Faculty and Current Fellows | Palliative Care Fellowship | Washington Hospital Center | MedStar Health
Hunter Groninger

Hunter Groninger, MD

FACP FAAHPM, Section Director

Dr. Groninger serves as Director of the Section of Palliative Care at MedStar Washington Hospital Center and as an Associate Professor of Medicine at Georgetown University. He also serves as Program Director for the MedStar-Georgetown Interprofessional Palliative Medicine Fellowship Program.

Dr. Groninger grew up outside of Boston, Massachusetts, completed his undergraduate degree at Princeton University and master's degree at the University of Paris-Sorbonne. After completing his medical degree and training in internal medicine at the University of Virginia, Dr. Groninger completed a fellowship in hospice and palliative medicine at Capital Hospice in Washington, D.C.,

Dr. Groninger is also a Master Facilitator with the Education for Palliative and End-of-Life Care (EPEC) Program at Northwestern University, a Faculty Affiliate in the Center for Biomedical Ethics and Medical Humanities at the University of Virginia, and a grant-funded investigator at the MedStar Health Research Institute. Some of his current studies include palliative care delivery in cardiovascular medicine, innovative symptom management strategies, language and word choice in complex communication, and the medical humanities.

To learn more about Dr. Groninger, please click here.

Michael Pottash

Michael Pottash, MD, MPH

Program Director

After completing a Master's in Public Health, Dr. Pottash studied medicine in Haifa, Israel at the Technion Israel Institute of Technology: Faculty of Medicine. He then completed training in Internal Medicine at Jacobi Medical Center, followed by fellowships in palliative medicine and clinical ethics at Northwell Health (formerly North Shore-LIJ), along with a certificate course in bioethics at the Hofstra School of Law.

Dr. Pottash is the program director for the MedStar Health Interprofessional Palliative Medicine Fellowship Program and is an Associate Professor of Medicine at Georgetown University. He serves as vice-chair of the hospital’s ethics committee and as chair of the GHUCCTS institutional review board. He is also an adjunct faculty in the Medical Humanities Initiative at Georgetown University.

To learn more about Dr. Pottash, please click here.

Aparna Desai

Aparna Desai, DO, MPH

Associate Program Director

Dr. Desai is the Associate Program Director of the MedStar Health Interprofessional Palliative Medicine Fellowship Program and an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Georgetown University. She obtained her undergraduate degree at Johns Hopkins University, followed by a Master of Public Health degree at the University of Southern California. After attending medical school at Touro University Nevada, Dr. Desai completed residency training in Internal Medicine at UCSF Fresno. She completed her fellowship training in Hospice and Palliative Medicine at the University of California, San Diego.

Dr. Desai is highly motivated to provide compassionate care to patients and families who are facing serious, life-limiting illness. Her clinical interests include complex symptom management, caring for patients at the end-of-life, and supporting individuals experiencing grief and loss. She is deeply passionate about medical education, and has a special interest in communications skills trainings, promoting primary palliative care skills, and cultivating clinician wellbeing and resilience. Dr. Desai is a recipient of the James A. Curtin Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Dr. Desai is a physician lead for Schwartz Rounds at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, which aims to promote compassion and vulnerability in healthcare. She is an active member of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine.

Nina LaIng

Nina Laing, LICSW, APHSW-C

Social Work Fellowship Program Director

Nina Laing joined Medstar Washington Hospital in 2017, initially working as a primary Social Worker in the intensive care unit where she worked with patients and families facing critical illness, trauma and progression of disease. Nina is a member of the Ethics Committee and the Health Equity Committee. She also works with palliative clinicians within the larger Medstar system to identify practice priorities within an equity framework.

Prior to joining the Hospital Center staff, Nina obtained her master's in social work at the Silver School of Social Work at NYU. She gained valuable experience working with children and their families confronted with chronic or life limiting illness at the Elizabeth Seton Pediatric Center and subsequently completed a fellowship in Palliative Social Work at Mt. Sinai Beth Israel Hospital in New York, New York.

Nina has published writings addressing the role of palliative social work and palliative social work within critical care medicine. She continues to explore the intersection of palliative social work and our larger health landscape and has a particular interest in health disparities, which is an emerging research interest.

