Remembering Dr. Michael Kelly, Pioneer Surgeon and Founding Ortho Chair
October 12, 2022
With deep regret and sadness I must inform you of the loss of a colleague, a consummate professional, and a dear friend to all of us.
Michael A. Kelly, M.D., founding chair of the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at the Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine passed away after a long and valiant battle with prostate cancer.
Michael was here at the School’s beginnings - he played a critical role in establishing the Hackensack Meridian Health network. He was always a voice of reason; always expressing strong and constructive ideas as the school came together. He was an incredible mentor to our students and was bursting with pride when we placed a student in one of the most competitive orthopedics residencies in our first national match.
He was a pioneer in total knee replacement who was a founding member of Insall Scott Kelly Institute in New York. He was on the medical staff of Hackensack University Medical Center since 2002 and was named Chairman of Orthopedic Surgery and Sports Medicine in 2005.
Over his prestigious career, Michael held many pivotal positions: he served as president of the American Knee Society; he was head team physician for the New Jersey Nets basketball team; he was named Orthopedist of the Year by the New Jersey Arthritis Foundation; and he received two Lifetime Achievement awards for academic contributions to the advancement of orthopedic surgery at the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgery.
Michael received his medical degree from Georgetown University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C. He completed a surgical internship and residency in general surgery at St. Vincent’s Hospital and Medical Center in New York City, and an orthopedic surgery residency at the New York Orthopedics Hospital at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center. He was chief resident and junior Annie C. Kane Fellow in orthopedic surgery at Columbia-Presbyterian and a fellow in knee surgery at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City under Dr. John Insall.
He lectured nationally and internationally and published extensively, including co-editing the textbook Surgery of the Knee 2nd Edition. Under his leadership, the total joint service at Hackensack University Medical Center has become one of the premier programs in New Jersey. In recent years, he focused much of his efforts on the opioid epidemic through lectures and publications. He was influential in educating physicians and leaders about combating the opioid addiction problem by minimizing the exposure to patients, either by reducing the number of prescriptions, or prescribing opioid alternatives to manage pain.
Through his work, he eased suffering, prevented much needless pain, and improved the lives of patients both in his care - and those far outside his operating room.
Beyond his illustrious career, Michael made it a priority to spend time with his loving family. Throughout his long health battle, he most valued the quality time spent with his beloved wife Sarah, his two children, Michael and Alexa, and his numerous friends. This was a man who truly understood the value of the people around him.
I have been honored to work alongside him in several roles over several decades, and to have the honor of being one of his close friends. I already miss everything about him and I feel the vacuum of his absence. It is uncommon to know a man who was so universally beloved.
Let’s keep Michael and the Kelly family in our thoughts today, as we honor a great person, healer and leader.
Jeffrey Boscamp, MD,Interim Dean and Professor of Pediatrics