For Kirthi Jetty, MD, Medicine is a Family Affair
For Adena newcomer Dr. Kirthi Jetty, her path to a career in medicine may have been a bit clearer than for most.
“As the child of two physicians, I was blessed with early exposure to the field of medicine,” the Adena Family Medicine-Greenfield physician said. “It was one of those things I always knew I wanted to do because I was able to see the impact my parents had on their patients and the community as a whole and I just thought that would be such a unique and awesome career to go into to have that impact on my community. They really are the ones that inspired me to pursue medicine.”
Calling Kirthi an Adena newcomer is actually misleading. She’s been around the health system since she was a child, the daughter of longtime Chillicothe pediatricians Dr. Sathish Jetty and Dr. Lois Jetty, who earlier this year joined her parents professionally within the Adena family. Another of the couple’s children, Vybhav, is also a physician who has completed his fellowship in cardiology and is doing a subspecialty fellowship in electrophysiology in Boston. Lois said he has been expressing an interest in coming back home to Chillicothe and joining Adena as well.
The Jetty family’s journey to Adena finds its roots in India, where the influence of relatives also played a role in Sathish and Lois selecting their career paths.
“My dad said, ‘Hey, you need to become a doctor, that’s a good profession,’” Sathish said. “My uncle used to have a clinic like a private practice and we used to go and help open the shop, clean the place up and things like that. I never thought I’d become a doctor because it is really, really hard to get into medical school in India. I worked hard and was able to get in and here I am.”
“When I was younger in high school, my thoughts were about becoming an engineer,” Lois added. “My dad was the one who changed my mind. He helped me see that you can do a lot more things being a doctor and making a difference in people’s lives. That’s what inspired me to become a doctor. Although getting into medical school is tough because the competition is extremely high, I left it to the Lord and if it is His will that I should become a doctor, then He will help me to get in.”
Both succeeded in getting in, and that is where their paths crossed when they were each serving in leadership positions within the medical school.
While pediatrics became something Lois initially developed a love for in medical school, her pediatrics rotation almost pushed her off that path.
“That rotation actually scared me because back in India, we saw so many deaths of the kids with so much sickness there,” she said. “I just didn’t have the heart to go into that and see the suffering children, so I changed to OB/GYN. Then, we were in England for a few years and there I started doing OB/GYN. When we came to the U.S., Sathish had started his residency in pediatrics and we had our son with us who was a toddler at the time. Seeing him grow and how he was doing and listening to everything Sathish would talk about involving his work in pediatrics, I realized there is so much more to pediatrics than just caring for sick children and so many ways we can make a difference in the lives of children while they are growing up and guiding them, and that helped me get back into pediatrics. I’m glad that God guided me to make that change and I absolutely love it now.”
Their arrival in the United States 32 years ago was the result of Sathish landing a job in a residency program in Toledo, the same program Lois would also join. Close to the completion of residency, Sathish was able to get a fellowship in gastroenterology at the Mayo Clinic, but due to a condition of an exchange program, he was required to work in an area that was considered underserved. In 1994, Chillicothe qualified as one such area. So, while Lois finished her residency in Toledo, Sathish headed south and worked for the Family HealthCare Clinic while also practicing at the hospital caring for children on the pediatrics floor and in the nursery.
During that time, he brought Lois and the children to Chillicothe to get a sense of the local area and they thought it may be a good fit.
“Originally, our thought had been to go back to Toledo to do fellowships and further training, but once we came here and started working, we liked it here so we ended up staying,” Sathish said. “We felt that in this relatively small town, we would be able to make a difference.”
Lois joined what was then Smith & Fleisher Pediatrics in 1997 and Sathish, once his initial contract ended with Family HealthCare, joined Adena Medical Group in 1998.
At that time, the differences between practicing in India and the United States were more apparent than they are now.
“When we were there, everything depended on our clinical acumen and assessing our patients based on clinical exams and history – we didn’t have the luxury of writing down so many labs and x-rays and MRIs for every problem -- so we had to make the diagnosis and treat without actually being confirmed by the tests as such,” Lois said. “When we came here, one of the big things we saw is the luxury of having testing and labs and things like that so we could confirm our diagnosis for everything we do.”
Kirthi was just five months old when Sathish started working in Chillicothe and two years old when the family moved to Chillicothe. While developing her interest in practicing medicine at a relatively early age, like many teenagers she wasn’t sure she wanted to settle at home to do it.
“I think if you would have asked me as a teenager where I wanted to end up, I would have never said Chillicothe,” she recalled. “I always wanted to get away and go somewhere else, I think that’s similar for a lot of kids who grow up in a small town. I went to medical school in West Virginia, and I think being a little farther away from home and then having the opportunity to do some rotations at home, I saw how neat this community is and how awesome it would be to give back to the community that had given me so much and to be able to practice medicine here and be closer to family.”
The fact that her husband, Matthew Shelton, is a Greenfield native and is principal of his alma mater, McClain High School, has also contributed to a desire to build a career at Adena, something her patients will appreciate.
“I think sometimes patients get nervous when they are seeing a new doctor wondering if you’re going to be here or if you’re going to leave,” she said. “I try to tell a lot of them I’m here to stay in Greenfield. I’ve seen my parents and so many of my physician mentors start their career and have wonderful, long careers and take care of their patients for many years, and that’s what I want for myself.”
Despite having seen, as she put it, all the great stuff about pediatrics in her parents’ practice growing up, she decided instead to embark on a career in family medicine.
“With family medicine, I can take care of my patients from the day they’re born through becoming an elderly patient, and that’s what I want is to have a long career in Greenfield with Adena taking care of my patients for years to come.”
Her parents, who said they feel blessed to have been a part of Adena’s growth from a small community hospital to a health system with a presence in nine counties, couldn’t be happier that she feels that way.
“As a parent, it felt so good when she came home after having her physical done at the Occupational Health office and when Dr. Hill went in to see her, he said, ‘Welcome to Adena’ and then immediately corrected himself and said, ‘Welcome home.’” Lois said. “I think it’s just such a good feeling as a parent to have your child come back to where you’re working and also everyone welcoming her the way they did. As parents, it’s really heartwarming to us to see that she will be enjoying the work in the same health system where we work.”
Fast Facts: The Jetty Family
- CARING FOR KIDS: “I enjoy the kids,” Sathish said. “A lot of times, you can tell they are sick and you can tell the minute they are better and start jumping around and playing and doing what they’re supposed to do, compared to an adult.” Lois agreed: “If you can make a difference in just one child’s life on any given day, it’s worth it. I recently was going through some papers and came across a card from a 7-year-old with a big heart drawn on it. This was a child who came in with an abscess on the buttock I had taken care of, and when she came back, she had a nice picture with a big heart drawing and when I opened it, she had said, ‘Thank you, Dr. Jetty, for fixing my butt’ and she had a big Band Aid over it, and it was just so cute. It’s just the kids’ way of telling you thanks, and that’s what makes your day so very special every single day.”
- OUTDOOR ADVENTURES: When not in their offices, the Jettys can often be found somewhere in the outdoors golfing, skiing, hiking or traveling. Both Kirthi and her brother learned to ski at very early ages and “are so good” according to their father.
- PACK AND PLAY: “There’s so much to see in this world, so it’s nice to spend time traveling, and it is quality family time when we travel together to see different places and the world that God has created,” Lois said. Both parents felt it was important to expose their children to different parts of the world and to see everything this country has to offer. They have visited 42 of the 50 states thus far, with a goal of making it to all 50 sometime soon.