Meet our co-workers

Once a week, we like to highlight one of our many wonderful co-workers. Find out more about their role in the health system and what they love about working for St. Joseph's/Candler.

Meet Shandrena Famble, team lead for the customer experience specialists for St. Joseph’s/Candler laboratory services. Shandrena has worked here 31 years mostly in the lab but also in a couple of our primary care offices. She is responsible for the customer experience specialists, or lab assistants, that work out of our primary care offices, outpatient draw stations and client service department. She makes sure schedules are up to date and someone is staffed at all locations. She also has daily reports to check and double check to ensure doctors are receiving lab results so they can take care of their patients.

“I think about our six brush strokes, and I can relate to each one. (Compassion, quality, integrity, courtesy, accountability and teamwork) When we’re doing interviews, and we ask people to choose one they relate to, the person that really gets my attention is the one that says, ‘I relate to all’ because I do as well. You need all of them in order to be successful. I love the longevity I’ve had with St. Joseph’s/Candler. I’m very proud to say, ‘In May, I’ll be here 32 years.’ I just want to keep on keeping on until retirement. I really do enjoy it. Even on the stressful days, it’s still fulfilling because at the end of the day I know I’m taking care of our patients; my team is taking care of our patients.”

“I enjoy working with the coworkers. I seem to have a pretty good relationship with most of them. I have the gift of gab, I guess you could say. I enjoy working with them and seeing them grow. That’s the biggest thing for me. I love to see someone come in new, start off at the bottom – which I hate using that term – and to grow as I did. I started out as a lab assistant and made it up to management. To me, it’s just heartwarming and fulfilling to see that in someone else.”

Meet Sherry Andrews, business operations coordinator for environmental services and laundry for the health system. Sherry has worked here 22 years, and is responsible for ordering all the supplies and equipment required of the environmental services and laundry teams. She orders between $20,000 to $30,000 worth of supplies just in a week’s time to ensure these two departments can do their very important jobs. Sherry’s role also involves lots of paperwork and making sure the director and assistant directors have what they need to do their jobs.

“I love St. Joseph’s/Candler. I love what they do, what they have done for me. I am a God-fearing woman, and what better place to work than at a place that is “Rooted in God’s love.” I see, I don’t only hear, but I see what they do out in the community. There’s a lot of companies who do not keep their employees informed. St. Joseph’s/Candler communicates, and I love that. Every Friday, we have a message from our President & CEO letting us know what’s going on. You can’t do better than that.”

“I enjoy the people here. We all work well together. They depend on me for a lot of things, and I try to help them as best as I can. It’s really all about working with the people.”

Meet Lorie Gonzalez, an advanced patient care technician in Pooler outpatient surgery and St. Joseph’s Hospital outpatient surgery. Lorie has worked here for four years and has 36 years experience as a APCT. She is one of the first faces patients see on the day of their surgery. She makes sure they get checked in, asks them some questions, checks vitals and helps prepare them for surgery. Lorie also makes sure charts and rooms are ready for the next day and helps keep supplies and equipment stocked. She can assist in the operating room if needed and assists with discharging the patient once they are ready to go home.

“I got into healthcare to help people, not treat them like a number and move from patient to patient. We all have the same values here that the patient is first. If they don’t have the care they need, how are they going to get better? You just need to talk to people. Some older people may not have anyone to talk to, so if they come here and want to talk, what’s five minutes? Nobody asked to be sick. I also ask myself how I’d want to be treated or my mother or grandmother treated. It doesn’t cost anything to be nice.”

“I really love the people I work with. We’re like a family here. You have some stress that’s associated with any job, but it’s not overwhelming because everybody helps out. It makes it easier and patients are better taken care of because there’s no animosity between coworkers. The flow works well. Both places have a really good team, and I’ve enjoyed working at both of them.”

Meet Madearian Watkins, or you most likely know him as Dee. Dee has worked here for 23 years in the receiving department at Candler Hospital. Each day, between 500 and 700 packages are delivered to Candler Hospital. (It was even higher at the heights of the COVID-19 pandemic.) All our personal protective equipment, such as gloves and masks, come in through receiving, as well as supplies that different departments throughout the hospital order. Dee and the team unload supplies off the loading dock, process and track everything and make sure each package is delivered to the right area and accounted for.

