offer these things, especially lab courses, and that sort of thing. And so this is just the way it is.” As a result of that and other disagreements, they decided to go to eliminate the disparity between those two schools. The initial effort failed. They accepted our appeal and were very kind and nice about it, but they said no. The community said, “We need to do something.” Eventually, they said, “Well, maybe the better thing to do is to try to get a black elected to the school board so we’ll have direct representation at that level and we can get more action.” As a result, the black community came together and worked to get a black member of the city school board appointed. The school board members were not elected at that time. [39:00] They were appointed by the council. The council, responding to the community, did appoint Mr. Clarence Todd to become the first black school board member. When he became a school board member, he was able to effect some changes. The people said, “Well, we’ve done well here.” We have community needs throughout and recreation was one that was outstanding in the minds of the young people, as you might expect. Over in the Mayfield area, there were needs, civic needs that were not met. They said, “Well, we need to do something here.” They began to work toward trying to get the political strength to afford, or to bring about changes, in the community. After the Civil Rights Act and after the Voting Rights Act, they came together and said, “Let’s try to put somebody on directly.” Actually, the first effort was made before the Voting Rights Act was involved. Mr. Brown ran for city council. We tried to go to the Taxpayers Association, which was a strong organization at that time, and ask if we could get somebody on that ticket. They said, “No, Fredericksburg’s not ready for that. But if you give us your support, we’ll support the things you want when we get on there.” By that time, the black community was trying to get organized and strength within its own rights. They said, “No. We’ll run our own candidate.” And so we ran a candidate. Well, he, of course, lost. But we found out that he received more votes than there were black registered voters, which said to us that there were whites of good will in the community who could and would support a black candidate because of their feeling about trying to make the black community feel more a part of the total community. The next election around, because I had been working with white ministers—and I must tell you that one of the reasons why we made progress at the beginning was because there were people, whites of good will who were willing to work with people of good will in the black community to bring about changes that were needed to make us all feel a part of one another. [42:00] When we found out that there were whites who would vote for black candidates, we began to strengthen the ties of alliance that we had with the Democrats. They asked me—because I knew people on both sides—to run for the City Council position and I did. At that time, there were thirteen seats for the Council. They were not wards or anything like that. They were all open seats. There were thirteen of them. I was able to get on the thirteenth seat and we’d began to see that political strength and unity could make a difference in our efforts to bring about change. We continued to move forward from that point.

00:43:12
Rigelhaupt:
One of the things you just described is the important role of black churches. And we know that, historically, in terms of the civil rights movement, that the church was an important resource and an important place to gather and to organize. What do you remember about your church and the role that it played in terms of working with you and other people to bring about some of the change that you were describing?

00:43:35
Davies:
After the slavery issue moved forward and Reconstruction took place, released slaves relied, basically, on their faith to see them through the difficulties and uncertainties that they faced at that time. As a result of that, in the black community the black church became a hub, a core institution in the black community. Therefore, it was the one place where you could find a lot of blacks assembled at one time. The ministers were, in many cases, were civic-minded and knew that the church was needed to help—not only to educate—because a lot of churches started schools within their churches. Churches helped people learn how to read and write and to move along the road of education. The minister had relative freedom. If other people tried to bring about social changes in these communities, they could lose their jobs or have the banks take in their debts. [45:00] They were handcuffed by that fact. But in many cases, the black church was not owned by outside forces and in black communities black ministers were freer. Most of them had to have jobs because the churches weren’t able to support them totally, but they were freer to make statements and to take positions in the communities. As a result of that, the black church became kind of a core organization in the black community. The NAACP worked with and went through the churches because they knew that they would have money coming in from people and that they couldn’t get in any other way. They could have the manpower. They could get people together on a quicker basis than in any other source. They began to lean upon churches, and the churches assumed the role, kind of a central role. The churches had a power of their own because of these factors coming together at that level. Our church did not work by itself. All the churches worked together because we were all concerned about it. The unity that we were able to get and the manpower that we were able to get from the churches allowed information to get out of the churches because people were assembled in that way. That helped us to bring about the changes that were needed.

00:46:59
Rigelhaupt:
What you described is the importance of black churches and the importance of civil rights organizations, like the NAACP. Do you remember if either your church or other churches you were working with, or other ministers you were working with, or the NAACP, or other civil rights organizations talked a lot about questions of segregation in health care and in hospitals, either here or perhaps even in the broader region that you were working with?