Kristen McElreath

Kristen McElreath, MD

Dr. McElreath is a faculty physician in the section of Palliative Care. She completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Michigan where she earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing. After working as a nurse in various settings she pursued her medical degree at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine. She then completed her residency training in Family Medicine at the University of Michigan where she developed an interest in outpatient medicine.

Dr. McElreath completed a Hospice and Palliative Medicine fellowship at MedStar Washington Hospital Center. Her interests include outpatient medicine and improving access to palliative care.

Clint Pettit, MD

Dr. Pettit is a faculty physician in the Section of Palliative Care. After attending medical school at his hometown's University of Nebraska Medical Center, Dr. Pettit entered the MedStar fold at Georgetown University Hospital as an internal medicine resident.  Deciding to keep Washington, D.C., (and MedStar Health) as his home, Dr. Pettit completed a fellowship in hospice and palliative medicine in the MedStar Washington Hospital Center-Capital Caring Fellowship program in 2016.

Dr. Pettit has a passion for inpatient palliative medicine and a special interest in electronic health record ease-of-use. Outside of the hospital, Dr. Pettit's passion lies in music; he frequently attends local shows and writes his own music for classical and electric guitar.

Anirudh Rao, MD

Dr. Rao is a faculty physician in the Section of Palliative Care. He was raised in New York and obtained his undergraduate degree from Cornell University. After completing medical school at Johns Hopkins, Dr. Rao completed a residency in Internal-Medicine and Pediatrics and a fellowship in Palliative Medicine at the Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Dr. Rao is interested in the palliative care needs of adolescents and young adults who are survivors of childhood illnesses. He is also interested in improving medical decision-making at the end-of-life and providing communication skills trainings for clinicians.

Anne Keleman

Anne Kelemen, LICSW, APHSW-C

Director of Psychosocial/Spiritual Care

Anne Kelemen is the Director of Psychosocial/Spiritual Care for the Section of Palliative Care at MedStar Washington Hospital Center in Washington, DC, where she conducts patient care, teaches and participates in a variety of research activities.

Prior to joining the Hospital Center staff, Ms. Kelemen instituted the first palliative care service at MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. She also is the founding director of the Palliative Social Work Fellowship Program at the Hospital Center. An Assistant Professor of Medicine at Georgetown University Medical Center, her research interests include the intersection between language and medicine and intimacy and chronic illness. Ms. Kelemen is also Vice-Chair of the Social Work Hospice and Palliative Network (SWHPN).

Deborah Lewis

Deborah Lewis, LICSW, APHSW-C

Deborah Lewis is a Palliative Care Social Worker at Medstar Washington Hospital Center, licensed in the District of Columbia. She received her master's degree from Catholic University in 2018, with a Clinical Health Care Specialization. Deborah believes that facing serious illness is a possibility we all share, and therefore should never face alone. She works with patients to marshal their personal, social, and spiritual resources and develop specific coping tools so that they can better tolerate the challenges of their illness and live their best lives. Prior to becoming a social worker, Deborah was an attorney who worked as a public defender and for nonprofit legal advocacy organizations.

Tatiana Miles

Ta'Tiana Miles, MSW, LGSW

Ta’Tiana Miles is a Palliative Care Social Worker at Medstar Washington Hospital, licensed at the master’s level in several states and the District of Columbia. Ta’Tiana has a wide range of experience in several areas of Social Work; including a history conducting therapy, completing hospital travel assignments across the country and inpatient psychiatry work. Due to the variety and intensity of previous experience, she has developed a dedication to imparting empathy, support and appropriate humor to ensure that all patients receive person centered care with intention and compassion. It was a travel assignment at MedStar Georgetown that ignited her passion for palliative care that helped her decide to settle here in DC as a permanent palliative social worker. Ta’Tiana believes that a steady experienced hand can be a source of comfort when helping support patients through a serious illness. Ta’Tiana received her B.A in Psychology from Spelman College (’14)  and her MSW from the University of Southern California (’15).

