John W. McConnell, M.D., a leader in pulmonary hypertension, brings decades of Louisville experience to Norton Pulmonary Specialists

Dr. McConnell recently joined Norton Pulmonary Specialists, but he has been a leading pulmonologist in Louisville for three decades, known for his leading work with pulmonary hypertension.

John W. McConnell, M.D., recently joined Norton Pulmonary Specialists, but he has been a leading pulmonologist in Louisville for three decades, known for his work with pulmonary hypertension.

Dr. McConnell is medical director of the Norton Healthcare Pulmonary Hypertension Program, which regularly participates in clinical trials that give patients access to the latest treatments for pulmonary hypertension.

As a pulmonologist, Dr. McConnell sees many of his patients year after year. It’s something that makes the job special for him.

“Some of the people I’ve been seeing for 20 years or more. As my grandmother would say, ‘It’s a calling,’” Dr. McConnell said.

In addition to seeing patients for sleep apnea, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pulmonary fibrosis, interstitial lung disease and other respiratory conditions, Dr. McConnell serves as the primary physician for patients undergoing lung transplants. He also spends much of his time in the intensive care unit, caring for critically ill patients.

“I’m with my patients a lot, because many of them are very sick, so I really get to know them and their families,” Dr. McConnell said.

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Solving problems and meeting nice people

Dr. McConnell grew up outside Atlanta, Georgia. When he was 14, he was expected to work — his first job was at the local hospital “washing pots and pans in the kitchen.” He then worked as an orderly, nurse’s assistant and monitor technician.

“I did a lot of things most physicians don’t do,” Dr. McConnell said.

All that time in the hospital gave him plenty of opportunity to watch doctors at work. He thought being a doctor looked pretty good.

“Every day is different. You have to think and solve problems, and you meet a lot of nice people,” Dr. McConnell said.

Dr. McConnell attended the University of Georgia in Athens and the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta. When he was unsure what area of medicine to go into, a medical school classmate persuaded Dr. McConnell to enter pulmonology. He hasn’t looked back.

Dr. McConnell entered private practice in Louisville in 1989 after completing a pulmonology fellowship at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, where he is now on the faculty as an adjunct professor of medicine.

When he’s not working, Dr. McConnell loves to go out to eat, garden, travel, and play bridge. He and his wife have two grown daughters.

Dr. McConnell remains passionate about his work.

“I really love my patients. I just have fun at work. I think it’s very interesting,” Dr. McConnell said.

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