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Dr. Richard Milazzo has a passion for patients

Still committed to the community

Dr. Richard Milazzo

Dr. Richard Milazzo has been a fixture in the Dunkirk community for decades. The General Physician, PC primary care doctor has been treating patients in Dunkirk and Fredonia since before the iPhone was a thing. His care precedes the Internet. He remembers a time when the family doctor trumped WebMD. Through all of the change and evolution in both popular culture and medicine, Dr. Milazzo has been a steady fixture in the Dunkirk community, treating generations of families over the last 40+ years.

When asked what drew him to medicine, Dr. Milazzo credited his father, a urologist, with playing a role in his interest, though he says it went deeper when it came time to choose what branch of medicine he would pursue.

“I really like the intellectual challenges of internal medicine, where you basically cover all of the different specialties,” he said. To that end, Dr. Milazzo says he still studies and researches medical journals, “almost every night” to make sure he is continually offering the best care to his patients.

“I have patients I have seen for more than 40 years,” he says. “I went into this because I wanted to help people, and I know that sounds corny, but it’s true. So, if I have a visit where I feel like I haven’t helped the person, I feel bad about it — that’s a wasted visit for me.”

Dr. Milazzo says in an era where providers are feeling the pressure to see more and more patients because of lower reimbursement rates and other issues, it can be tough for many providers to give patients the level of time and care to meet all of their needs.

“Fortunately, General Physician allows me to do what I feel I need to do,” he said. “There has never been anything like, ‘you’ve got to shorten your visits’ or anything like that.”

Dr. Milazzo says his patients appreciate the fact that when he is in the room with them, they have his attention, and he isn’t looking at his watch to get to the next exam room.

“I know one of the big groups has a rule where you have to see a patient every five minutes,” he said. “And you have to document the visit, so the patient doesn’t even get the full five minutes. We don’t do that here.”

Asked to reflect back on the biggest change he has seen after more than four decades on the job, Dr. Milazzo pointed to the advancements in how care is approached in 2020.

“When I began, there was almost no preventative medicine,” he said. “There was controlling blood pressure, and that was about it.”

He also points to the idea that as medicine evolves, so too does the practitioner.

“A lot of the things I learned back then, are the exact opposite now,” he said. “For example, years ago, the acceptable number for cholesterol was 350. Today it’s 200. It has really been fascinating to watch medicine evolve.”

While many people focus on when they can retire, Dr. Milazzo isn’t ready to hang up his stethoscope just yet. He says he is still motivated to keep learning and keep serving his patients.

“I have developed a lot of relationships with many of my patients,” he said. “At least once a week I’ll have a patients say, ‘don’t retire until I die,’ which I don’t know how to take that (laughs).”

Dr. Milazzo says he is also closely connected to his staff.

“I have been working with Jami (Babcock) for 32 years as my office manager,” he said. “And I work closely with the other staff as well.”

All of that means, his patients can expect to see Dr. Milazzo walking through the exam room door to care for them for the foreseeable future.

“As long as I am enjoying it, and doing it well, I plan to continue,” he said. “And Jami has told me that if I ever stop doing it well, she will let me know.”

Dr. Milazzo is accepting new patients at General Physician’s Dunkirk office. Call 716-363-6960 to schedule an appointment.

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