It's late on a Tuesday afternoon and Dr. Mansha Kahloon sits in his office at St. Claire Regional Medical Center talking softly into his digital voice recorder. Sensing a break in his busy cardiology schedule, he heads out the hospital's back entrance to the adjacent guest-residence building.
Using his key to unlock one of the first-floor apartments, he steps inside, removes his black sneakers and washes his hands in the small kitchen sink. Then Mansha walks to the middle of the empty room, faces east and bows his head to pray. The apartment isn't a living quarters at all, but rather a mosque. The hospital set aside the space in 2003 for the growing population of its Muslim doctors as well as faculty and students at nearby Morehead State University.
But while the hospital has been more than accommodating, being Muslim in Kentucky in 2017 has its challenges.
"The only problem is people don't know you, and they know [Muslims] on the TV," said Mansha. "That's the problem. Everyone here you see at the hospital, they have no problem and are very supportive and very helpful."
Born in Pakistan, Mansha came to the United States in 1996 and worked in hospitals in New York City for seven years. In 2003, he moved with his wife, Fahmida, and their five children to Lexington, Kentucky, to be closer to Fahmida's family. She hints that she sometimes feels the cultural divide but chooses to keep a positive outlook.
"Fear is not something that is good for you," she says. "I don't find any point of fearing anybody other than God. You know, what is the point? God plans everything for you, right?"
Mansha's work days are jam-packed, with the busiest ones spent in the operating room performing heart catheterizations – procedures that thread light pipes through patients' veins into their hearts. Mansha spends hours in the cath lab, often performing three to five procedures in a day. On quieter days, he is primarily in the hospital's adjacent clinic seeing patients.
Though the days can be long, the hard work is always redeemed by his knowledge of the good he is doing for his patients. The support of his family and faith provides a firm foundation.