DR. KIRIT PATEL
Dr. Kirit Patel, a renowned cardiologist who practices through Oakland County’s St. Joseph’s Mercy hospital, is quick to point out that the qualities required in a top-notch physician do not require ‘genius’. Rather, he shares with a humble nod, “The most important attribute for a doctor is compassion, along with a caring and compulsive personality.”
These three ‘c’s may be qualities found in doctors of all nationalities, but to Indian doctors in particular, they seem very close to the surface. “That’s in part because Indian households are extended and closely knit,” says Dr. Patel. “We Indians learn at an early age to sympathize with the ills of others. In rural India especially, where suffering is still widespread, learning to deal with health issues compassionately is almost second nature.”
The compulsion he names among a doctor’s basic requirements centers on an attention to detail, and that above all is why Patel’s stint at St. Joseph’s has been particularly rewarding. “The hospital is neither too large nor too small,” he asserts. “Every tool of our trade, every piece of equipment I require, is provided. That’s why I rarely, if ever, experience a sense of panic, even in the gravest of cases. Being in control of the situation is the hallmark of my work day, and my confidence that ultimately, I have what I need, allows me to concentrate on the patient to the fullest without worry.”
Patel, who was born in East Africa after his father decided to settle there following World War II (where the elder Patel served in the British army), returned to India for his studies. Among Indian schools of higher education, he is particularly complimentary of Manipal University, which features prominently in the ‘Our India Story’ documentary. “Raj Warrier is a first rate administrator as well as a world class physician,” says Dr. Patel with an affectionate nod. “I learned volumes from him.”
Humility runs at the forefront of Dr. Patel’s conversation, and it translates into what he refers to as the ‘Indian bedside manner’. He segues quickly and easily into praise for his partner Dr. Nishit Choksi, who are beloved throughout the St. Joseph world, among both staff and patients. “Nishit and I are peas in a pod,” he smiles. “We think alike, work alike. It gives patients a sense of security that can be as vital to their recovery as the medicine or procedures.”
Little angers him, except, as he’s quick to point out, incompetence. “I’m vocal when I find anyone on the staff who does not appear to take his or her job as seriously as it deserves. We are dealing with life and death situations every day.”
In all, Dr. Patel is a surgeon who performs on the heart, from the heart.