Last Updated: Sep 9, 2020
Andrew Richards, MD, is a colon and rectal surgeon with UPMC Pinnacle in Harrisburg. He is the recipient of the Pennsylvania Medical Society’s Everyday Hero Award for August 2020.
For Dr. Richards, practicing medicine is a family legacy that goes back generations - His father, paternal grandfather, and great-grandfather were all physicians.
Growing up, he was immersed in the world of medicine. His father was a general surgeon and a family practitioner who owned his own practice. His mother, a registered nurse, ran the office which was attached to the family home.
Dr. Richards chose to follow in his father’s footsteps and pursue a career as a surgeon. He is a graduate of Bucknell University and Cornell University Medical College and completed his residency at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York City. He received his fellowship training in colon and rectal surgery at the Greater Baltimore Medical Center.
After his fellowship, he joined Larry Sollenberger, MD, at his practice in Harrisburg. Dr. Richards has been caring for patients in the Harrisburg region for 28 years.
He sees a variety of patients – men and women both young and old – who have a wide range of health concerns from more complicated illnesses like inflammatory bowel disease and cancer to smaller issues such as hemorrhoids.
A typical week for him involves procedures like colonoscopies, office hours several days per week, and rounds at local UPMC hospitals.
It is important for him to make sure his patients feel comfortable and that they have the chance to be involved in decision-making for their treatment.
“I try to provide explanations with user-friendly language to help them understand what is happening to them in what is often a very stressful time in their lives,” Dr. Richards says. “Sometimes a bit of humor can make all the difference,” he notes.
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He also credits his colleagues with providing excellent care. His office manager Wendy has been with him since he began practicing and is among those on his team who offer additional support for patients.
Dr. Richards and his wife Elizabeth have raised two children - daughter Emily and son Harrison. Emily is continuing the family tradition of medicine in her work as an orthopedic physician assistant.
He also views his patients as an extended family of sorts. Dr. Richards has had the good fortune to care for three generations of patients. “It makes it seem like you are part of their family,” he says.
It is clear his patients appreciate the care and attention they receive from him. Dr. Richards’ office is filled with memorabilia and small gifts that he has received from them over the years.
He enjoys being part of the lives of his patients and their families. “My greatest reward is to see a patient successfully endure treatment or surgery and then return to a happy, healthy life,” says Dr. Richards.