Serving the Lowcountry and Coastal Empire of Georgia and South Carolina.
When Dr. Nizar S. Eskandar arrived in the United States from his native Syria in February 1995, he had $2,000 in his pocket and he did not speak English but he was determined to make himself a success in what he called “the best country in the world.”
Dr. Eskandar, who has headed SouthCoast Health’s nephrology department since he joined the practice in 2007, said he wanted to emigrate to the United States from the time he was in middle school.
“My first preference was to come to the United States because it is the land of opportunity — no doubt,” Dr. Eskandar said. “I did it. I lived it. I came with only an education and hard work and I made it.”
Upon receiving his doctor of medicine degree from Damascus University School of Medicine in Syria, his first obstacle — after receiving a visa from the U.S. State Department to enter The United States — was passing an equivalency exam for foreign doctors. By his own admission, he knew no English whatsoever.
He took the first portion of the written exam three months after he arrived and passed it. He registered for the second portion two months later and he passed that, as well. While at first he failed English test, he was given the option of taking the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), which he passed in October and received his Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates.
Dr. Eskandar’s plan was to study both nephrology (the branch of medicine that deals with the study of and diseases affecting the kidneys) and critical care. That meant that he had to do two separate two-year programs. His combination of being board-certified in both nephrology and critical care makes him unique.
“I like the two fields,” Dr. Eskandar said. “The majority of the critical care cases are pulmonary critical care cases (dealing with the lungs). The complexity of nephrology always amazed me and how many things need to be discovered.”
Early in 1996 after passing his exams, Dr. Eskandar found a vacancy to start his residency at Providence Hospital in Detroit. After one year, he transferred to Wayne State University’s program in internal medicine at Detroit Medical Center, where he completed his final two years. He then did the first year of his Fellowship in critical care at the University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, N.Y.
In order to obtain his green card so that he could begin the legal immigration process, he had to work for 5 years in what the U.S. government considers an underserved area in terms of access to healthcare. That is what originally brought him to the Coastal Empire, as he practiced in Liberty County, which is home to SouthCoast’s Health office in Hinesville.
Following that end of that stay, Dr. Eskandar returned to Rochester so that he could complete his second year in critical care, which allowed him to become board-certified in that specialty. From there, he spent two years performing a Fellowship in Nephrology at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.
At last, he was able to return to Savannah, where he wanted to settle and establish himself and that is when he joined SouthCoast Health.
SouthCoast’s nephrology department is one of the practice’s busiest, which, unfortunately, has its roots in Georgia’s statewide public health issues with diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association, 1.12 million Georgians, or 14.2 percent of the population, suffers from the disease and nearly 2.6 million Georgians have prediabetes (high glucose levels in their blood). Complications from diabetes — kidney failure (of which diabetes is a leading cause) — is one of the principal conditions that Dr. Eskandar treats.
Dr. Eskandar said it is important to reach patients who are poor and have difficulty with transportation issues by having medical professionals like himself come closer to where patients need them, especially in rural areas.
As demand for nephrology services has grown, Dr. Garrett White joined SouthCoast to help serve more patients outside of SouthCoast’s main footprint in Savannah. Dr. Eskandar believes it is important to “help capture more people and get many people under the medical care umbrella of the healthcare system.”
In his personal life, Dr. Eskandar is married to Margarita, who was born in Moscow. Her father is a Syrian-born physician and her mother is Russian. Dr. Eskandar and his wife began dating while he was in medical school in Syria.
“Like any adventurous young guy who doesn’t know if he’s going to make it across the pond on the other side of the world, I told her I would keep in touch but I didn’t know what was going to happen,” he said. “We stayed in touch and when I got into my residency program and my future first steps were almost secured, I intensified my contact and we got married.” They are blessed with two children, Nicholas and Grace.
While Muslims represent a majority of the people who live in Syria, Dr. Eskandar is a Christian — in fact, he said his surname is the Turkish word for Alexander, meaning that his family on his father’s side was of Greek descent many generations ago before coming under the dominion of the Ottoman Empire. His parents still live in the Damascus area, despite the civil war that rages on. He has a sister who lives in Dubai and a brother who lives part-time in Lebanon and part-time in Syria.
In many ways, he is thankful to be practicing in “the best country in the world.”
Edgar Field of Savannah is a patient of Dr. Eskandar’s whom Dr. Eskandar began treating for ANCA vasculitis, a life-threatening autoimmune disease, when Field was 70 years old.
“I would say of all the doctors —and I’ve dealt with quite a few — I would say Eskandar is outstanding,” Field said. Very professional. Very detailed and a wonderful communicator. All of these things have added up to a great experience with him.”
I think Dr. Eskandar is the very best of what Southcoast has to offer. He reminds me of the way Dr.s used to be, giving you their undivided attention. Richard Roth used to be just like that too, he too was the best.
Dr eskandar was very knowledgeable, professional, and personable!
Dr. Eskandar is an awesome doctor. He extremely knowledgeable and smart.
Dr. Eskandar is such a great doctor and always takes the time to give such great care to his patients. His staff is always so friendly and helpful as well.
My first visit and I was impressed with how I was asked if they could help me as soon as I walked up to the desk. Everyone was so nice and friendly. I will recommend this office to my family and friends.
Dr Eskander is one of the most compassionate, knowledgeable, and caring doctor Ive ever encountered in my 71 years!!! He is a very valuable asset to SouthCoast
Always professional, courteous and the doctor is thorough and encouraging!
Appointment was on time, Dr. took plenty of time to answer my questions did not act rushed to get me out.
Dr. Eskandar and his staff provide professional care and are very attentive to you during office visits.
EVERYONE from the front desk staff (I LOVE the order of whom youre seeing GREAT CONCEPT!), The area for blood draw & urine(needs more space) but the staff EXCELLENT!! The young lady that escorted me ti the Drs ofc GREAT PERSONALITY & PROFESSIONLISM(I had my ADHD super talkative Grandson with me I didnt want to get on the scale, she understood & we spoke in codes lol) how wonderful was she!! The DR whewww it brings tears to my eyes as I think & type about Dr. Eskandar! Ive NEVER had this issue b4 he has just made me feel like its ok he felt my leg, said what it was, said were going ti take care of all of that. Ill admit I was afraid but he made me feel soo much better. I havent even shared this with my family. I KNOW the Lord sends us Angels & Ive got oneI look forward to a GREAT FUTURE & YES ID REFER THIS OFFICE/STAFF & DOCTOR!!!!! Id do FREE commercials!!!
Very caring doctor. Explains things well and takes care of facilitating procedures or tests that need to be done.
In honor of National Kidney Month, SouthCoast nephrologist, Dr. Nizar Eskandar spoke to WTOC about kidney disease prevention and provided tips to keep your kidneys healthy.SouthCoast Health Nephrologist, Dr. Nizar Eskandar Shares Tips to Prevent Kidney Disease on WTOC
In honor of National Kidney Health, our nephrologists are sharing tips to improve your kidney health and awareness. Learn about kidney health and disease from our experts.Kidney Health Tips from SouthCoast Health’s Nephrology Department