Case Studies

Mike Craig – St. Joseph’s/Candler

St. Joseph’s/Candler facilities leader practices passion and practicality

If nothing else, it’s been a change of pace for Mike Craig. For nearly 20 years, he played crucial roles in facilities management at Chicago’s Rush University Medical Center. From his beginnings as a contracted foreman in the electronic shop, he rose through the ranks and became director of facility management.

However, Craig says he wanted to return to a more hands-on role guiding facilities management in health care—to get back to leading facilities teams more directly—and getting away from Chicago winters appealed to him and his wife.

So, in July 2022, Craig joined St. Joseph’s/Candler in Savannah, Georgia, a nonprofit health care system anchored by two hospitals that have served the area for a combined 367 years.

Chatting with Blueprint in December 2022, Craig was still evaluating the facilities and how to operate them more efficiently and sustainably. He’d already prepared for the potential arrival of two hurricanes and was adjusting to the new climate. For instance, he was running cooling and heating valves on the air handlers year-round because of the high humidity in Savannah, something he never would have done in Chicago, he says.

“Facilities management in health care is a career people don’t look at—it goes behind the scenes,” Craig says. “However, facilities management has a direct impact on the patient and the quality of care, so you have a passion for helping people.”

Centuries of care

St. Joseph’s/Candler was formed in 1997 through a joint operating agreement by two of Savannah’s oldest hospitals. Chartered in 1804, Candler is the oldest hospital in Georgia and the second-oldest continuously operating hospital in the U.S. Candler has 384 beds and is home to the Mary Telfair Women’s Hospital and the Nancy N. and J.C Lewis Cancer & Research Pavilion.

St Joseph’s was founded in 1875 when the Catholic Sisters of Mercy was contracted to operate the Forest City Marine Hospital. It has 330 beds and is home to The Heart Hospital, The Institute for Advanced Bone and Joint Surgery and the Institute for Neurosciences.

“I want to add direction to the team and help save costs that can go to patient care,” Craig says. “I want us to be more proactive with preventive maintenance and get the right parts that can last longer.”

Craig leads a team of about 60 people, including seven biomed technicians tasked with maintaining everything connected to patient care, from stretchers and beds to heart monitors, IV pumps and lab equipment—more than 11,000 pieces used in 33 locations on the hospital campuses.

His team also consists of 38 people working in plant operations—maintaining systems including HVAC. There are eight people who tend to St. Joseph’s/Candler’s combined 100 acres of grounds. His support staff includes a life safety officer who conducts about 65 fire drills annually and an emergency management officer who oversees a dozen annual drills in areas such as mass causality, utility outages and incident command preparedness.

In the future, Craig foresees improving the HVAC controls to react with the changes in humidity, installing occupancy sensors and setback controls in unoccupied areas.

More immediately, Craig’s addressing sustainability and appearance with some products he’s used throughout his career. For example, he’s applying Aeroseal sealant to the HVAC ductwork to block leaks and reduce energy waste. He’s also using Belbien vinyl cladding to spruce up areas such as nursing stations. It doesn’t promote energy sustainability, but it eliminates the need to replace cabinets and counters and the cost savings can be applied to patient care, he says.

Leading in the background

A Missouri native, Craig joined the Navy in 1990 after attending college for a year. As an electronic technician, he led a crew of four that installed, tested and aligned 26 high-frequency transmitters.

He left military service in 1996 and joined Bio-Imaging Research Inc. as an X-ray gantry technician, then joined Access Electronics as a production supervisor in 1999. While at Access Electronics, Craig helped organize and streamline the company’s production lines, which increased efficiency by 20 percent and saved $500,000 annually.

In 2001, he joined Espo Engineering Corp and was assigned as a contract foreman to what was then called Presbyterian St. Luke’s Medical Center. He was hired by the hospital seven months later.

As electronic foreman from 2001 to 2005, Craig was responsible for maintaining portable electronic equipment that was not used for patient care. He led a team of eight technicians and developed more than 50 preventive maintenance plans for equipment, as well as a manual for shop operations.

In 2005, Craig was named electric and electronic manager for Rush University Medical Center (renamed from St. Luke’s in 2003). He was tasked with maintaining the electrical distribution equipment for the 23-building campus, including nurse call systems, two-way radios, the overhead page system, security CCTV and access control systems—even kitchen equipment.

Craig was named assistant director of MCE, which stands for managed care entity, in 2014 and the director of facilities in 2018. While at Rush, he earned his bachelor’s degree in electronic management from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale and his master’s degree in organizational leadership from Colorado State University Global.

When the opportunity to direct facilities management at the St. Joseph’s/Candler campuses arose, he was ready to relocate and take on new challenges.

“I’d never been to Savannah, but we love the environment and atmosphere,” he says. “I get to use my experience to make this role my own. I have an excellent team and I’m eager to make an impact and grow the team, too.”

View this feature in the Blueprint Vol. II 2023 Edition here.

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