Dr. Nisha Gandhi of St. Mary Comprehensive Cardiology Consultants and a heart failure expert at St. Mary Medical Center, greets a patient in her Langhorne, Bucks County office. (Photo by Sarah Webb)

St. Mary Medical Center’s physicians come from varied backgrounds, but all have the same sense of commitment to the hospital’s mission of serving the poor, providing excellent care and acting with justice, according to Gary Edwards, vice president of mission integration.

Two doctors who show how diversity and mission dovetail in the work of the hospital are Dr. Nisha Gandhi of St. Mary Comprehensive Cardiology Consultants, in the St. Clare Medical Building on the Langhorne campus of St. Mary’s, and Dr. Lester Ruppersberger, a retired specialist in obstetrics/gynecology who served on the St. Mary staff for most of his 37 years in practice.

Gandhi is a cardiologist with a sub-specialty in advanced heart failure and cardiac transplantation and is the director of the St. Mary Heart Failure Program.

In her practice she treats the most seriously ill, including patients with pre- and post-operative heart transplants. She also sees patients with atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat), a common condition among older people which if left untreated can lead to heart failure, heart attack, or stroke.

(Learn more about St. Mary Medical Center’s pastoral care of patients.)

A-fib’s cause is unknown and usually affects older people, Gandhi said.

“It is not deadly. It’s not life-threatening but reducing the risk of complications can be accomplished through changes in lifestyle, diet and exercise,” she said.

Dr. Nisha Gandhi examines a patient, and says her advice can help patients “achieve their best health so that they are able to accomplish their chosen life goals.”

Gandhi’s commitment to her patients involves the St. Mary Mission and her own professional standards. Whatever their condition, her focus is on respect of her patients and improving their quality of life.

“As a physician, it is my job to provide recommendations and advice on ways a person can achieve their best health so that they are able to accomplish their chosen life goals,” Gandhi said.

Ruppersberger and his wife Betty attend daily Mass. He could be considered St. Mary Medical Center’s poster physician for his dedication to natural family planning — he gave up sterilizations “that were part of my training” after being confronted by a priest, he said.

Dr. Lester Ruppersberger

“I never saw any conflict with faith and science, or faith and reason,” he said. He is modest enough to realize that his gift of healing comes from God, he said.

“We physicians are not the ones doing the healing,” Ruppersberger said.

The longtime physician said he was never tired after a day’s work or on an emergency call, but always energized by his patients. Some of them, he said, were surprised but grateful when he offered to pray with them.

“We came to love our patients, treated them in mind, body and spirit,” Ruppersberger said. “I called it holy-istic medicine.”