“I love my job. Every day that I wake up and come here is a blessing. To come here and work with the same people for years and years makes it even better. Everybody gets along well. It’s like we’re family. Who doesn’t want to come see their family every day? I’m proud to work here. A lot has changed in the 23 years I’ve worked here. It just keeps getting better and better. They take good care of us here.”

Meet Kimberly Cook, registered vascular sonographer with SJ/C Physician Network – Vascular Specialists. Kimberly helped bring ultrasound into the practice with the help of the physicians more than two years ago. This makes it really convenient for the patients to have their ultrasound and be right there to see their doctor. Kimberly performs all the ultrasounds with a fellow sonographer for imaging before or following procedures, as well as monitoring chronic diseases.

“I really love the people I work with. I have a lot of respect for the surgeons that work here with their experience and bed-side manner. I really like that I was able to be challenged in new ways in this role. I was able to be a part of making decisions – how the room is set up, how the schedule is set, every detail, they really let me be involved. I also like that I am able to hone in and specialize my skills. Being able to focus and specialize just in vascular has been really good. I really love that.”

“I was born at Candler. I’m familiar with the reputation they have. My mom graduated nursing school and took a job at Candler, and she’s still there now, like 35 years later. My first job (at Candler Imaging Center), it was like, ‘Hey mom!’ and seeing her that was really cool. I’ve made my own way and worked at different places and that’s how you find what fits and this is what fits me. I love it here.”

Meet Anna Mills, clinic assistant at the Center for Oto-Neurology. She is responsible for handling referrals, scheduling patients, confirming insurance, reminding patients of their upcoming appointments and getting their charts ready. She also orders supplies and helps with any other necessary paperwork. Anna works with patients of both the audiologists and outpatient speech therapist in our Oto-Neurology department. She’s worked here for five years.

“I love working in this department because it’s not a big department. It’s like a family. We all get along, and we all try to make sure everybody is happy and having a good day. Everyone here is easy to work with and fun to work with. I just love working for this department.”

“Working with St. Joseph’s/Candler at my previous job and then now, it’s just a great organization. They love their people. It’s a family-oriented job and that’s what I’m used to and that’s what I love about it. Everybody is personable. Everybody is family and helpful in any way they can be. You don’t have a negative day, at least I don’t. I don’t consider this a job because I love coming to work.”

Meet Elliot Brookins, production supervisor in the dietary department at Candler Hospital. Elliot has worked here for 20 years. All the meals you see in the hospital – whether in the cafeteria, at our SmartBytes location, in patient rooms or in the doctor’s lounge – Elliot is responsible for making sure everything is prepared and goes out correctly. We serve breakfast, lunch and dinner so that’s a lot of meals that Elliot and the dietary team prepare.

“I love this job really because of the people. It’s all about the people I work with in dietary but also here at Candler. Everybody is so pleasant. I really enjoy myself when I’m at work. It’s not all about the money; it’s the people. I also appreciate the whole value system of St. Joseph’s/Candler, especially being a faith-based organization. They really live out their mission with how they work with the community and how they work with their employees here. It’s just a great place to work with great people.”

Meet Emma Wilson, team leader in coding in the Health Information Management (HIM) department. Emma has worked here for 40 years – all at Candler in the HIM department. As team leader, she is responsible for assigning work to her fellow coders and assists with inpatient accounts. Hospital coding is an alpha and numeric code that represents individual conditions/illnesses or procedures. Emma also manages any contract coders we may need.

“I really enjoy the coding part of my job. I’ve done it for so long now, but there’s still always something to learn because things can change. I also like the people I work with. We have a really good group of folks in our office, and we work well together as a team. All the people here are so nice. When I was in college at Armstrong Atlantic State University in their health information management program, we had a chance to do training at all the area hospitals. I knew back then I wanted to work at Candler. I have always loved Candler, and it’s really because of the people.”

Meet Ashley DeWitt, diagnostic medical sonographer, who has worked in the imaging departments at St. Joseph’s Hospital and now Pooler for nearly 15 years. Ashely operates the ultrasound machine, taking images of all parts of the body – from the arteries in your neck to the veins and arteries in your legs. She works with patients of all ages and no two days are the same.

