Hermon doctor passes Hospice and Palliative Medicine boards
Tuesday, January 15, 2013 - 9:52 am

Dr. Gary Berk recently passed the Hospice and Palliative Medicine (HPM) boards offered by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), earning a Certificate of Added Qualifications in Hospice & Palliative Medicine.

This certification recognizes family physicians who emphasize the care of seriously ill and dying patients with life-limiting illnesses. Berk, who practices at Hermon Family Health Care, is involved as a physician with Hospice and Palliative Care of St. Lawrence Valley in Potsdam and will continue to play a role in the development of its palliative care programs.

Berk said recently that his hope is to “Use my degree in Hospice and Palliative Care to support our local hospice and palliative care organization and help patients and families coping with serious illnesses to consider all of their options for care rather than just aggressive interventional medical care.”

Palliative care is specialized medical care for people with serious illnesses. It is focused on providing patients with relief from the symptoms, pain, and stress of a serious illness.

This type of care is provided by a team of doctors, nurses, and other specialists who work together with a patient's other doctors to provide an extra layer of support. It is appropriate at any age and at any stage in a serious illness and can be provided along with curative treatment.

Hospice and Palliative Care of St. Lawrence Valley provides palliative care through two programs, The Home Support Program, a collaboration with Canton-Potsdam, Massena Memorial, and Claxton-Hepburn Hospitals in which palliative care is provided for recently discharged patients, and The Palliative Care Case Management Program in which palliative care is provided to patients referred by their physicians and other healthcare providers

Berk grew up on Long Island and received a BA in human biology in 1978 from Brown University. He earned his medical degree in 1983 from the University of Vermont College of Medicine, Burlington, then completed his residency in family practice at the University of Rochester, Highland Hospital. Dr. Berk is a member of the American Board of Family Medicine and the American Board of Geriatrics.

Berk took over the practice in Hermon in 1987 and received a state grant to renovate the basement of the Hermon Hepburn Library for the medical practice. He then delivered babies for the first 9 years in practice.

Berk has maintained active staff privileges at Canton Potsdam Hospital with six years as chairman of the Department of Family Practice. He helped to establish Primecare and the After Hours Clinic at CPH.

Berk has a special interest in geriatrics and is Medical Director of Clarkson Student Health Services. He supported the establishment of the hospitalist program at CPH and continues to fill in the schedule on the weekends once a month.

Berk continues to provide primary care at Hermon Family Health Care with physician assistant David Adams full time.