Born and raised half a world away from his adopted hometown of London, Kentucky, Aqeel Mandviwala, MD, has dedicated nearly half his life to caring for the residents of Laurel County and beyond.
For Dr. Mandviwala, the journey to practice medicine took him from his native Pakistan, where he graduated from medical school, to the United Kingdom, where he trained to become a pulmonologist. Later, he came to the U.S. and, after completing a two-year residency, joined CHI Saint Joseph Health. A pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine specialist at CHI Saint Joseph Medical Group – Pulmonology, Dr. Mandviwala has been part of the Laurel County community, where he and his wife raised their three children, since 1996.
“I’ve always received the utmost respect from the people I’ve taken care of, and that’s a wonderful feeling,” Dr. Mandviwala said. “I’m just a drop in the ocean, but I feel like I’ve made a difference in this community.”
Dr. Mandviwala’s impact was more than just a drop in the ocean during the COVID-19 pandemic, when cases were spiking and health care providers were desperately needed.
In the spring of 2020, Dr. Mandviwala was often the only pulmonologist available at Saint Joseph London to care for patients in the intensive care unit (ICU) with COVID-19. In addition to managing the sickest patients in the hospital, Dr. Mandviwala continued to see patients in the outpatient clinic.
Balancing those responsibilities was especially challenging during the pandemic’s delta variant surge last year, when Saint Joseph London had to open 12 additional ICU beds to supplement the 14 beds it already had. At one point, more than 20 patients were on ventilators. During the busiest times, Dr. Mandviwala performed the work of two pulmonologists.
“The days were long, and the biggest challenge was time,” he said. “There were so many patients in the ICU, and they needed intubation and other procedures to help them breathe.”
All Together Now
The pulmonology team at Saint Joseph London has since expanded with two more specialists to share the load with Dr. Mandviwala. His quiet devotion to patients earned him the 2021 Physician of the Year Award from CHI Saint Joseph Medical Group.
Grateful for the recognition, Dr. Mandviwala is quick to praise the ICU nurses, respiratory therapists and other providers who worked by his side, as well as fellow pulmonologists from Lexington. He also credits the flexibility of Kathryne Blair, MD, and Don Morring, MD, who transitioned from general surgery to serve as intensivists caring for ICU patients during the height of the pandemic, as well as Neil Patil, APRN, who also stepped up to help in the ICU.
“The nurses and respiratory therapists are also heroes,” Dr. Mandviwala said. “I was just a small part of the team.”
He also gives a heartfelt thank you to his wife, Shahnaz, who was “always supportive” during the toughest months of the pandemic.