“I enjoy the interaction with patients. The age range is so different so it’s a different interaction literally about every 20 minutes, which it’s so fun to have that personal connection with your patient. I also like making patients feel comfortable. I guess it’s the Southern way. You want someone to feel welcome here, just like you would at your own home. Some ultrasound exams can be stressful and some can be awkward. I take it as a compliment when they say, ‘I was dreading this but you made it not so awkward.’ It’s nice to have someone leave happy when they come in nervous.”

“I actually grew up in Pooler so it’s amazing to me that there’s a medical facility here now and that all of the people on this side of town have a convenient place to come for so many different services. It’s been fun to see folks from the community and now we’re taking care of them. I also like how St. Joseph’s/Candler makes you feel as an employee. You feel like you are a part of a family. I’ve always compared it to how it feels like in a small town, where you know everyone and everyone knows you and you all look out for each other, and we all help each other out. That’s one of the many reasons I’ve enjoyed being here for 15 years. It’s a great team here.”

Meet Angela Grant, manager of the SJ/C SOURCE Program within the Georgia Infirmary. Angela has worked at the Georgia Infirmary for 27 years. SOURCE helps provide services and resources to the qualified elderly and disabled so they can stay at home within their community. As the manager of the Savannah SOURCE office, Angela oversees and assists case managers that help people in nine counties. (SOURCE covers a total of 27 counties in Coastal Georgia with assistance from our Baxley office.) They work as a team to do whatever they can to provide the best service for SOURCE members.

“I love working here. I love the Georgia Infirmary. When I came in the door 27 years ago, I immediately felt the family atmosphere. I told my mom on my lunch break, ‘I think I’m going to retire from here.’ I still feel that way to this day. It’s a nice family environment. Everybody cares for our members, and we’re out there trying to do what we can do to just help and be that support for the members in our community, especially the elderly, disabled and challenged members.”

“I am all about community. I am all about giving back. St. Joseph’s/Candler and I align up perfectly because we have the same goals and values – accountability, making sure that we do what we say we are going to do. If you are providing a service, then you make sure you provide that service to the best of your abilities. I like that we are a family and a faith-based system. The two go hand-in-hand.”

Meet Jason Boyd, health educator and exercise physiologist with the Disease Management Program. Jason has worked for SJ/C for 24 years. He currently trains people through our weight management program and members of the Wellness Center. He also does lectures for the Wellness Center and other groups. In his health educator role, Jason helps with screenings and risk management. We screen people who work for local businesses, including our local fire fighters and police officers. These screenings can help identify high blood pressure or elevated cholesterol or blood sugar, and then Jason can help navigate them to the proper program or physician to manage these conditions.

“It’s one of the things that I really like about my job is that I get to do so many different things, and I work with so many different people and groups from seniors to the young, new recruit fire fighters that are just 19 years old and from people trying to lose weight to people trying to prevent heart attacks or improve their diabetes. I get to do so many different things and that’s one of the cool things that I like about my job. It’s important to me to teach people how to modify their diet or how to start an exercise program or manage their stress or teach them more about high cholesterol or blood pressure or diabetes. Being able to educate is my favorite thing because I’m an educator at heart. I get to basically do what I was born to do.”

“I like the fact that St. Joseph’s/Candler puts an emphasis on prevention and wellness. Part of our mission statement is, ‘We treat illness and promote wellness for all people.’ I like the fact that is in our mission statement, promote wellness. One of the things that’s always been important to me throughout my career is the prevention aspect that if we can keep people healthy and lower their risk factors for chronic disease then we can improve people’s lives. I also like that the health system offers a Wellness Center and all these different programs. A lot of health systems don’t. That’s one thing I really appreciate about our health system is the fact that we’ve put a strong emphasis on keeping our wellness program and keeping this place for our employees.”

Meet Monica Rodgers, clerical coordinator at the St. Joseph’s/Candler Primary Care Islands practice, where she has worked for the last 11 years. Monica helps check patients in and out of their appointments, collects copays, answers the phone and schedules patient appointments. She also trains new receptionists and goes above and beyond to provide patients with top quality customer service, whether it’s getting a lab order or getting paperwork signed.

