Physician Assistants

John Chandler, PA

John Chandler, PA, trained in the U.S. Army and finished his PA training in cardiovascular and thoracic surgery at St. Joseph’s Infirmary in Atlanta, Ga. in 1973. (The Infirmary was renamed St. Joseph’s Hospital of Atlanta in 1978.) He has been licensed in the state of Georgia since that time. Chandler was also certified in cardiopulmonary perfusion and was chief perfusionist at St. Joseph’s Infirmary/Hospital for five years.

In 1973, from its beginning, he joined Peachtree Cardiovascular & Thoracic Surgeons Group in Atlanta, serving there for 30 years. Gwinnett Medical Center is the fourth cardiac surgery program Chandler has helped launch, following his work at St. Joseph’s, Piedmont Hospital (Atlanta, Ga.) and North Georgia Medical Center (Gainesville, Ga.). Chandler is a member of the Georgia Association of Physician Assistants.


Ashley Croker, PA-C

Ashley Croker, PA-C, graduated with a Bachelors of Science degree from Piedmont College in Demorest, Ga., in 2006. She went on to obtain a Masters of Science degree in Physician Assistance Medicine from South University in Savannah, Ga., graduating in 2009. Croker is now board-certified as a physician assistant by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants.

Ashley began her career working for Peachtree Cardiovascular & Thoracic Surgeons (Atlanta, Ga.) before moving on to work for Northeast Georgia Physicians Group Cardiovascular & Thoracic Surgeons in Gainesville, Ga.

She has worked at Cardiovascular & Thoracic Surgeons-Gwinnett Medical Group since it began in 2012.


Rich Heimbecker, PA-C

Rich graduated with a Bachelors Degree in Sports Biology from Springfield College in Springfield, MA., in 2004. He then went on to graduate with a Masters of Medical Science from the Emory University Physician Assistant Program in Atlanta, GA., in 2006. Heimbecker is a board-certified Physician Assistant by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants.

Heimbecker began his career in cardiac surgery at Emory University Hospital Midtown where he worked from 2007-2010. He then moved back to Massachusetts to be with family where he continued his career for the next four years in the fields of cardiac surgery, medical intensive care/critical care medicine and general surgery.

In 2015 Heimbecker relocated back to Georgia to join the team as a Physician Assistant at the Cardiovascular & Thoracic Surgeons-Gwinnett Medical Group.


Ashley McDowell, PA-C

Ashley graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from The University of Georgia in 2006, where she also served as a cheerleader for the UGA football and basketball teams. She went on to obtain a Masters of Science degree from The University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Surgical Physician Assistant program, graduating in 2009.

McDowell is a board-certified Physician Assistant by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants. She began her career working for Saint Joseph’s Medical Group Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgeons in Atlanta, Georgia in 2010.


Ken Norris, PA-C

Ken Norris graduated with a Bachelors of Science from the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s surgical physician assistant program.

First employed by Peachtree Cardiovascular & Thoracic Surgeons in 1992, Norris routinely worked as a PA (board-certified by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants) at St. Joseph’s Hospital of Atlanta, Piedmont Hospital and Atlanta Medical Center. He then moved to Knoxville, Tennessee, where he worked with East Tennessee Cardiovascular & Thoracic Surgery Group. In 2002, he came back to Gainesville, Georgia, where he helped start the Ronnie Green Open Heart Surgery Program at Northeast Georgia Medical Center. In 2006, he moved to Nashville, Tennessee, where he worked for Vanderbilt Heart.

Norris relocated to Lawrenceville in 2012 to help start the Strickland Heart Center at Gwinnett Medical Center.

  • Cardiovascular & Thoracic Surgeons
    Gwinnett Medical Group
    631 Professional Drive, Suite 200
    Lawrenceville, GA 30046


    Office: 678-312-3500

  • Cardiovascular & Thoracic Surgeons

    Gwinnett Medical Group
    631 Professional Drive, Suite 200
    Lawrenceville, GA 30046

    Hours of Operation

    Monday-Thursday
    8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.


    Friday: 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Health & Wellness

From health tips to recipes, we’ve got everything you need to live happily and healthfully.

Join our Everyday Wellness Community

Sign up for our monthly newsletter and stay up-to-date on all things health and wellness.