Dr. Michael Brescia has dedicated the past 50 years of his career to serving thousands of patients at Calvary Hospital, the nation’s only fully accredited acute care specialty hospital devoted exclusively to providing palliative care to adult advanced cancer patients. In 1962, Dr. Brescia joined the Hospital as Attending Physician and became Executive Medical Director in 1994.
Dr. Brescia has played an integral role in establishing the pioneering and unparalleled care that is synonymous with Calvary Hospital. Unlike other health care facilities, Calvary focuses on the emotional, psychological, and spiritual needs of its patients. Operating under Dr. Brescia’s belief that “when one person has cancer, the entire family has cancer,” the hospital has rolled out a diverse and unique array of services year-round for patients and their families such as cancer prevention lectures, bereavement support groups for adults and children, and Pastoral Care in a multitude of faiths. An on-site Family Care Center provides adult and young visitors with a respite during their visits.
Dr. Brescia is internationally recognized for co-inventing the Brescia-Cimino Arterio-Venous Fistula in 1966, a milestone in the field of kidney disease. Within a year after it was first made available, the Brescia-Cimino Fistula helped save the lives of 50,000 patients who previously had no means for access to an artificial kidney. Dr. Brescia sacrificed his own personal financial gain so that this invention could benefit millions of dying renal patients across the globe. Today, the fistula continues to impact the lives of millions of patients with kidney disease.
Dr. Brescia’s career has included positions as Attending Physician, Director of Renal Services, Director of Hemodialysis Unit, and/or Nephrology Consultant at the Bronx VA Hospital, St. Joseph’s Hospital, and Our Lady of Mercy Hospital. He has also served as a Nephrology consultant to the New York City Health Department. Dr. Brescia has been a Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine at New York Medical College (Valhalla, NY) since 1979 and a visiting lecturer at Fordham University since 1992.
Dr. Brescia has been honored with the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, Catholic Health Association Award and the Il Leone di San Marco Award for Medicine from the Italian Heritage Committee. Among the professional awards that he has received to date are the: Federal Government Commendation for Advances in the Field of Hemodialysis, AMA Physician Recognition Award, the Good Samaritan Award from the National Catholic Development Council, and the Americus Award for Outstanding Physician Award from Bronx Community College.
Dr. Brescia serves on the Hospital Advisory Council, Subacute Task Force, Mission Leadership Task Force, Subcommittee on End of Life Issues of the Catholic Health Care Network. He is a member of the Board of Directors for Fidelis Care (New York State Catholic Health Plan) and Assistant Secretary of the Board of Trustees for New York Servitas IPA, of the Catholic Health Care Network (CHCN). He is coordinator of International Health Support and Outreach for the Department of Health and Hospitals of the New York Archdiocese. He is a member of the American Medical Association, NY State Society of Nephrology, American Society of Nephrology, International Society of Nephrology, and the American Society for Artificial Internal Organs.
A prolific author, articles by Dr. Brescia have appeared in leading medical and mainstream publications such as the “New England Journal of Medicine,” “ASAIO Journal,” “Journal of the American Society of Nephrology,” and “The New York Times.”
Dr. Brescia graduated from Fordham University (NY) with a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and from Georgetown University School of Medicine (Washington, DC) with his medical degree. He interned at Meadowbrook Hospital (NY) and completed his residency at the Bronx VA Hospital (NY). In 1994 and 2009, he received honorary doctorates from Fordham University (NY) and The College of New Rochelle (NY), respectively. Dr. Brescia resides in Westchester County, NY.
Christopher P. Comfort, MD joined Calvary Hospital as Medical Director in 1999. In July 2019, he was promoted to Chief Operating Officer. Dr. Comfort has administrative oversight for Calvary’s $137 million operating budget covering their 200-bed Bronx campus, 25-bed Brooklyn campus, as well as its relationships with The Dawn Greene Hospice at Mary Manning Walsh in Manhattan and Ozanam Hall of Queens Nursing Home in Bayside.
Dr. Comfort has been a physician for more than 37 years. Prior to Calvary, he practiced general and geriatric medicine in the Bronx, NY. Dr. Comfort has been an Attending Physician at numerous hospitals in New York including Bronx Municipal Hospital Center, Morningside Nursing Facility, and Montefiore Medical Center. He is currently on staff at NYU Langone, NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia and New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center. In addition, he serves as a consultant at Archcare at Mary Manning Walsh and Ozanam Hall of Queens Nursing Home.
In 1985, Dr. Comfort received the Leo Davidoff Award for Teaching Excellence and is active in the Albert Einstein College of Medicine Mentorship Program. He has been a consultant to several major health insurance companies and is a frequent speaker at programs for community groups as well as medical professionals.
Dr. Comfort graduated from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, California and the St. Louis University School of Medicine. He completed an Internship and Residency at Bronx Municipal Hospital Center and is board certified in Internal Medicine (1987) and Geriatrics (1995). Dr. Comfort was a member of the Metropolitan Physicians Practice Association where he served as Secretary, Vice-President, and President. He resides in Westchester County, NY.
Robert M. Siegel, MD, FACC, joined Calvary Hospital as Medical Director in July 2019. He has oversight of all patient care that Calvary delivers at their 200-bed Bronx Campus, 25-bed Brooklyn Campus, 18-bed Dawn Greene Hospice at The Dawn Greene Hospice at Mary Manning Walsh in Manhattan, Ozanam Hall of Queens Nursing Home in Bayside, and wherever our patients reside in the community.
