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The Center for Hospice & Palliative Care has named a suburban Chicago hospice executive as its new chief executive officer.

Patricia Ahern, president and chief executive of Rainbow Hospice and Palliative Care in Park Ridge, Ill., will take over the local organization on March 17, according to the center.

“I chose to consider New York’s Hospice Buffalo because it is so widely regarded as one of the most influential pioneers in America for end-of-life care,” Ahern said in a statement. “It is a very large and comprehensive not-for-profit organization that plays a meaningful part in everyday life throughout Erie County.”

The Cheektowaga-based center, the parent organization of Hospice Buffalo, has been searching for a new leader since January 2013, when it ended its contract with former chief executive Flint Besecker. He had served as chief for a little more than two years after serving on the organization’s board of directors.

Ahern has served as chief executive of Rainbow Hospice since 1996. She earned a master’s in business administration North Park University, a bachelor’s degree from Northeastern University, and a diploma in nursing from St. Francis Hospital in Evanston, Ill.

In addition to Hospice Buffalo, she will oversee Supportive Medical Partners, which provides palliative care and consultation to any patient with a serious illness, regardless of prognosis; Essential Care for Children, a home care program serving children with life-threatening illnesses and their families; Life Transitions Center, a provider of grief counseling and support groups; the Hospice Foundation of Western New York; and the Palliative Care Institute, a collaborative training initiative with the University at Buffalo.

More than 600 patients are cared for each day by Hospice Buffalo and its affiliate, Supportive Medical Partners, according to the center.

“After several conversations and visits to the Buffalo region, I feel as if we two have found each other as kindred spirits. I know dedication and fidelity and compassion when I see them, and I was humbled and inspired by the team at Hospice Buffalo,” Ahern said.

email: citydesk@buffnews.com