Meet the Clinical Leadership Team

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Dr. Richard Castaldo, Medical Director

  Dr. Richard Castaldo is the Medical Director for Niagara Hospice and has more than 25 years of experience as a physician. With specialties in internal medicine and primary care, he also serves as the Medical Director for the Pathways palliative care program and Kalos Health. His career has included an affiliation with Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center Primary Care and Suboxone Clinic.
   He has been appointed a Clinical Assistant Professor at the University at Buffalo's Jacob Medical School for his role in guiding fourth-year medical students through their hospice and palliative care elective rotations. In 2002, he was named UB's Medical School Teacher of the Year for his work with the program.
   Over the last 25 years, he also served as the primary care doctor for Division I student-athletes, specifically the Niagara University Men's Hockey Team.
   He has participated in numerous phase two and phase three research projects throughout his career and has been published in various topics.
  

Dr. Jay Newman, Assistant Medical Director

   Dr. Jay Newman is the assistant medical director for Niagara Hospice. He is board certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine and brings 30 years of experience to the clinical leadership team at Niagara Hospice. Under medical director, Dr. Richard Castaldo, Dr. Newman provides leadership to the clinical care team while providing comprehensive end-of-life care for Niagara County patients and families facing a terminal illness. 
   He has extensive clinical experience in a hospital setting, having previously worked as an attending physician in the emergency departments at Kenmore Mercy Hospital, Buffalo VA Medical Center and Mount St. Mary’s Hospital. He received the Doctor of Distinction award from Kenmore Mercy in 2018. He previously served as Chief Medical Resident at the Buffalo Veterans Affairs Medical Center in 1991 and later as the Chief of Emergency Department at the Buffalo VA. He also served as Chief of the Emergency Department at Kenmore Mercy Hospital.
   He is a graduate of SUNY at Buffalo with a B.A. in psychology and earned his M.D. at Autonomous University of Guadalajara in Guadalajara, Mexico.


Dr. Bharat Kohli, Assistant Medical Director

   Dr. Bharat Kohli, MBA, is a Clinician and Physician Executive who has held leadership positions in hospital administration as well as the pharmaceutical, medical device and biotech industries in the areas of research and development, medical affairs and business development. 

   His most recent position was as Chief Medical Officer for the Community Health Centers of Buffalo, where he was responsible for the oversight, administration, planning and development of high-quality clinical services provided by the Community Health Center of Buffalo and for defining the best structure for that oversight for treating 21,000 patients. His responsibilities also included hiring and supervising clinical staff, peer review, development and implementation of the clinical quality assurance program and advising the CEO and Board of Directors on clinical issues, including quality improvement and quality assurance.

  His clinical background is in family practice and emergency medicine and he has practiced in Canada and the United States. Dr. Kohli is a graduate of the University of Toronto Medical School with specialties in primary care and emergency medicine. He also earned an MBA from the University at Buffalo. 


Dr. Robert G. Wahler, PharmD, BCGP, FASCP, CPE, Director of Pharmacy Services 

Dr. Robert G. Wahler has been the Director of Pharmacy Services at Niagara Hospice since 2002. He also serves as a Clinical Associate Professor in the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University at Buffalo.
  His research interests focus on identifying and reducing medication related fall risk in the elderly. Using the Medication Therapy Management (MTM) model, he is developing clinical decision support tools to access medication falls risk, medication cognition impairment and inappropriate medications in the elderly.
  Dr. Wahler received a B.S. degree in pharmacy from Albany College of Pharmacy at Union University and his Doctor of Pharmacy from the University at Buffalo.
  He is a founding member and presently on the Board of Trustees as the Niagara Hospice representative to the Society of Pain Palliative Care Pharmacists. He has served as the Pharmacist Section Leader for the National Council of Hospice and Palliative Care Professionals of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. 
  Specialized as both a Board Certified Geriatric Pharmacist and Certified Pain Educator, Dr. Wahler includes student education in his daily practice of caring for hospice patients. In 2009, he established a student staffed Medication Reconciliation Service for Niagara Hospice’s general inpatient unit in which approximately 150 students have reconciled medication lists for more than 2,500 patients over the 10 years of the program. 

