St. Joseph’s/Candler continues rich tradition of care at the Georgia Infirmary

Sep 27, 2022

For nearly 200 years, the Georgia Infirmary has served the most vulnerable and underserved population in our communities with programs like case management (SOURCE/CCSP), primary care and Adult Day Health services

Aisha Leeks has a special connection to the Georgia Infirmary. The St. Joseph’s/Candler certified nursing assistant was born there in the 1970s when the Georgia Infirmary still operated as a hospital.

She returned 15 years ago when she decided to change careers and become a CNA. She works with the Infirmary’s Adult Day Health Center, helping take care of the dozens of daily participants.

“The patients, the clients – they are the reason I love my job,” says Leeks (pictured to the right). “There’s something about older people that I really like working with.”

The first of its kind in the nation

The Georgia Infirmary was the first hospital for African Americans built in the United States. It was chartered on Dec. 24, 1832, and was initially built on what is now known as Bethesda. Soon after opening, the board of trustees realized the need to move further into the city, says John Albright, director of Georgia Infirmary. 

  • In 1838, the Georgia Infirmary moved to its current location on Abercorn Street in the Victorian district of Savannah.
  • In 1865, the Georgia Infirmary was forced to rebuild after the Civil War and the new building’s construction was finished in 1871. The main part of this building still stands today.
  • In 1904, the Georgia Infirmary was among the first in the nation to train African-American nurses, graduating its first class in 1906. At its peak as a hospital, the facility had 89 beds and five pediatric cribs, as well as other equipment for X-rays and surgery.
  • In 1974, the Georgia Infirmary closed its doors as a hospital, however, continued to serve the community as Georgia’s first stroke rehabilitation day center.
  • In 1979, the Georgia Infirmary board of trustees created the Georgia Infirmary Non-profit Housing Corporation and built a 151-unit low-income housing facility known as Williams Court Apartments for the elderly and disabled. This facility is located directly across the street from the Georgia Infirmary main campus.   
  • In 1980, the Georgia Infirmary became the first Medicare Certified Outpatient Rehabilitation Facility in the nation. This rehab facility eventually created what is now known as the Adult Day Health Center, which was licensed in 1982.
  • In 1986, the Georgia Infirmary became affiliated with Candler Hospital and in 1997 joined Candler when the St. Joseph’s/Candler Health System was formed.
  • Also in 1997, the Georgia Infirmary team led the charge in creating and implementing the SOURCE Program, a case management program under the Elderly and Disabled Waiver Program administered by the Department of Community Health. One of only three facilities to pioneer the SOURCE program, Georgia Infirmary is the only original site that still offers SOURCE Case Management services.
  • In 2018, the Georgia Infirmary began offering services through the CCSP (Community Care Services Program). CCSP offers case management and in-home services very much like SOURCE, but has more eligibility opportunities.

As it stands today, the Georgia Infirmary is the only facility of its kind in the state of Georgia and perhaps the nation, says Albright.

“We are extremely proud of our history here at Georgia Infirmary,” Albright says. “Our team consists of dedicated, compassionate professionals who resiliently serve our community in an effort to enhance the lives of our most vulnerable.”

Read more about the Adult Day Health Center here


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