“I am kind of a gopher – go here, go there, help with this. I just want to help wherever I can. I enjoy coming to work every day to help assist our patients, showing compassion and a listening heart with a smile. It’s a close community here because so many people live on the Islands, but we also have patients that come all the way from Augusta and Waycross. They come for three-month follow-ups, four-month follow-ups or come back in two weeks so you really establish a relationship with them.”

“We’re like a big family here. We all work together, especially if the patient has a problem. If it’s something clinical that I may not be able to help with, then I can get the information from them and then talk to the nurse or the doctor to find a solution for that patient. It’s all teamwork to help that one patient. It might take five of us, but we’re all going to work together as a team. It’s really a pleasure to come to work and be a part of the Islands practice.”

“I am thankful to work for St. Joseph’s/Candler because we share the same goals: showing compassion, community, kindness and teamwork working together toward helping our patients. I want our patients to leave our office happy after their appointment, knowing that their medical care is in the best hands.”

Meet Andy Williams, manager of respiratory therapy and pulmonary diagnostics at St. Joseph’s Hospital. The Savannah native has worked for St. Joseph’s/Candler for 40 years (starting at St. Joseph’s Hospital before the merger). He is responsible for the daily operations of the respiratory and pulmonary diagnostic departments, making sure both the staff and patients are happy. He will also pitch in and help care for patients, especially on nights if staffing is low.

“I love the family environment that I work in. I’m comfortable taking care of people here. As Dorothy says in the Wizard of Oz, ‘There’s no place like home.’ I like being able to take care of patients in the way that I’m allowed to take care of them here. There’s autonomy and trust here that we are allowed to do the job we are trained to do.”

“I’m also a pastor. One of my callings is dealing with people and helping people. I like being able to take care of people. The values of the health system are the values in my life, in addition to some other values. I run into a lot of people that know I’m a pastor. I’ve had patients that have asked me to pray for them, pray with them. If I worked at other places, I wouldn’t be able to do that. Because I work in a faith-based organization, I’m able to minister to folks in this capacity also.”

Meet Sr. Donna Coward, RSM, spirituality coordinator for the health system under our Mission Services department. She has served in this role for more than two years, but she’s been with the health system for 23 years. Sr. Donna helped start St. Mary’s Community Center with fellow Sister of Mercy, Sr. Pat Baber. She spent the majority of her time here as a chaplain in pastoral care before being called to her current position. She visits coworkers at both hospitals, as well as our off-site facilities. She is here for you when you need to pray or just someone to talk to. She emails us regular prayers and monthly letters and always has a smile on her face.

“We have wonderful, wonderful coworkers. When I get to work, I’m energized by the people I am around. I love our coworkers. I do see this as a service. Honestly, I feel like any of the positions in the healthcare system are a service, are a ministry. I feel that way about education too. It’s in a different way than say you are a carpenter or farmer, because what you are called to is not just the skills you have, it’s the teamwork part of it, it’s the compassion part of it. You have to feel this is a calling; that this is what God is asking you to do.”

“The blessing that I have is that I’m from a family of very mixed religions. We always had respect for each other’s faith tradition. When you are trained in pastoral care, it’s about you as a patient and your family. It’s not about me. It is a service. You’re not in it to see how many awards you can win. You’re in it because it’s a calling and you really do care – and that applies to every one of our coworkers.”

Meet Benae Thompson, radiologic technologist II in the main radiology department at Candler Hospital. Benae has worked for the health system for six years and is currently working weekends, performing X-ray exams for inpatients and emergency room patients. You may recognize her for the years she spent at the LCRP as the lung screening navigator. Benae is going back to school to become a nurse but wanted to stay on board at St. Joseph’s/Candler even as she goes to school.

“I just love people. I love to do my part in making sure they are OK, especially helping people who aren’t sure what’s going on or haven’t had an X-ray before or have misconceptions about X-rays. I love being able to help them and educate them that this shouldn’t hurt, and we follow all standard precautions and proper positioning techniques.”

