COLUMBIA — Providence Hospitals will soon employ the father-and-son surgeon duo of Dr. Edward M. Leppard Jr. and Dr. W. McIver Leppard, who hail from Chesterfield.
They are the son and grandson of the late Sen. Edward McIver and Ginny Leppard. Joining the staff in August, W. McIver Leppard will be the third Providence cardiac surgeon son operating at Providence.
When looking back at how the hospital has changed from when Dr. Edward ‘Mac’ Leppard started 35 years ago, he says “Health care in general has changed, but Providence has always had a different kind of feel. This place is about taking care of patients with the best quality and the best service. And we haven’t lost that.”
Perhaps that’s why he’s happy that his son’s career has led back to the place he long called home.
The younger W. McIver (‘Mc-EEV-er,’ as his father calls him) agrees that Providence has played a major part in his life.
“I guess since 1984, when I was 4 years old and we moved to Columbia, my family has been involved with Providence,” said McIver, with words that ring in the same Southern sophistication as his father’s. “I grew up volunteering, cleaning ORs and instruments here.”
Though his official Providence start date is in August, McIver has been spending his weekends performing general surgery there on-call. He was unable to attend a first meeting for an interview because he was called into service, so hospital officials rescheduled for shortly after the procedure.
The young surgeon emerged fresh-faced and well-dressed as if coming straight from church. Like his father, he arrived in a jacket and tie.
In fact, they arrived in the same tie, completely unplanned, patterned with palmetto trees and Carolina crescents; Mac’s in blue and McIver’s in red. After Dad fixed his son’s tie, the son fixed his father’s lapel.
Dr. Mac Leppard knew he wanted to be a heart surgeon in his second year of general surgery. He also knew he wanted to practice in his native state of South Carolina.
“At that time there weren’t many programs for heart surgery. There was Charleston, Columbia and Greenville, that’s it,” Dr. Mac said of his search more than three decades ago. “The group here was growing and expanding, and, at that time and to this day, Providence had the busiest heart surgery program in the state, per hospital. That was attractive.”
His son expected to become a heart surgeon, too, when he set off for the Medical University of South Carolina, but in his third year of general surgery residency, he opted instead to pursue a focus on plastic and reconstructive surgery.
“He knew the hours,” his father said with a hearty laugh about the switch.
“I think I was just smarter,” the son joked in a playful exchange. It was one of many during the interview.
Dr. McIver will be working with Dr. Rubin and Dr. Craft at Providence Surgical Associates on Bernardin Avenue by the Downtown Hospital. While he will continue to perform general surgery, his addition of plastic surgery will make Providence Surgical Associates the only practice in Columbia to provide both general and plastic surgery in one location. This will benefit patients whose medical procedures require reconstruction, such a breast reconstruction after a mastectomy.
“To have the opportunity to come back to Columbia where I grew up, and to work near my dad, was very appealing,” said McIver, “Working with Dr. Craft and Dr. Rubin, I realized that the staff here is phenomenal, and the patients here are great. It seemed like a perfect fit.”
“We’re certainly happy to have him here,” said Dr. Mac. “I think the future’s bright for the hospital and the physicians practicing here.”
The future was certainly bright for McIver at the time of this interview. Just 10 days later, his wife gave birth to their second child, a baby girl weighing 8 pounds, 8 ounces, born at East Cooper Hospital in Mount Pleasant.
When asked if he thought his new daughter would work at Providence, he beamed, “That would be great. She could continue the family tradition.”
She’s already continuing one. Her name is Cora McIver Leppard.
Providence Hospitals, a ministry of the Sisters of Charity Health System, bills itself as the leading provider of cardiovascular and orthopedic services in the Midlands.
Providence is composed of two hospitals, 13 physician practices, a network of rehabilitation centers, two sleep centers, a school of cardiac diagnostics and is an accredited chest pain center. In total, Providence employs more than 2,000 staffers.