 

Dr. Todd M. Orszulak, D.O. 

Dr. Orszulak is a Niagara Falls native and graduate of Canisius College, where he was on an academic scholarship and received a Bachelor’s Degree in biology. After Canisius, he graduated from Kirksville Osteopathic medical school in Kirksville, Missouri.

While at Canisius College, Dr. Orszulak learned the difference between Osteopathic (D.O.) vs. standard Allopathic (M.D.) medicine. Osteopathic medicine is a combination of “hands on” musculoskeletal manipulation as well as standard medicine. He saw this as an opportunity to offer a more holistic approach to medicine for his patients especially in a primary care setting.

He finished his training in medical school with outpatient and medicine rotations in Cleveland. After he graduated medical school, he moved back to Buffalo and married his wife, Adrienne. He finished his residency in Internal Medicine through the University of Buffalo Program at Sisters, Buffalo General, ECMC and the VA.

 

Danielle M. Burngasser, RN, BSN, Vice President of Hospice Clinical Operations

  Danielle Burngasser is the Vice President of Hospice Clinical Operations at Niagara Hospice. She began her career at Niagara Hospice in 2004 as a full-time home care nurse. She was promoted to Team Leader in 2006 and then to Director of Hospice Homecare Services in 2008.
   In 2012, Ms. Burngasser assisted in establishing the organization’s collaborative hospice units at the Northgate Health Care Facility in North Tonawanda and Schoellkopf Health Center in Niagara Falls. 
  She has been certified in Hospice and Palliative Care Nursing since 2009 and is an active member of the Certified and Palliative Care Nurses Association. She earned a Bachelor of Science in nursing from Niagara University. 


Jane James, NP, Director of Admissions

  Jane James, NP, is the Director of Admissions for Niagara Hospice and has been a registered nurse for 18 years. A resident of Lockport, she earned a Bachelor of Science in nursing from Daemen College and a Master of Science in Family Nurse Practitioner at D'Youville College.
   James has led the admissions department for Niagara Hospice for three years and oversees the Pathways palliative care program. She manages a team of chronic illness educators and care managers who deploy telehealth technology that provides remote, real-time monitoring of symptoms to ensure a rapid nurse response whenever the patient or family has urgent needs.  
   She is board certified through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) and has worked as a registered nurse at Eastern Niagara Hospital in Lockport, where she specialized in the emergency department and critical care, before joining Niagara Hospice in February 2019. She has also worked in the neuro-surgical intensive care unit at Gates Vascular Institute. 
   James received the Paul Harris Fellows Award from the Lockport Rotary Club in 2020 and holds several certifications, including BLS (Basic Life Support), ACLS (Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support) and PALS (Pediatric Advanced Life Support).

Sandra Sauvageau, NP, Niagara Hospice House
  
   Sandra Sauvageau, NP is the Nurse Practitioner at Niagara Hospice House in Lockport. She has been an NP for 20 years and previously worked for Catholic Health in the neurology office for four years prior to joining Niagara Hospice.
   She has worked as a nurse practitioner in a sub-acute nursing facility, specializing in internal medicine, and has extensive experience in private practice and hospital settings.
   Prior to becoming a nurse practitioner, she worked as a registered nurse in the intensive care unit at Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center. She received a bachelor of science and master of science from Niagara University and is board certified by the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. She is also certified in ACLS, MAT (suboxone) and Wilderness Medicine.

Janet Ligammari, RN, Director of Hospice Facility Services, Niagara Hospice House

   Janet Ligammari is a native of Niagara Falls. During her 40-year career in the health care field, Ms. Ligammari has received several awards, including the 2005 Mission in Action Nurse Award, and was nominated for the New York State Nurse of Distinction recognition. She started her career as a staff nurse at Mount Saint Mary’s Hospital, was promoted to assistant nurse coordinator, and again promoted to Director of the Medical-Surgical Department in 2001.
   Ms. Ligammari also worked for Frank Altieri, MD and James Wopperer, MD for four years as an orthopaedic office nurse before joining Niagara Hospice in January 2007.

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