Saint Joseph’s Hospital is Atlanta’s oldest hospital and the only Catholic hospital in the city. Established in 1880 by the Sisters of Mercy, Saint Joseph’s mission is to provide clinically excellent and compassionate care.
Saint Joseph’s Hospital was founded in 1880 as Atlanta Hospital by Sister Cecilia Carroll of the Religious Sisters of Mercy Order (RSM). The Catholic order, created in 1831, was established in Dublin, Ireland, by philanthropist Catherine McAuley with the mission of ministering to the poor. Carroll, along with three other nuns, moved from Savannah to Atlanta to open the hospital, which became the city’s first permanent medical facility after the Civil War (1861-65).
In 1900 Atlanta Hospital, which later became known as Saint Joseph’s Infirmary, opened its nursing school and trained more than 1,300 nurses before the school closed in 1973. The institution continued to expand during the twentieth century, moving from a small house on Baker Street to a larger facility on Courtland Street. There it became the region’s largest hospital, with an outpatient clinic, a dedicated surgical wing, and a chapel. In February 1978 the hospital dedicated its current facility in north Atlanta and renamed the institution Saint Joseph’s Hospital of Atlanta.
Saint Joseph’s was the first hospital in the Southeast to perform open-heart surgery (1957), the first to develop a comprehensive cardiac catheterization laboratory (1967), and the first to provide angioplasty as an alternative to bypass surgery (1979). As of 2006 it is one of only two adult heart transplant centers in the state and has the twelfth-largest cardiac and vascular program in the country, providing such advanced procedures as minimally invasive robotic surgery.
As a grantee hospital for the National Cancer Institute–funded Community Clinical Oncology Program, Saint Joseph’s collaborates with seven other area hospitals in clinical trials for breast, prostate, and lung cancers.
Research and Patient Care
Research using tissue engineering, cell therapy, and gene therapy is under way at Saint Joseph’s Research Institute’s (SJRI) preclinical lab and clinical facilities. SJRI has gathered scientists, industrial partners, and a collaborative network of international experts in the evolving field of translational research, a term recently coined to describe “bench-to-bedside” medicine.
Saint Joseph’s has also received national recognition for its patient care. In 2004 it received the Magnet Recognition for Nursing Excellence for the third consecutive time, one of only three hospitals in the nation to do so. The Magnet is awarded by the American Nursing Association’s Credentialing Center.
J. D. Power and Associates has recognized Saint Joseph’s as a Distinguished Hospital for Service Excellence, and HealthGrades, a national provider of health care information, has rated Saint Joseph’s “number one in Georgia and among the best in the nation” for its vascular and cardiac services, designating it a Distinguished Hospital for Clinical Excellence. In 2005 HealthGrades designated Saint Joseph’s a Distinguished Hospital for Patient Safety, one of only ten nonteaching hospitals in the country to earn the dual distinctions. Solucient, a national health care information company, named Saint Joseph’s one of the nation’s 100 Top Hospitals in 2005 and one of the 100 Top Hospitals Orthopaedic in 2000, the company’s last rating year.
Through its Mercy Care Services program Saint Joseph’s provides primary health care, education, and social services to thousands of Atlanta’s underserved population each year through two free-standing health care clinics and eight mobile satellite locations. Mercy Care also provides primary health care services to the 24/7 Gateway Homeless Services in Atlanta and operates Mercy Senior Care in Rome, providing needed services to elderly and disabled adults.
In 2005 Saint Joseph’s embarked on a five-year, $311 million expansion of its cardiac, vascular, and other medical and surgical services. The institution also announced plans to develop the Kenneth E. Thomas Center for Nursing Excellence.