Ingram's: Saint Luke's physician named in Ingram's 2018 Top Doctors

October 18, 2018

Every year, Ingram's, Kansas City' Business Magazine, honors the areas top physicians across hundreds of specialties. This year’s 21 honorees bring to 249 the number of physicians recognized across almost every conceivable medical discipline and specialty. 

Saint Luke's Health System is proud that a Saint Luke's physician was entered into this year's list of Top Doctors. 

See the full list of the 21 doctors named Ingram's Top Doctors.

Jim Kelly

Yes, Jim Kelly admits when asks, he spends his days knocking people out. “But more importantly,” he says wryly, “we wake them up beautifully.” Kelly is chief of cardiac anesthesia for Saint Luke’s and a key member of the transplant team lead by the renowned heart surgeon Michael Borkon there. “We’ve worked together an awfully long time,” Kelly says. “The better part of 25 years, at least.” Attainment of such an important role surely reflects a lifelong desire to become a physician, right? Not necessarily. “Tell the truth, I was never drawn to medicine,” he confesses. “I always wanted to be a farmer.” Encouraged by his farming family to go to college first, Kelly still didn’t start on a medical pathway. “I was pre-vet, and was accepted into vet school, but I took the MCAT (the medical-entrance exam) on a dare from a frat brother.” To the surprise of no one who knows him, he did well, switched from vet school to medical school, and was on his way. But why anesthesia? “That seemed to be where the most normal people in medicine were,” he says. “They seemed to be happy and content, kind of well-balanced people.” More than one might think anesthesiologists do indeed develop patient relationships that run deeper than “count backwards from 100 for me,” but there is an intensity to it. “We are treating them at some of the most stressful times of a medical encounter,” Kelly says. “It takes a special skill to find a bond or relationship with a person that quickly and assure them you can take good care of them. You don’t often have a long-term relationship, but it’s a very intense, quick relationship.” And, at times, with repeat procedures for certain treatments, there is the opportunity to have multiple encounters. He’s done thousands of these procedures, but when a person is getting a new heart, in particular, the process never grows old. “What we do becomes part of everyday life, but few people are hoping to go to the cardiac operating room more than once,” Kelly says. “If I didn’t have to take that call, I’d be happier, but there’s nothing but excitement about it. There is nothing better than seeing a patient knowing he’s going to get a new heart.”

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