00:47:33
Davies:
No. Not as a specific issue, but as a part of the total concerns of the community. They didn’t say that health care is an outstanding factor. It’s one of the factors that we’re having to deal with and we need to get together to try to address it and bring about changes as we bring about changes in other ways in the community. [48:00]

00:48:05
Rigelhaupt:
But hospitals and health care didn’t necessarily receive the kind of attention—or places of activism, like schools or like lunch counters—I mean, it wasn’t necessarily a target.

00:48:25
Davies:
I don’t remember that taking place. I don’t remember it being that way.

00:48:36
Rigelhaupt:
So you talked about the political foundation that led up to, or contributed to, your election to city council, and eventually, your election as mayor. Do you remember in the first few years of being mayor that you learned things about Mary Washington Hospital that would’ve been new or different because now you were the mayor of the city?

00:49:09
Davies:
I can’t say that I do remember anything. But my problem, in part, is here, again, when things took place. I don’t know if I was still a member of council or if I was in the mayor’s position when they began to talk about moving from the Fall Hill position to the present position. They came to the council because they wanted to lay out a plan to council and tell the council what direction they wanted to go. At that point, I remember hearing them say that the approach to health care was going to be changing. From the past, people would be assigned to hospitals. They would remain there a long time. Until they, in many cases, could take care of themselves, or be assured that somebody was there to take care of them. They said that this was going to change. The new policy was going to be that they were going to have individual rooms, that they were going to shorten the stay of the patients, and other changes were going to take place in health care. I think that some of this was motivated by the insurance companies, but it was the direction that they were moving. They planned the new hospital with these changes in mind. [51:00] They moved forward with that. Now, from the city’s perspective, there was some talk about the new hospital not being where it is. It was one of the locations that were under consideration. There were considerations of a place in Stafford and considerations of a place in Spotsylvania. The City of Fredericksburg said, “We have a situation here, tax-wise. We’re going to suffer pretty greatly.” You have a situation here of one of the largest employers of people moving out of the city. You have a situation where physicians had set up their offices close to the hospital so that they could be close. Around Fall Hill you would see that there were a number of physicians who had set up their offices over there, across from the hospital, to be near it. There was a pharmacy, on the corner across from the bank so that they could have access. The city said, “We’ll lose all of this if we lose this hospital.” The city made it a high priority—one of the highest, I guess, if not the highest priority—to keep that hospital within the city limits. The location where it is, is the location that had been proposed for it to be in the city. For a long while, there was a great struggle because the hospital continued to ask for accommodations, considerations, and concessions to stay where they were going. They were getting these, to some extent, from all three localities. It got to the point where the locality would begin to say, “They’re taking everything we have and we can’t really supply all of this. We need to try to find out a way that we can deal with this.” There were other considerations for relocating the hospital: I think the place of Geico and where extension Mary Washington’s extension is out on Route 17. [54:00] There was the question of whether Stafford, probably, or Spotsylvania was going to wind up with. Each of the localities had to talk about the fact that we can only give so much, even as important as it is; we can only give away so much and come out reasonably well. Eventually, the city was able to grant the hospital what was needed. Stafford was able to get Geico and the extended campus of Mary Washington. I don’t remember what Spotsylvania got at that time. It may have been, at that time, that a commitment was made to help Spotsylvania get the hospital. The health care need was growing throughout the entire area, and hospitals further away were trying to maybe come this way and impose themselves on us. As a result of that, eventually we wound up with Fredericksburg getting Mary Washington where it is now. Spotsylvania was, I think, the last to get what they wanted. At some point, it became a fact that there were additional hospital facilities needed to cover the area that was growing. Fredericksburg was able to give enough concession to hold onto Mary Washington and to have a place where it is.

00:56:13
Rigelhaupt:
Before asking you a couple questions about the concessions and the process of working with the hospital. I’m making a presumption here, that as mayor you probably got a heads up from the hospital before the first presentation in a public forum. That a hospital administrator or someone from the board said, Mayor Davies, we’re thinking of—

00:56:34
Davies:
No. They didn’t come to me, personally. They came to the council and said that this is what we propose to do and this is the basis on which we’re making this proposal. We need your support in order to get it done. Seeing their plans and knowing how it would affect the area, we proposed to get in behind it and support it as strongly as we could. [57:00]

00:57:10
Rigelhaupt:
So you’re among the city council and you, as mayor, and the city council supports some concessions, some efforts—

00:57:18
Davies:
Definitely.

