For the first time ever, the St. Joseph's/Candler Health System was awarded the Foster G. McGaw Prize for Excellence in Community Service. The American Hospital Association recognized the healthcare system, and also gave them a big surprise.
"The hospital was also given a check," explained Paul Hinchey, president and CEO of St. Joseph's/Candler. "The check was for $100,000. It's the largest award in the United States that you can win for something like this. Our Board of Trustees took that check and gave it to the St. Mary's Community Center in the Cuyler-Brownsville area to expand the programs off of 37th St."
After winning the award, Sister Pat Baber was like a kid at Christmas.
"We won it this year," she said. "We got it, it's ours."
Baber knows how important the prize will be for the community. She runs most of the St. Joseph's/Candler outreach programs.
"It's like winning the Academy Award," she said. "It will be shared with all of our outreach efforts. So, the African American Resource Center will get a part of it, Good Samaritans will get a part of it."
As will the St. Mary's Community Center and the St. Mary's Health Clinic in midtown Savannah. That's where Henry Wall, 34, went when he first started suffering symptoms.
"I had a droopy eyelid, muscle weakness, " he explained. "I got tired real easy, couldn't take care of myself like I'm supposed to because of the weakness in my muscles."
Wall said he tried other clinics, but was turned away because he had no insurance and wasn't on Medicaid. But when Wall walked through the doors of the St. Mary's Health Center, he said he automatically felt a difference. After running tests, doctors learned Wall had Myasthenia Gravis, a nerve and muscle disease that could have left him paralyzed.
"I had to get my thymus glands removed," said Wall. "Coming to St. Mary's helped me a lot. They made me feel special. They welcomed me with open arms. Every time I had a problem and called, they did their best to solve it, or solved it."
Now, Wall's disease is in remission but he still comes to the St. Mary's Health Center every two months for medication and a check up. Something he knows wouldn't be possible without the clinic, the St. Joseph's/Candler Health System.
"It's amazing that all the good work, all the good heart, all the good intentions, all the love, that's being sent through our community," said Baber. "It's wonderful. It's more than wonderful. It's an awesome blessing to be a part of that."
To see the criteria to win the Foster G. McGaw prize, click here.
For more information on all the outreach programs provided by the St. Joseph's Candler Health system, click here.