Yale Bulletin and Calendar

September 20-27, 1999Volume 28, Number 5













Dr. Harvey Kaetz dies; was internist and oncologist

Dr. Harvey Kaetz, the first chief of medicine and first medical director of the Yale Health Plan, died at his home in Wallingford, Connecticut, on Aug. 19. He was 85 years old.

When Yale's health-care facility was created in 1971 as the first HMO in the State of Connecticut, Dr. Kaetz had already been in the private practice of internal medicine for over a quarter century. In his practice he had pioneered the specialty of oncology/hematology (the treatment of cancer and blood disorders) in the New Haven community.

Dr. Kaetz was the first internist hired for the fledgling health center by its first director, Dr. Daniel S. Rowe, who is now professor emeritus of pediatrics and public health. Dr. Rowe recalls, "We were interested in recruiting some of the most competent and experienced clinicians in New Haven to form the keystone of the health service and Harvey was already flirting with the idea of giving up his private practice."

"Harvey Kaetz was a tremendous acquisition, who gave YHP instant credibility," says Dr. Moreson Kaplan, medical director at Yale University Health Services and associate clinical professor at the School of Medicine.

Although Dr. Kaetz was primarily affiliated with YHP's internal medicine department, "oncology soon became an important segment of his practice here," Rowe remembers. "He was an excellent physician who was extremely well liked and respected."

Dr. Kaetz served as chief of medicine at the Yale Health Plan from 1971 to 1976 and as medical director from 1971 to 1979, then continued to practice as an internist and oncologist until his "first" retirement in 1984. For many years afterward he maintained his close ties with the University Health Services center, first serving as the consultant to YHP for the New Haven practice that then began providing YHP's hematology/oncology services (the practice he had originally established). Later he actually returned to YHP to continue as its oncologist in addition to working as a general internist, filling in as needed. He finally retired in 1990.

"Harvey Kaetz had a remarkable presence," says Kaplan. "He was my personal mentor and his influence on all the internists and other clinicians who served with him was immense. He was a big man, physically, who had a big heart and a huge practice. He is remembered as a doctor who cared for patients with wonderful grace."

Molly Meyer, a nurse practitioner at the YHP who worked with Dr. Kaetz for many years, describes him as "an incredibly gifted physician" who had an "intuitive sense" for pinpointing patients' problems. She recalls one colleague saying that, "Nobody could give a hug like Harvey Kaetz."

Harvey Kaetz was born in Malden, Maine, in 1914. He graduated from Tufts University with a B.S. in 1936, and he received his M.D. from the Tufts Medical School in 1940. There, he was elected to the honorary medical society, Alpha Omega Alpha. Dr. Kaetz took his internship at the former Grace Hospital in New Haven and did postgraduate work in hematology-oncology with Dr. William Dameshek at New England Center Hospital in Boston. Dr. Kaetz was a clinical professor of medicine at the Yale School of Medicine and an attending physician at Yale-New Haven Hospital. He was a diplomate of the American Board of Internal Medicine, a fellow of the American College of Physicians, and a member of the Connecticut State and New Haven County Medical Societies. He was a member and former president of Congregation Mishkan Israel in Hamden.

Dr. Kaetz is survived by his wife, Rhea; three children, Deborah, of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Susan of Seattle, Washington, and David of British Columbia; and a grandchild, Avia, of British Columbia.


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