“I also like how St. Joseph’s/Candler takes care of their employees and the community. They do a lot of things in the community to promote healthcare and wellness. I just like the way I’m treated here. Mossrale is a big thing for me; ethics are a big thing for me. You could work other places and feel a totally different vibe, like just the next person up or just another number. Here, as an employee and as a patient, because I’ve been a patient here before, I just like the way I’m treated.”

Meet Lois Washington, an environmental technician at St. Joseph’s Hospital. She mostly works on the fourth floor but is willing to help out wherever she is needed. Lois has worked here for three and a half years and makes sure patient rooms and areas are clean and as germ free as possible. Lois is a vital part of the healing process and our St. Joseph’s/Candler family.

“The thing I enjoy the most is meeting the different patients and being able to talk to them and hopefully bring peace and hope to them because being in a hospital is not always the most pleasant thing. One of the things they tell us in our daily huddles is to smile and show happiness to the patients. Sometimes they don’t know what’s going to happen or what’s going to transpire while they are here, so just being someone that comes into their room with a friendly smile helps a whole lot.”

“I also like working for a faith-based institute. I am a Christian. The greatest hope that we can have is that we can go to God and pray to him. Working here, I can share that with patients if they wish. It brings me peace because the time we are living in, a lot of people don’t want to discuss religion or faith, so it’s wonderful to work in an environment where you are free to share your faith while you are working.”

Meet Lisa Miller, a nurse practitioner at St. Mary’s Health Center, one of two free clinics St. Joseph’s/Candler provides for those in need of healthcare. Lisa has worked there for a year. She provides primary care treatment, such as annual exams and chronic disease management, to patients. She’ll also refer them to specialists when needed and follow up on their care to make sure next steps are taken.

“I personally am in health care because I believe that healthcare is a right and not a privilege. Anything I can do with my degree to help make it more equable here in Savannah so that people that don’t have access to insurance can still get high quality health care. Specifically, at St. Mary’s Health Center, the people are amazing. My coworkers are amazing. The people that have been working here for a long time – they know everything about the system and how it works. They were super, super welcoming, and we all work well as a team. I also really love the patients. The patients are great. I’ve met really great people through here. The community is awesome.”

Meet Lennard Young, who is a CNA and PCT on the night shift in the Candler Hospital Emergency Department. Lennard has worked here for 16 years – all in the ED and on night shift. He helps with patient care as far as taking vital signs and helping make sure they get meals. He’ll also assist with transport when a patient is moved to a room. Lennard helps keep the rooms clean when a patient leaves, and helps with ED staff with any other needs they may have.

“My motto is to treat people how you want to be treated, and it will go a long way. That’s why I put my patients first. We all do. We are all here to help patients get better. I love my job. I love my work, and I love the people. I feel my coworkers know they can depend on me. I know I’m on the quiet side, but I come to work and do my job. I also love working nights. I would never go back to days.”

Meet Ashley Smith, a catering associate at St. Joseph’s Hospital. Ashley has worked for the health system for seven years. She helps make sure patients get all their appropriate meals and supplements. She’ll work with dietitians to make sure each patients’ nutritional needs are met, and she goes above and beyond to help alleviate the healing process so our patients can get home to their loved ones.

“What I love the most about working here is meeting and speaking to the patients. I get to meet people from different cultures, people from different walks of life. Diversity is a big thing for me. I’ve always liked working in a diverse environment, and working in a hospital brings that out. I love people, and that’s mainly the reason I like working here. And I have a thing for working in hospitality, and I get to do both.”

Meet Erica Merritt, a clinical pharmacy specialist in the Candler Hospital emergency department. She’s worked for the health system for 15 years. As a pharmacist in the ED, Erica helps recommend doses for critical care patients and helps draw up medications. She advises nurses and doctors on any medication questions they may have, as well as offers consults to patients who have questions about their home medications or prescriptions.

“I love that no day is the same. I love being a part of the team in the emergency department. I really enjoy working with physicians, nurses, radiology, respiratory – everybody that is a part of this team. I love the hands-on aspect of my job; the direct patient care that goes into my job. I find that very rewarding and challenging. I appreciate the opportunity that was given to me to start the ER pharmacist position because we were early in the game as far as having pharmacists in the ED as part of a community health system, so I appreciate the forward-thinking nature of our health system. It’s really been the people that keep me here. I do love the team aspect. I feel we are like family. I can go anywhere in the hospital and run into somebody that I’ve known for years. It’s not too small but it’s not too big that I don’t know the people I work with regardless of the department they work in.”

