Saint Mary's Healthcare System
Saint Mary's is a private, non-profit health care system operated
without any tax or financial support from the city, the county or the Church.
It is operated under the auspices of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart
The hospital was organized by two Athens physicians, Dr. H. M. Fullilove and
Dr. J. P. Proctor. With the demise of both doctors the hospital had been
inherited by their widows, who had difficulty in operating it, so it had closed
in 1935. Father Barr, the pastor of Saint Joseph's Catholic Church, at the
request of parishioners, began negotiations to purchase the hospital from Mrs.
Fullilove. On October 14, 1937, he reported to Bishop O'Hara that she had
agreed to sell the hospital for $30,000 cash and a $10,000 promissory note.
Bishop O'Hara then invited the Missionary Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart
of Jesus to come to Athens to assume administration of the new hospital. Upon
their arrival, they were met at the train station by Father Barr and a
committee of parishioners who brought them to the rectory where the ladies of
the parish gave them breakfast. The women of Saint Joseph's had also equipped
and stocked the kitchen of the hospital convent with appropriate food and
When the renovation of the hospital was completed, it was dedicated by
Bishop O'Hara on Sunday, July 10, 1938. The ceremony was held on the front lawn
of the hospital, which was then located on Milledge Avenue. It was one of the
first times that large numbers of Athenians had participated in a Catholic
In order to assist the sisters in their work of caring for the sick of the
Athens area, the women of Saint Joseph's organized the Saint Mary's Hospital
Auxiliary on April 27, 1939. Mrs. T. H. McHatton was elected the first