00:57:19
Rigelhaupt:
—to keep the hospital in the city and on the Snowden campus where it is now. Were there any board members or community leaders that raised any concerns, or were apprehensive about the kind of concessions that you were talking about?

00:57:36
Davies:
There must’ve been, but I don’t remember who they were. I know that there were some in the community who didn’t understand how important Mary Washington was to the city and who were concerned about the concessions being made. We knew that, in the long run, maybe even in the short run, it was worth our effort to keep that hospital within the boundaries of the city for many reasons. As I said, they were the largest employer, along with the college. I don’t know which one was the larger of the two. The tax changes that would’ve been made because those doctors—if the hospital had gone far enough away, the doctors would have had to leave their places and go out to be near to the hospital so that they could attend it. And for the treatment that they were able to give, and the benefits that came, health wise, for for the community in which they were and closely identified—all of these things together showed that we really needed to make this a priority, and it was, for a while, I know, the highest priority that we had in the city.

00:59:05
Rigelhaupt:
Do you remember any of the board members or administrators that you had meetings with, or talked with regularly, about keeping the hospital in the city?

00:59:19
Davies:
The hospital administrator at that time was a shrewd negotiator, and I can’t remember his name, unfortunately, right now. His name comes up and I think he was there at that thing. I don’t know that we had so much to do with the board. If we met with the board, he was the spokesman for the board, and we went forward from that position, but it was board with board. There are no individuals other than the administrator having that ability as the leader of that group. [01:00:00]

01:00:05
Rigelhaupt:
Was that administrator Bill Jacobs?

01:00:08
Davies:
Bill Jacobs. That’s his name. Yes.

01:00:15
Rigelhaupt:
As you were talking about this new hospital and it was Bill Jacobs who was negotiating, do you remember any sense that the hospital would turn into a regional medical campus the way it is now or as it was viewed then, was it really seen as a replacement, a new hospital that would be more or less the same as what had existed on Fall Hill?

01:00:39
Davies:
No. I think from the very beginning, they had expanded. I think they may have shared some of this with us. They had ideas of expansion and becoming a region-wide facility. And they did grow, in terms of the people and doctors that they were able to attract in and the equipment that they added, too. The services that they added served, still, a greater area, much greater area than they did at first. From the beginning, I’m pretty sure that they had a regional approach in mind. As I said, I think that maybe it didn’t go quite as far because there were hospitals from the Northern Virginia area who went to this area with some of the same concepts.

01:01:043
Rigelhaupt:
What do you remember about the day the hospital opened?

01:01:47
Davies:
There was great joy and celebration. There was a great sense of achievement on a part of the city council in having the hospital open here in Fredericksburg.

01:01:47
Rigelhaupt:
So thinking about maybe the first year—and again, I don’t have a specific time frame in mind. But after the new hospital opens, what are some of the things that you remember noticing as clear benefits to the community that you can think back go, okay, it was worth it to work with them, and to make sure that they stayed in the city? What were some of the benefits that you saw?

01:02:29
Davies:
The benefits that we were most aware of, of course, were the tax base and the employment opportunities. But now, over time, the extension and expansion of the services that they were available: people didn’t have to go out of town or travel distances for some things that they had to in the past. This was a great benefit. [01:03:00] As I said, they were able to attract quality physicians and in greater numbers. They were able to provide equipment for them to work with that helped them to feel comfortable in coming here. As a result of that, the offerings, the things that they could do for patients, and the ability of patients to get the treatment that they needed here and have the equipment available here in Fredericksburg meant that they didn’t have to travel fifty miles or more to get what they needed. This became obvious to people almost immediately. They’re still growing, but not at the rate that they were at first. They’re still expanding, I think, opportunities for service, the quality of service that they have, and things that they can do. I think heart involvement, now, may be one of the latter things that they have added to it. It’s been an ongoing expansion over the years.

01:04:17
Rigelhaupt:
Do you recall noticing that Mary Washington Hospital, MediCorp at the time, began to reach out to communities that it had not served as effectively after the new hospital opened?

01:04:33
Davies:
Yes. There was structural change at the top level. I think they may have divided themselves into five corporations, or something like that. A part of that meant that they reached out into the community to provide services at places that they had not done before. I can’t remember specific programs, but I remember programs at Hazel Hill, if I’m not mistaken—there was an outreach service. In localities in the communities—in the counties—that they had kind of satellite facilities that came up and people could get services right there, rather than having even to come into the city for them. They had scholarships and grants that they gave to those who provided services that were supportive of what they were trying to do. As a result of that, they reached out into the community in a way that they had not been able to do before and to touch the lives of people in a way that they had not had the opportunity to do before. [01:06:00] It was a very important step, and it’s a very meaningful step that the counties, as well as the city, are still benefiting from.

