Archbishop Blesses New St. Mary’s Good Samaritan Hospital

The Lake Oconee Boomers Team

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With some 300 people participating in a formal ceremony of blessing, the Most Rev. Wilton D. Gregory, Archbishop of Atlanta, blessed the new St. Mary’s Good Samaritan Hospital on Tuesday, dedicating it to God and the healing mission of Jesus Christ.

“Today marks a special occasion as we seek continued blessing upon a new work being formed for our ministry,” said Good Samaritan Hospital President Montez Carter in his welcoming remarks. “We are honored to spend this moment with you as we gather together to give thanks for God’s bountiful blessings on this great new facility. Today, like every day, is truly a great day to be a good Samaritan.”

The new critical access hospital, located at 5401 Lake Oconee Parkway, will open Nov. 25, replacing the current facility on Siloam Road that was built in 1949. The new hospital, a $40 million investment in the health of the greater Greene County community, is twice the size of the current building. It features state-of-the-art facilities and services, including a 24/7 emergency department, private rooms, three surgical suites, inpatient and outpatient care areas, two rehabilitation gyms, and a swing bed program.

In addition, an ongoing capital campaign is bringing sophisticated technology and services to the hospital that are rarely found outside of major metropolitan areas. For example, an ultra-fast 64-slice CT scanner is being installed for emergency stroke and cardiac diagnostics, and a telemetry system has been integrated into the entire hospital, allowing nurses to remotely monitor patients’ vital signs at all times.

“‘For this is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it,’” said St. Mary’s Health Care System President and CEO Don McKenna, quoting Scripture. “If you recall, only 15 months ago I said those same words as we did our groundbreaking.  If you consider what has been accomplished in only 15 months, it has been an incredible road. I would like to thank all of you for the hard work you have done. The journey has just started.”

Speaking next on behalf of St. Mary’s religious sponsors, the Sisters of Mercy, Sister Ray Maria McNamara said the new hospital continues the mission of the Sisters of Mercy to create a bridge between those who need care and those who provide it.

“This facility establishes for many years to come the ability to continue the mission of being a compassionate healing presence in your community, committed to the sacredness of human life, and the dignity of each person served,” she said. “Yet we know that the facility is only the tool that will carry on your mission.  It is the people of St. Mary’s Good Samaritan – the staff, the physicians, and the volunteers – who bring that mission alive for each person who will come through its doors.”

Archbishop Gregory reinforced that sentiment in prayer, asking God, “By the grace of your Holy Spirit, make this place a house of blessing and a center of love, where physicians practice the art of healing wisely, where nurses and aides serve the sick with care, where the faithful come to visit Christ in the person of their sisters and brothers.”

At the heart of the ceremony was a reading from the Gospel according to Luke recounting the story of the good Samaritan. In this parable, Jesus instructs his followers to love their neighbors as themselves. One follower asks him, “Who is my neighbor?”. In response, Jesus tells of a man who was attacked by robbers and left half-dead in a ditch.Two well-respected men pass him by, but a third, a Samaritan, stops to help.

“This hospital stands as a great testimony to the goodness of the people of this community, to the faith of those whose vision made it possible,” the Archbishop concluded. “The question that must always be uppermost in our hearts and minds every time we enter this facility is the question that Jesus asked then and asks now: Who is your neighbor?”

Following the prayers, the Archbishop walked though the new building, blessing each place of care, from the lobby atrium to the emergency department, surgical suites, imaging center and inpatient rooms. While he walked through the hospital, the choir of Christ our King and Savior Catholic Church sang hymns for those assembled under the tent.

Afterwards, hospital staff took participants on tours of the new building, showing not only spaces that are ready to open on Nov. 25, but areas that have been included for future growth.

(Click each photo to enlarge.)