Dr. Siegel has significant experience in palliative care/end-of-life care with cardiac patients. He was most recently Associate Medical Director of Compassionate Care Hospice, where he was Director of the Cardiac Connections program in the Bronx and Brooklyn. His responsibilities included supervising patient care and nursing education for patients receiving palliative cardiac care, teaching cardiology and palliative care fellows, and lecturing on medical grand rounds.
During his nine-year tenure at Jacobi Medical Center, Dr. Siegel served in multiple roles including Heart Failure Program Director, Cardiac Care Unit Director, Echocardiography/Stress Laboratory Acting Director, and Critical Care Quality Improvement Director.
Since 2010, Dr. Siegel has been Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. He has taught or mentored more than 300 trainees, including medical students, medical residents, and cardiology fellows. Dr. Siegel has been honored with multiple awards including: Jacobi Medical Center Internal Medicine Residency Program Faculty Mentorship Prize (2018) and Faculty Teaching Prize (2011), as well as the Leo M. Davidoff Society of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine Outstanding Achievement in Teaching Medical Students (2017).
Dr. Siegel has published research on GUIDE-IT Trial (2012-2016). He is currently the principal investigator for Weight-based Torsemide Dosing in Subjects with Heart Failure (2017-present).
Dr. Siegel graduated from Yale University with a Bachelor of Arts degree with honors in History/Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, and from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. He was Medical Resident at Columbia University Medical Center and Chief Cardiology Fellow at Montefiore Medical Center.
Dr. Siegel is Board Certified in Internal Medicine. He is active in the American Medical Association, American Heart Association, American College of Cardiology, and the Medical Society of the State of New York. He is fluent in English and Spanish.
Dr. Robert A. Brescia is Director of both the Palliative Care Institute (PCI) and psychiatric services at Calvary Hospital. For more than 28 years, as a clinician, educator, and researcher, Dr. Brescia has focused on reducing the emotional and psychiatric suffering of patients with advanced disease and their families. This work has included personally treating more than 12,000 patients in their last days of life and lecturing extensively on the psychiatric care of the terminally ill.
Since 2003, when Dr. Brescia became Director, the PCI has become recognized as the world leader in education and research in palliative and end-of-life care and was designated by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) an “international training center in palliative care.” Current programs include: training more than 800 medical students, residents and fellows each year from the greater New York area; “Inside Calvary” a national, three-day on-site program in palliative care; and a unique partnership with the NCI and Middle East Cancer Consortium which brings Calvary Hospital’s expertise in relief of suffering to caregivers from Israel, Egypt, Cyprus, Jordan, Turkey and the Palestinian Authority. The PCI recently signed a 5-year affiliation agreement with Higashi Sapporo Hospital in Japan to train physician and nurses from Japan at Calvary Hospital through the PCI.
Dr. Brescia is actively involved in research studies involving psychosocial issues of advanced cancer patients and their families. These include an NIH collaborative study with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) investigating “The Desire for a Hastened Death in Terminally Ill Cancer Patients,” an NIH collaborative study with MSKCC and Fordham University on “Measuring Hopelessness at the End of Life” and an NIH collaborative study with MSKCC on “Family Focused Grief Therapy.” He has published numerous articles including, Depression, Hopelessness, and Desire for Hastened Death in Terminally Ill Patients with Cancer; Burden and Benefit of Psychosocial Research at the End of Life; Assessing Hopelessness in the Terminally Ill; Development of the Hopelessness Assessment in Illness Questionnaire; Anxiety in Terminally Ill Cancer Patients.
Dr. Brescia graduated from Fordham University with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and state University of New York-Downstate Medical Center with a medical degree. He completed his psychiatric residency at the New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center. Dr.Brescia is on the teaching faculty at New York Medical College and SUNY Downstate and is on the Editorial Board of the Palliative and Supportive Care Journal. He resides in Westchester County, NY.
Dr. Sherry Schachter served as Director of Bereavement Services from 2005-2017.
Under Sherry’s leadership, Calvary has:
expanded our evidence-based bereavement services program to two dozen groups for children, tweens, teens and adults that meet regularly in the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Manhattan
improved the quality and reach of Calvary’s Camp Compass®, our weeklong summer bereavement camp
increased the professional strength of the bereavement counselor staff
expanded the Hospital’s annual professional learning program
Prior to joining Calvary in 2005, Dr. Schachter worked at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center for 22 years as a Nurse Manager, Clinical Nurse Specialist, and Assistant Attending Grief Therapist. Dr. Schachter’s professional certifications include:
Association for Death Education and Counseling (Past President)
Fellow in Thanatology: Death, Dying and Bereavement (2005- recertified 2017)
Thanatology: Death, Dying and Bereavement (2004-2006)
Certified Professional Grief Therapist (1997-2002)
Dr. Schacter is active in various professional organizations, often in multiple leadership roles. These include but are not limited to:
Association for Death Education and Counseling (ADEC)
International Psycho-Oncology Society (IPOS)
National Hospice Organization and International Work Group on Death, Dying and Bereavement (IWG)
Columbia University Death Seminar
Board member of National Widowers Organization
A highly sought-after speaker for national and international bereavement and healthcare conferences, Dr. Schachter has had multiple peer-reviewed papers published in industry journals and has written chapters on Grief and Thanatology in various books published by professionals in the field.
Since 2011, she has served as an Adjunct Professor for The College of New Rochelle Graduate School.
Dr. Schachter graduated from State University of New York at Stony Brook School of Nursing with a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing; Brooklyn College Graduate School with a Master’s degree in Thanatology andThe Union Institute Graduate School wit