When Marie Kellett was in college, she went on a spring break trip to southern Virginia. She met a man who’s source of running water was a stream that went through his house. His chair was a wheelbarrow. And his medication sat in a bucket on the table.
“People were living in places that should have been condemned,” she said. And physicians were more than an hour’s drive away.
It was that trip that led Kellett to the decision that she would be a doctor. It might have been bouncing around in her head, as her dad is a dentist and her brother is also in family medicine. (In fact, the brother and sister went to the same college, medical school and did their residency in the same town. But we’ll come back to that later.)
Dr. Kellett joined Family First Health this month and will lead our Columbia practice in Lancaster County. While Columbia is not the Appalachia, Kellett said there’s a definite need. She worked there for three years before she was married – you might recognize her maiden name VandenBosche.
Kellett wasn’t always sure she wanted to be in family medicine. She actually somewhat followed her brother’s footsteps. Her school didn’t really encourage family medicine, but her brother did go that route. Her brother did his residency in Lancaster, and many people encouraged her to just check it out. So Kellett did a month’s rotation there, giving them the benefit of the doubt. She left on a Friday in October 1996.
Two days later, she was hit by a drunk driver.
She would lose her leg as a result of the accident. She had more than 40 units of blood transfused. She underwent 12 surgeries. While many med school students use their two months time off for vacation and interviews, Dr. Kellett would spend hers in the ICU for a month and then in rehabilitation. After the accident, she received an outpouring of love and concern from those she worked with during her Lancaster rotation. Turns out people were right to recommend it to her. She interviewed for her residency while still in a wheelchair.
“I’m a better doctor because I was a patient,” Dr. Kellett said, adding she came out of med school in a different place than her classmates. She was resolved to be a great physician because she saw some not so great ones while she was a patient.
The rest is history.
Well, the rest is actually residency, three years in Columbia and Wrightsville, getting married, and then 13 years in York. How did she end up at Family First Health? A friend – Dr. Debra Bell – told her to take a look. Dr. Kellett was excited about the opportunity for a few reasons. She sees the smaller office a chance to impact more lives and the community more directly. Plus if she sees something that needs change, she’s in a better place to affect that change. She loves that people are happy to come to work every day. She loves our ideals and mission, and she’s really excited to start the Columbia practice from scratch.
When she’s not working, Dr. Kellett keeps pretty busy. Her husband, Tom, works at the Catholic Harvest Food Pantry and works mornings (she works afternoons). They have five boys. (Even their dog is a boy, she joked.) The boys range in age from 1.5 to 10 years old. The oldest, Manuel, they adopted from Guatemala. They’re very active in their church St. Joseph’s Catholic Church. The boys go to school there. She loves to travel. She did two mission trips to Haiti – though they travel less now with the kids. She loves far-away locations like Fiji and Thailand. She’s the coach of her son’s 10 and under soccer team, which she’s done since they were an 8 and under team.
She also takes part in York County’s Victim Impact Panel for those going through the ARD program for first-time DUI offenders. Four to five times a year, she speaks to the groups about how drunk driving changed her life, hoping to inspire them to make whatever changes they need to stay on track.