Joan Mariyampillai, MD (Retired)

Internist Takes Personalized Approach to Adult Primary Care

“Whether it’s counseling on preventive care or treating acute and chronic illness, I get a lot of satisfaction from helping my patients.”

Learning has always been a priority for Dr. Joan Mariyampillai. Having completed higher secondary education in her native Sri Lanka, she went on to study medicine in India at the University of Madras, Stanley Medical College. Her perseverance and hard work earned her a nomination by the Ministry of External Affairs of the Central Government of India to pursue a career in medicine.

Dr. Mariyampillai is an internist, a primary care physician who cares for patients who are 18 years old and older. Internists differ from family physicians in that they do not offer pediatric or gynecology services but are specially trained in adult diseases and disorders. As a primary care physician, Dr. Mariyampillai treats acute and chronic illness and helps her patients stay healthy through preventive care.

She follows guidelines for preventive screenings and recommends tests as age-appropriate. Also, patients who require genetic counseling and oncological workups are referred accordingly. “If patients have a family history, I may recommend an age-appropriate screening earlier,” she noted. “Patients are individuals, and it’s important to offer individualized care.”

Dr. Mariyampillai has lived and practiced medicine in the U.S. since 1995. She brings broad and varied experience to Vanguard, including three years of work in tropical medicine in West Africa and additional experience in occupational medicine in New Jersey. She has treated generations of families in the Verona area. Her patients say they enjoy her compassionate, caring approach and diligent follow-up.

When she’s not working, Dr. Mariyampillai enjoys traveling, reading, gardening and listening to music. She and her husband, Marcarious, have three grown children.

Peter Heit, MD

Gastroenterology Specialist Peter Heit Gets to the ‘Gut’ of the Problem

“I take an old-fashioned approach to clinical exams. We talk first in my office, and again afterward. It’s a more comfortable encounter and you learn so much more.”

From an early age, Peter Heit knew his future career. In fact, at his sixth-grade graduation, he wrote down that he was going to be a doctor. “Back then, there were not too many outlets for kids who liked the sciences,” he says. “It was research or medicine, and I knew that I wanted to take care of people.”

He received a full scholarship to attend Boston University and got accepted into medical school during his sophomore year. That allowed him to take graduate and undergraduate courses concurrently, and fit in some medical research. He ruled out the other specialties and chose gastroenterology/hepatology because the specialty featured interesting procedures and had the potential to build longstanding patient relationships.

The relationships are especially important to him. “Every visit starts with a conversation in my office,” he says. “I want to make it as comfortable as possible, to allay any concerns and to find out how I can help.” Then he examines the patient in the exam room.  Finally, they meet back in the office to discuss the findings and put together a plan. “Sometimes, we focus on self-management; other times we  recommend procedures or medication. Importantly, this is a plan that evolves over time as part of continuity of care.”

Preventive care, including colonoscopy screening, is a large part of his focus. “I help my patients get past the stigma and embarrassment of this test, and understand how powerful a colonoscopy is in helping them live longer, healthier lives.” In addition, Peter treats the full spectrum of gastrointestinal disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, abdominal pains, reflux, Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis, and stress-related gastroenterological issues. “The enteric nervous system is second only to the brain in complexity,” he says, “and so there are quite a number of potential gastrointestinal issues.”

When he’s not working, he enjoys going to the theater with his wife. He also is a skilled clock maker and has made over 100 clocks.