In the Spotlight: Robert B. Kelly, M.D.

A board-certified physician in pediatrics and critical care with clinical interests in pulmonary hypertension, ECMO, pediatric transport, global health, outreach and business has joined CHOC Children’s.

Dr. Robert Kelly is medical director of the cardiovascular intensive care unit (CVICU) and associate division chief and director of research and academics for the division of critical care at CHOC.

In his role, Dr. Kelly enjoys working in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) and CVICU, as well as supporting one of CHOC’s goals in guiding research and educational opportunities for physicians and trainees.

“What makes our division special is our incredible diversity,” Dr. Kelly says. “Our group has an excellent mix of new and seasoned physicians from various training programs and prior experiences. From special interest and experience in CVICU and palliative care, to community PICU care and hospital administration, we are a varied group.”

Dr. Kelly attended medical school at Georgetown University School of Medicine, in Washington, D.C. He completed his pediatric residency at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, in Hershey, Penn.; and completed his pediatric critical care fellowship at UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital.

This dedicated physician has been fascinated with science and biology since he can remember, but he found his passion for pediatrics while in medical school.

“Taking care of children is the most rewarding aspect of my job because the challenges of dealing with patients who often cannot communicate their symptoms pushes me to constantly think, question and re-evaluate,” Dr. Kelly says. “I cannot think of anything more satisfying than being able to form a therapeutic relationship with a family, have a direct hand in the progression of their child’s recovery and then see so many of our patients return to visit the unit after discharge.”

One of Dr. Kelly’s goals is to help expand the capacity and capabilities of the CVICU to handle more complex surgical cases. The team recently added an expert CVICU nurse practitioner with excellent leadership and educational experience. Additionally, the team is working on protocolizing sedation and analgesia practices.

“I’m really excited about one of our latest projects, where we will be revamping daily bedside rounding to begin with nurse-led presentations,” Dr. Kelly says. “We believe this practice will make our care even more family-centered, while also empowering nurses to take a larger role in the care of their patients.”

Through the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Dr. Kelly has participated in several global health missions, including a recent trip to a tertiary academic PICU in Maputo, Mozambique, which he has been working with for many years to bring pediatric resuscitation training to its physicians, nurses and students.

“On the latest trip, I traveled to two referring hospitals to begin instruction on building a local pediatric transport system,” he says. “We plan on future trips to begin analyzing the demographics of pediatric transport among those three hospitals in order to measure the success of our interventions.”

Dr. Kelly is a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics and a member of the Society of Critical Care Medicine.

In his spare time, Dr. Kelly likes to spend time with his wife and daughter. He enjoys playing golf and taking vacations with his family to Hawaii, as well as watching the New York Mets and New York Giants.