Buffalo, July 29, 2022 — An intimate group of family and friends gathered last night at Hospice & Palliative Care Buffalo to celebrate the legacy of the late Dr. Robert A. Milch, with a special tribute and ribbon-cutting ceremony, commemorating his impact and lasting contributions to the field of hospice and palliative care. This event culminated with the renaming of the Mitchell Campus to the Milch-Mitchell Campus.

“Bob’s legacy extends far beyond this campus,” commented Christopher Kerr, MD, PhD, CEO & Chief Medical Officer of Hospice & Palliative Care Buffalo. “Bob is recognized, nationally and internationally, as a pioneer in the Hospice movement. In the 1970’s, Bob launched the nation’s first hospital-based palliative care program, and today over 80% of U.S. hospitals offer palliative care to their patients. His efforts were instrumental in launching this campus which includes the nation’s first freestanding Hospice Inpatient Unit. Bob’s advocacy included his tireless devotion to educating thousands of medical students about the importance of compassionately caring for those in their end-of-life journey. It is only fitting that we honor his legacy by adding his name to this campus.”

The Hospice Mitchell Campus, named in honor of the Mitchell family, originally opened in 1995 as the nation’s first integrated hospice campus with a 22-bed Residence and 10-bed Inpatient Unit. This campus effort was spearheaded by another early pioneer, Jock Mitchell, who is a life-long hospice volunteer, board member, friend, and ambassador.

“Bob is one of the most remarkable people I have ever known,” commented Jock Mitchell. “I am filled with both gratitude and wonder as I think about the tremendous impact Hospice Buffalo has had on our community, and I am honored and proud to have Bob’s name next to mine in naming this caring and compassionate campus.”

The history of Dr. Robert Milch’s early hospice pioneering days dates back to the late 70’s, shortly after the hospice movement was developing in London, a decade prior.

More specifically, in 1978, young surgeon Dr. Robert Milch met Buffalonian hospice co-founder and RN, Charlotte Shedd. Together, they decided to initiate ‘unofficial’ hospice home care services. 120 volunteers were trained, and ‘hospice-type’ care was provided. Thanks to the motivation of the local hospice advocacy team and the expertise of Dr. Milch, the Buffalo General Hospital Palliative Care Unit was established in 1981 – one of the first such dedicated units in the country. Milch functioned as volunteer Medical Director and consultant, and in 1993, he was appointed as the full-time Medical Director of Hospice Buffalo. The efforts of Dr Milch and others predate any prescribed payment stream for
hospice care, so these services were completely dependent on the generosity of the community as well as charitable donations.

The 1990s saw Hospice Buffalo’s transition and growth from an early grassroots movement to a nationally recognized and respected leader in providing care to patients and their families, challenged with life-limiting illness. Hospice Buffalo is proud to have been the first in the country to accomplish this and many more milestones along the way, thanks to the
early selfless acts of people like Cicely Saunders, Dr. Donald and Charlotte Shedd, Jock Mitchell, Dr. Robert Milch, and so many others.

Dr. Milch, dear friend and co-founder of Hospice & Palliative Care Buffalo, passed away last June after a short illness. He leaves behind a beautiful legacy of commitment, compassion, volunteerism, advocacy, and education, which is the backbone of Hospice & Palliative Care Buffalo. His legacy of dedication and support carries on today with a growing number of providers, volunteers and donors.