01:06:24
Rigelhaupt:
What I think you were referring to was the grants probably coming from the Community Service Fund through the foundation that is also now called the Community Benefit Fund.

01:06:34
Davies:
Right. Right.

01:06:38
Rigelhaupt:
Thinking about the City of Fredericksburg, perhaps members of your congregation, members of your neighborhood, the Community Benefit Fund gave grants or worked with this community?

01:06:49
Davies:
I think that they did, as I said, at Hazel Hill. I think they made a nurse available to treat and deal with people’s needs there. They gave grants to organizations and that were able to do some and provided some money for themselves. It was a kind of a partnership responsibility that enabled them to do a lot more than they would’ve been able to do by themselves or touch the community in ways they couldn’t have touched before. And so these, so far as I’m aware, are still in action, and the community is still benefiting from them.

01:07:41
Rigelhaupt:
Do you remember if there was an instance that the Community Service Fund, thinking about community health and community benefit, that anyone from the foundation or the hospital reached out to you as Mayor, or reached out to you as a minister for suggestions?

01:08:01
Davies:
Yes. Xavier Richardson was very strong in that regard. He really had his fingers on the pulse of the community and developed a close relationship so that he was knowledgeable about the needs of the community. Being at the source of foundation he has reached out all over his community and established points of contact and set up relationships that have benefited both the community and the hospital.

01:08:53
Rigelhaupt:
Your mention of Mr. Richardson—looking back at the interview I did with him, I thought that he mentioned that you had served on either the hospital board or the foundation? [01:09:00]

01:09:05
Davies:
I served on one of the boards. I don’t remember now which one. I suspect that it was the foundation board, rather than the hospital board, at that one point. Yes.

01:09:19
Rigelhaupt:
Do you remember things that you learned about, by serving on the board that the general public might not know about how the foundation works in its outreach to the community?

01:09:31
Davies:
Right. That’s how I found out about Mr. Richardson’s involvement, the importance of it, the extent of it, how much it did affect the community, and the hospital having the compassion and the will to reach out to touch the community in these ways. It wasn’t something that they had to do. It was something that they wanted to do, to improve the quality of the health care for the entire community, all around and in the counties as far as they have been. They were able to make these connections and touch the lives of individual people that they wouldn’t have been able to touch without having done this.

01:10:19
Rigelhaupt:
One of the things the health system, at the time, MediCorp, participated in, along with local physicians in the medical society was starting the Moss Free Clinic. Do you have recollections—and I think it started while you were Mayor—about how the city responded? I imagine it was supportive. Do you remember any conversations, plans, the kind of the support the city might’ve offered for something like the Moss Free Clinic?

01:10:49
Davies:
No. But it was important to the city because these were people who could not get assistance in any other way. I think that they weren’t able to get Medicare or Medicaid services, or funding from the federal government for the work that they were doing. As a result of that, the Moss Free Clinic made available free medicine and were able to recruit doctors to give free service. I know of only one other community down in Roanoke-Lynchburg area that was a free clinic. I’m sure that there were others that had the same approach. I don’t think they did as effective a job as we saw the group here doing. The group here is still getting, I think, significant contributions for their service. [01:12:00] They’re still utilizing physicians and recruiting physicians on an important level, to provide these services that these people would not be getting at all, were it not for them.

01:12:24
Rigelhaupt:
Are there other—?

01:24:25
Davies:
I guess these are people we talk about falling through the cracks. These are people that they pick up and keep from having a dearth of areas of support for themselves.

01:12:44
Rigelhaupt:
I think that’s part of the importance of the Moss Free Clinic. But what I was going to ask is are there other organizations or efforts that are similar to the Moss Free Clinic that you can remember the hospital being involved with?

01:13:02
Davies:
There was another program, but I don’t remember its name. I don’t think it has survived. But Mary Washington attempted to meet the medical needs of the community at every level, so that no people would fall through the cracks, so to speak, and that all the needs of all of them would be attempted, at any rate, to be met and effectively dealt with.

01:13:51
Rigelhaupt:
So the ramp-up, I think, around the Community Service Fund, and the grants that went with it, now the Community Benefit Fund, is early to mid-1990s. It’s a period of outreach in trying to support public health initiatives. Is this about era that you would say that the kind of outreach, and support, and reaching out through communities that have been underserved, began to build a new relationship, particularly to Fredericksburg’s African American communities?

