No insurance? You’ll want to take advantage of this.

Operation Empower Health – Greater Savannah to provide no-cost healthcare services for thousands in the region starting May 10

Almost on a daily basis, Sr. Pat Baber meets people who sometimes feel forgotten or helpless because they don’t have the resources to get the healthcare they need.

St. Joseph’s/Candler’s outreach initiatives, such as St. Mary’s Community Center where Sr. Pat is the director, work daily to help the uninsured and underinsured in some of the area’s poorest communities.

Starting May 10, St. Joseph’s/Candler is taking it one step further by partnering with Georgia Southern in support of the U.S. Military providing no-cost healthcare for those in need in our region.

“Troops from every branch of the military are coming to Savannah, and they are coming to give us the gift of their service,” says Sr. Pat. “It’s a huge gift that is wrapped in all kinds of ribbons and paper that is being presented to the city of Savannah and surrounding areas. We hope you are a part of the unwrapping.”

Operation Empower Health – Greater Savannah

Savannah was selected as the flagship site for the Department of Defense’s 2018 Innovative Readiness Training (IRT) program after St. Joseph’s/Candler and Georgia Southern submitted a proposal to host it. IRT is the military’s training opportunity that provides real-life deployment training and readiness for military personnel while addressing public and civil-society needs. 

Lt. Col. Andy Magnet
Lt. Col. Andrew Magnet, Mission Office In Charge for Operation Empower Health – Greater Savannah and Chief of Medical Staff for the 165th Airlift Wing Medical Group

Called Operation Empower Health – Greater Savannah, the training will have troops from every branch of the military in town to provide medical, dental, vision and veterinary services for more than 6,000 people. The services will be provided for those 18-years-old and older at four locations in Chatham County (Savannah Civic Center, Georgia Southern’s Armstrong Campus, Savannah State University and Garden City Recreational Department) from May 10-18.

More than 500 military personnel are expected in town to provide those healthcare services, says Lt. Col. Andrew Magnet, Mission Office In Charge for Operation Empower Health – Greater Savannah and Chief of Medical Staff for the 165th Airlift Wing Medical Group. They are doctors, dentists, optometrist and veterinarians who also continue to serve in the military.

“We have private practices. We work in the civilian world,” Lt. Col. Magnet says. “This is our way of using taxpayer dollars to give back to the taxpayers. It is our goal to take care of our own.”

The services offered through Operation Empower Health – Greater Savannah include:

  • Medical
    • Physical exams
    • Sports exams
    • Patient education
  • Dental
    • Extractions
    • Fillings
  • Vision
    • Eye exams
    • Prescriptions
    • Fabrication of glasses
  • Veterinary services
    • Spay/neuter (only at Civic Center and Pet Fix Savannah and not available the 11, 12, 13 or 19; appointments are full but you can be added to a wait list by calling 912-354-6265)
    • General exams
    • Rabies vaccinations

No proof of income, residency or photo ID is required for services.

“Anyone can come. If you drive up in your Mercedes and want to be seen, you will be seen,” says Lt. Col. Magnet. “Anyone can come, but it’s certainly going to be a great help to those that don’t have insurance or those that may have medical insurance but they don’t have dental or vision.”

Lt. Col. Magnet recommends coming early to take advantage of these services. Past IRT medical missions saw lines forming as early as 3 a.m., he says. Operation Empower Health – Greater Savannah is from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day during May 10-18. The Civic Center is expected to be the busiest site, so Lt. Col. Magnet also recommends visiting one of the other three locations for a chance at shorter lines.

Making a lifelong impact

Part of St. Joseph’s/Candler’s responsibility is getting the word out about Operation Empower Health – Greater Savannah to recruit patients for these services. Sr. Pat encourages everyone to spread the word to make this the best IRT yet. If you’d like to volunteer to hand out flyers or with any of a variety of other tasks, please fill out this form now

“If you are willing to let your good heart be seen in Savannah, come on out and help us,” Sr. Pat says. “And, if you are one of the ones who need to be seen, come on out because this is all for you.”

Additionally, it is our responsibility to continue caring for those who receive services. A four-tiered referral system has been created to make sure that happens. Sr. Pat explains:

  1. Emergencies – Ambulances will be on standby at each site if there’s an emergency situation. For example, if someone’s blood sugar or blood pressure is too high, they may be sent directly to a hospital for care.
  2. Two-week follow-up – Some conditions treated on site may require a follow-up within a couple of weeks, such as someone who has a tooth pulled or someone placed on medication to treat a condition. For those with no insurance, we can recommend a location for follow-up such as St. Mary’s Health Center or Good Samaritan Clinic.
  3. Finding a Medical Home – For patients who have no regular physician, staff will be on hand to help. For example, if someone is on Medicaid, we will work with them to find a provider close to them that is taking new patients. Or, for those uninsured, we can work with St. Mary’s Health Center, Good Samaritan Clinic, J.C. Lewis Primary Health Care or Curtis V. Cooper Primary Health Care to make sure they have a place they can receive care.
  4. Specialty care follow-up – A team also will be in place to make sure those recommended for more specialty care are able to receive it. For example, someone who comes in for an eye exam may be found to have cataracts or glaucoma and need additional services. This team will help find a location so specialty care is received.

“We don’t want this to be a one-and-done course of treatment,” Sr. Pat says. “It is our goal that this mission leads to better care for our community because hopefully it plugs some holes and people get to where they need to be in the future.”

For more information about Operation Empower Health – Greater Savannah, visit our website or call 912-819-5300. For questions specifically about veterinary services or to schedule an appointment for spay/neuter, call 912-354-6265.

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

Candler Hospital Campus: 912-819-6000