Emory Saint Joseph's marks anniversary with tributes to Sisters of Mercy

February 15, 2015

Sr. Mary Cecilia Carroll, a hospital foundress

Atlanta's oldest hospital, Emory Saint Joseph's Hospital, is observing its 135th anniversary; and the centerpiece of its yearlong celebration is a campaign to honor the facility's founding congregation, the Sisters of Mercy.

Each month, the hospital is highlighting a different aspect of the sisters' influence on health care in Atlanta, with stories and images of sisters posted on Emory Saint Joseph's website, on its Facebook page and on its Twitter feed. The hospital also is putting up posters around campus celebrating the contributions of Sisters of Mercy from its founding to the present day.

"The Sisters of Mercy have made such a contribution to health care in Atlanta in so many ways, and so we are recognizing with gratitude those contributions," said Sr. Rosemary Smith, SC, Emory Saint Joseph's chief mission services officer.

Emory Saint Joseph's campaign began last month with a tribute to Mother Catherine McAuley, who founded the Sisters of Mercy in Dublin, Ireland, in the early 1800s. The congregation established a presence in the U.S. in 1843. In 1880, four Sisters of Mercy traveling from Savannah, Ga., arrived in Atlanta with just 50 cents in hand to start the city's first post-Civil War medical facility, which they called Atlanta Hospital. (It was renamed Saint Joseph's Infirmary in the early 1900s; and then Saint Joseph's Hospital of Atlanta in 1978.)

Twenty years after the hospital's establishment, the facility opened a nursing school that would remain in operation for 73 years.


Director of Mission Integration Sr. Valentina Sheridan, RSM, with a patient at Emory Saint Joseph's Hospital.

Over several decades, the hospital outgrew its location and moved to its current site in north Atlanta in 1978. Saint Joseph's, which had been part of a now-defunct system called Eastern Mercy Health System, joined Catholic Health East in 1997. Catholic Health East consolidated with Livonia, Mich.-based Trinity Health in 2013 and the merged system was later named Trinity Health.

Three years ago, Saint Joseph's entered into a joint operating agreement with the not-for-profit, Atlanta-based Emory Healthcare that gave Emory 51 percent ownership and Saint Joseph's and Catholic Health East (now Trinity Health) 49 percent ownership. Under the agreement, Emory Saint Joseph's remains a Catholic hospital; and it retains an affiliation with Trinity Health. Emory Saint Joseph's is sponsored by Catholic Health Ministries, which is Trinity Health's public juridic person.

At the time the joint operating agreement was finalized, Emory Saint Joseph's leaders said the Sisters of Mercy's influence was instrumental in ensuring that the hospital could continue in its ministry under the new ownership structure. Emory Saint Joseph's is the only Catholic hospital in Atlanta, a city with a small population of Catholics.

 

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