History of the Largest Health System in Southeast Georgia, St. Joseph's/Candler

St. Joseph's/Candler is rich in history and heritage. Its anchor institutions, St. Joseph's Hospital and Candler Hospital, are two of the oldest continuously operating hospitals in the nation. As such, both have been a part of the Savannah landscape and culture for a combined history of more than 350 years. 

In addition, the Georgia Infirmary and Mary Telfair Women's Hospital -both historic in their own right-bring that service record to nearly 650 cumulative years.

In 1997, the two legendary hospitals and their various entities developed a joint operating agreement, creating the largest health system in Southeast Georgia and the South Carolina Low Country.

St. Joseph’s Hospital History

St. Joseph's Hospital began in 1875 when the Sisters of Mercy took over the operations of the Forest City Marine Hospital in what is now the historic district. Since its inception, Savannahians have trusted the care, compassion and medical expertise that have become synonymous with the St. Joseph's name. It Old St. Joesph'sis a 330-bed, general acute care facility situated on Mercy Boulevard on Savannah's South side and is home to some of the most breakthrough medical technology and innovations. Specialty services at St. Joseph's include The Heart Hospital, The Institute for Advanced Bone & Joint Surgery and the Institute of Neurosciences, each offering unsurpassed space-age technology and expert clinical care.


1875-1876 - Responding to the plight of sick seamen, the Sisters of Mercy are contracted to operate the Forest City Marine Hospital. Better facilities and more space soon prompted a move to downtown Savannah. The hospital was renamed St. Joseph's Infirmary.

1901 - The hospital expanded (the Annex); the name became St. Joseph's Hospital.

1913 - The Flannery Memorial Wing opened.

1950s - St. John's Hall (the city's first psychiatric unit) and an obstetrical clinic for families with limited incomes opened.

1960-1970 - The Sisters of Mercy moved the hospital from its downtown location to the city's spacious South side, an area with high growth potential. The seven-story structure, situated on 28 acres, was dedicated on August 15, 1970.

1977 - Neuroscience opened its Oto-Neurology department, now known as the Center for Oto-Neurology.

1981-1990 - St. Joseph's opened the city's first Ambulatory Care Center.

1986 - Hospital surgeons won the right to perform open heart surgery at St. Joseph's.

1997 - St. Joseph's Hospital entered into a joint operating agreement with Candler Hospital and together formed St. Joseph's/Candler, the region's largest and most experienced health care provider.

Candler Hospital History

Candler Hospital is Georgia's first hospital (first chartered in 1804) and the second oldest continuously operating hospital in the United States. The beginnings of Candler Hospital's ministry of healing are closely associated with the history of medicine in the earliest days of the colony of Georgia. Old Candler HospitalLocated in Savannah's Midtown and affiliated with the Methodist Church, Candler has been long recognized as offering the finest in primary care, outpatient services, general surgery and women's and children's services. The 384-bed Candler is home to the Mary Telfair Women's Hospital and the Nancy N. and J.C Lewis Cancer & Research Pavilion, both renowned medical facilities offering some of the most advanced patient services in the country and has been a vital part of the Savannah community for more than eight generations.


1804-1872 - Georgia Colony's first hospital was founded for sick seamen in 1804. In 1808, it became incorporated and was named the Savannah Poor House and Hospital. The hospital was initially located in a private home on Joachin Street. In 1819, the hospital erected its first building. In 1872, the name was changed to Savannah Hospital.

1872-1888 - Savannah Hospital was headquarters for the Savannah Medical School and home to the city's first nursing school.

1930 - Savannah Hospital was acquired by the Georgia Hospital Board of the Methodist Episcopal Church South and renamed in honor of the Bishop, Warren A. Candler.

1960 - Candler Hospital joined forces with the longest operating women's hospital in the United States, the Telfair Hospital for Females. Created in 1886 through the estate of Mary Telfair, the hospital became Candler's obstetrical unit.

1980 - Candler Hospital moved to its current location on Reynolds Street. Believed to be the second-oldest general hospital in continuous operation in the United States, Candler Hospital has serviced more than nine generations of Savannah-area families.

1997 - Candler Hospital entered into a joint operating agreement with St. Joseph's Hospital and together formed St. Joseph's/Candler, the region's largest and most experienced healthcare provider.

Contact Us

For more information on St. Joseph's/Candler, please contact:

Central Referral Office

(912) 819-3360
(800) 622-6877 (Georgia and South Carolina) 

  • St. Joseph's Hospital Campus: 11705 Mercy Blvd., Savannah, GA 31419, (p) 912-819-4100
  • Candler Hospital Campus: 5353 Reynolds St., Savannah, GA 31405, (p) 912-819-6000
  • Find us on:

St.Joseph's Hospital Campus: 912-819-4100

Candler Hospital Campus: 912-819-6000