Meet Vallenicia Spruell, a certified nurse aide on the sub-acute and rehab units at both St. Joseph’s Hospital and Candler Hospital.  Vallenicia is a new face to the Health System, working here now for four months. She is responsible for checking vital signs and blood sugar levels and meeting other patient care needs whether it’s assistance to the bathroom or just a listening ear.

“I was in the corporate world for many years but then I had to take care of mom and dad and that inspired me to get my CNA license and pursue this career. I love the fact that I get to work with patients to make them feel better and give them inspiration when I walk into the room with a smile on my face. I greet them and meet their needs to help them feel better. It’s the idea of seeing them one way and then coming out to be better. They are sick and feeling down when you first see them, but then you see them transform into a whole different person when they are better.”

“I’m a spiritual person and am involved in the church all the time. Now, I’m working at a place where I can share my spirituality with others. It’s great. You don’t get that experience at other places. That really lured me to work here. I can give a person love, let them know God loves them. Hearing the daily prayer over the overhead speaker every morning really inspires me when I come to work. It’s like I’m home.”

Meet Dorothy Perkins, or you may know her as Lee. Lee has worked for the Health System for 37 years. She is currently chief dispatcher for patient transport at Candler Hospital. She is responsible for making sure patients are moved from one area of the hospital to another and her team helps with patient arrival and departure.

“We are likely the first person patients see and the last person they see. I think our job, even though we are moving patients most of the time, it’s really about customer service; just making sure the person who you are transporting feels good and hope they enjoyed their stay and everything went well.”

“I’ve been in transport for 25 of the 37 years I’ve worked here. I started out in sterile processing and then went to material services, but I came back to transport. I enjoy it because when I worked in the OR, I stayed in one location. I didn’t even know the rest of the hospital existed. Now, there are so many places and so many coworkers I get to work with.”

Meet Mark Sanders, guest services representative in the communications department at St. Joseph’s Hospital. Mark answers calls from outside the hospital, as well as calls from patients staying at our facility. You may also hear his voice on the overhead system speaker. Mark has worked here for seven years.

“The phone rings nonstop, from the time I hit the door until the time I leave. I can honestly say you have to have a heart for people to do this job because we get calls about death, about life, a lot of different topics. It’s a very versatile position. A lot of times it almost feels like therapy because you have to really listen to people’s stories and hear what they have to say and then conclude where you have to get them to where they need to be.”

“I can say what I love about my job is being able to help people. Even though we are in the background, we play such a major role. You even get to develop a relationship from callers on the outside because they become familiar with your voice and your customer service. I’ve had situations where someone will ask to speak to Mark because I’ve spoken with them before. I love to establish that relationship with callers, whether they are calling from the inside or outside and whether it’s a patient, doctor or nurse, anyone.”

Meet Davida Young, team lead cook at the St. Joseph’s Hospital cafeteria. Davida prepares food for both cafeteria guests and patients. You’ll occasionally see her at a catering event helping out as well. Davida has worked for the Health System for 15 years.

“When I started working here, I said I was just going to be here a little while, but I love to cook. I love what I do. I love the people here. It was supposed to be just part time for two or three years, but look at me now. I’ve been here 15 years, going on 16, and I love what I do. I love my coworkers I work with. It’s a great place to work.”

Meet Margaret Wallace, a patient care technician at St. Joseph’s Hospital. She’s worked for the Health System for 34 years. As a PCT, Margaret helps with EKGs, blood draws, blood pressure monitoring and other patient care needs – both physically and emotionally.  

“I love my job. Some people look at PCT as just a PCT, but PCT is really a rewarding position because going into that patient’s room every day my goal is to bring a smile to that patient’s face. A lot of times they don’t see family; sometimes we are the only family that they see. We get a chance to cry with them, laugh with them. It takes a lot of compassion and love. You are dealing with all kinds of patients. But the goal is the same – to provide their needs, to be there for them, to support them and to show them love. It’s very rewarding. I love it. I’ve been doing this for years so you know I got to love it.”


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