01:14:22
Davies:
Actually, they also reached out to churches and our church was included in that. I don’t remember just how now. But as I said, at Hazel Hill, I know that they provided a nurse for their assistance. They supported efforts in churches to support health care, health awareness, wellness programs, and that sort of thing. Our church reached out with other churches—my wife was in charge of that program. Our reached out with other churches and with Hazel Hill. [01:15:00] I think they call it a wellness program that’s in action even now. They left no stone unturned, in terms of trying to meet the health care needs of this entire area, not just this community.

01:15:25
Rigelhaupt:
One of the things that Marguerite Young mentioned to me that the hospital did was mobile mammography, and to try and get breast cancer screening in the community. What are your recollections about that?

01:15:41
Davies:
They had a mobile unit. I can’t remember the lady’s name who drove it, but she went all over the community. They were able to, here again, to provide additional methods of identifying problems and giving some relief to those problems. The program extended out. I don’t know if it’s still in operation now, but they went all over the area into the counties and they gave the mobility that was needed to reach into areas that would’ve been un-reached without that, and to bring some relief to the people who were in those areas.

01:16:41
Rigelhaupt:
One of the controversies that I’ve heard about in the interviews—and I haven’t pinned down the date—was when the city asked if the hospital would donate land for the Thurman-Brisben homeless center. And I don’t know if you were still Mayor. It may have been after you.

01:17:00
Davies:
I don’t remember that problem or that discussion. I must not have been a part of it.

01:17:08
Rigelhaupt:
It was probably after you were no longer mayor. Okay. Are there other city services that you would point to—one that I jotted down in my notes would be the support from hospital foundation grants for the bus service. And the reason I ask about that is that those things that are connected to health care, but not explicitly about hands-on patient care, but something like bus services, about being able to access health care?

01:17:44
Davies:
FRED Transit operates, to a great extent because of Mary Washington College and Mary Washington Hospital. [01:18:00] When we were trying to get that program, that bus transit started, we needed support from the community. The hospital, through its foundation, gave support, and enabled us to get the State’s attention and support for the FRED bus line. Originally, they contributed so that patients coming to Mary Washington and persons working at Mary Washington could ride Fred free because they underwrote the expenses of the transportation. Even now, they are still contributing. I read very recently that Mary Washington gave about $30,000 and Spotsylvania hospital gave about $25,000 to keep that service available to people who were trying to get to the hospitals, either for work purposes or for treatment purposes.

01:19:28
Rigelhaupt:
What are some of the things that you would most want the public to know about Mary Washington Hospital, MediCorp, and now Mary Washington Healthcare—because it’s gone through all three names while you’ve been here, both as a minister and as a city leader—that might not be common knowledge, that you have seen because of the roles that you’ve played in the community?

01:19:53
Davies:
I don’t know how common the knowledge is about Mary Washington Healthcare’s support for transportation for indigent patients to get to and from the hospital, or in some cases, to and from doctors, as a result of an operation. They’re not aware of the ability of workers to be provided that transportation. I don’t think that most people are aware of what that’s all about and how Mary Washington is involved in that. Mary Washington has made contributions that make it one of the backbone institutions of this area, so far as I’m concerned. The spread of its influence and the impact that it’s had on every aspect of community life is unknown and unappreciated, I suspect. [01:21:00] I guess there’s no one-way of bringing it to everybody’s attention. Either you have to go through one of the programs that they provide or the newspaper will help in some way, at some time. But you would have to be very closely aligned with their work, its continuing impact, and the broadening of that impact, to have an awareness of how important it is to the area.

01:22:00
Rigelhaupt:
Well, those were largely my questions. And the last question I always like to ask is actually two questions. But I call it one. Is there anything that I should’ve asked and that I didn’t, and is there anything that you would like to add?

01:22:24
Davies:
My last statement, I think, included what I feel is the comprehensive impact of that institution. And the fact that it’s not just Fredericksburg, but it’s the entire region that has been impacted. It is a growing institution, in that I think that there are still things in their planning that will continue to improve the quality and improve the outreach of their operation. I can’t say enough in support of all that they’ve done and what they’ve meant to the community.

01:23:16
Rigelhaupt:
I think that’s a nice place to end. Thank you.

01:23:18
Davies:
Okay. Thank you.
[End of interview]

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