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Guest Speaker: Dr. Christopher Kerr

October 13, 2018

Hospice Doctor, Buffalo, NY, Wonderful end-of-life messages....

Christopher Kerr, MD, PhD, is a Hospice and Palliative Care physician who serves as the Chief Executive Officer/Chief Medical Officer at The Center for Hospice & Palliative Care in Buffalo, NY, where he has worked since 1999.

Dr. Kerr was born and raised in Toronto, Canada, and comes from a long line of physicians, of which he is now the fifth generation. Dr. Kerr has an undergraduate degree in Psychology, a Doctorate of Medicine, a PhD in Neurobiology, and he completed his residency in Internal Medicine at the University of Rochester. Dr. Kerr received numerous awards throughout training that recognized his clinical performance as well as his success as an educator and scientist.

Outside of direct patient care, Dr. Kerr’s focus is in the areas of leadership and advocacy. His passion is palliative care and a belief that such care should be offered upstream of its origins in hospice and throughout the continuum of illness. The core principles of palliative care are patient/family centered care that is directed at optimizing ones quality of life by anticipating, preventing and treating suffering. This involves addressing physical, intellectual, emotional, social, and spiritual needs and facilitating patient autonomy, access to information, and choice. Dr. Kerr has overseen the integration and expansion of palliative care into local hospitals and developed one of the nation’s largest home based palliative care programs, which includes services for children. He has lectured and published on innovative program models that are designed to better align patient/family services to the complexity of needs inherent to advanced illness. Under Dr. Kerr’s medical leadership, Hospice Buffalo now serves 1,000 patients a day, half of whom receive services prior to hospice.

Dr. Kerr’s background in research has evolved from bench science towards the human experience of illness as witnessed from the bedside, specifically patient’s dreams and visions at the end of life. Although medically ignored, these near universal experiences often provide comfort and meaning, as well as insight into the life led and the death anticipated. To date, the research team at Hospice Buffalo has published multiple studies on this topic and documented over 1,200 end-of-life events, many of which are videotaped. This work was the subject of his TEDx Buffalo Talk which has been viewed approximately a million times. It has been the subject of reports on the BBC, in The New York Times, The Atlantic Monthly, Scientific American Mind, Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and is the subject of a documentary film in development. It has also gathered international attention and been reported in multiple countries including Norway, Korea, Ireland, India, and China. Dr. Kerr’s work is also being published by Penguin Random House in 2020.

Dr. Kerr has a lifelong love of horses and runs a 30-acre working horse farm in East Aurora, NY which is home to as many as 20 horses. His farm also serves as the site for a Somalian immigrant farming project, for which fallow land was recovered to cultivate large scale community gardens. The goal has been to help these newcomers, now living in Buffalo’s inner-city, reconnect with their traditional farming practices and feed their families. Dr. Kerr is also board chairman of Lothlorien, the oldest therapeutic riding center in the country, which serves individuals with disabilities as well as those without disability but who may benefit from connecting with horses, such as inner city children and veterans. He has two daughters, Bobbie who helps with the horses, and Maddie who oversees the care of the pigs and goats.

View Dr. Kerr's Ted talk: *I See Dead People: Dreams and Visions of the Dying*, []

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