Linda Fisher

Linda G. Fisher, Chaplain

Chaplain Fischer, an Episcopal lay woman, is living out a vocational call to the ministry of hospital chaplaincy and compassionate spiritual care at end-of-life. She has a particular interest in how the experience of grief, loss, and emotional trauma within the body effects learning during times of crisis, illness and disease. Prior to joining the MWHC Palliative Care Team in March 2014, she served as outpatient oncology chaplain at MedStar Washington Cancer Institute. Chaplain Fischer trained at the Center for Pastoral Counseling in Virginia, and the MedStar Washington Hospital Center Cancer Residency for Spiritual Caregivers.

She facilitates grief groups, coordinates the Palliative Care bereavement program, and teaches grief, loss, death and dying, and other spiritual concerns arising at end-of-life in clinical pastoral education (CPE) programs. Chaplain Fischer is a recipient of the MedStar Washington Hospital Center 2010 Healing Spirit Award and the Washington Cancer Institute 2013 SPIRIT Award. She is active in her parish community at Christ Episcopal Church in Alexandria, Virginia, where she serves in a variety of leadership roles.

Laura Johnson

Laura Simmons, MDiv BCC

Rev. Laura Simmons (Johnson), MDiv, BCC is a Palliative Care Chaplain at MedStar Washington Hospital Center. Laura completed her undergraduate studies at the College of Charleston and received a Master of Divinity with Certificate in Theology, Medicine, and Culture from Duke University Divinity School. Laura completed a residency in Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) at Duke University Medical Center and a second-year residency in CPE at the University of Virginia Health System, where she focused on Palliative Care. She is a Board Certified Chaplain in the Association of Professional Chaplains, and ordained and endorsed by the United Church of Christ denomination. At MedStar Washington Hospital Center, Laura is the Palliative Care Chaplain Workgroup Lead, serves as a faculty member for the Interprofessional Palliative Care Fellowship program, and mentors and teaches various learners across the hospital. Laura is deeply passionate about providing holistic and compassionate spiritual care, creating opportunities for patients and families to process the often-isolating experience of serious illness through the lens of their spirituality, and engaging in interdisciplinary collaboration.

Tracey Lopez

Tracey Lopez, MDiv, MS,BCC

Rev. Tracey R. Lopez is a Palliative Care Chaplain at MedStar Washington Hospital Center. She is Board Certified by the Association of Professional Chaplains, (APC). She serves the APC on an annual basis, by mentoring and interviewing BCC candidates. Prior to coming to MWHC, Tracey worked in various healthcare organizations, including hospice, where she honed her skills in supporting patients and families dealing with chronic illnesses and end-of-life challenges. She is passionate about the promotion of Palliative Care philosophies and the focus on holistic care of every patient. As a healthcare chaplain, she believes the invitation into a person’s struggle and vulnerability while hospitalized is sacred space.

Tracey is enthusiastic about collaborating with multidisciplinary teams, seeking opportunities to advance her professional skills, while sharing her knowledge and expertise in the areas of end-of-life concerns, grief, and bereavement. Tracey is broadening her knowledge and skills in the areas of mindfulness, complimentary spiritual/emotional healing interventions, and legacy building for patients with chronic and serious illnesses. She incorporates these interventions in her work to enhance coping and meaning. In the community, Tracey is serving as the President of the Virginia Chaplains Association Board, a nonprofit, volunteer organization which promotes the continuing professional development, advocacy, and support of professional chaplains.

Alexandra McPherson

Alexandra McPherson, PharmD, MPH

Dr. McPherson joined MedStar Washington Hospital Center’s Section of Palliative Care in 2018 after completing a PGY-2 Pain Management and Palliative Care Residency at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy in Baltimore, MD and a PGY-1 Pharmacy Practice Residency at Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia, PA. She completed her undergraduate training at the University of Maryland Robert H. Smith School of Business, and then received an MPH with a dual certificate in International Health and Pharmaceutical Assessment, Management, and Policy from Boston University School of Public Health.

Dr. McPherson attended the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, where she received the Terry Paul Crovo Award in Pharmacy Practice for performance and promise to uphold the highest standards of the profession. She is an active member of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine and the Society of Palliative Care Pharmacists and has published and presented internationally on topics pertaining to pain management and palliative care.

Her academic interests include early integration of palliative care in advanced illness, navigating transitions of care at the end-of-life, community-based palliative care, and palliative care in developing countries. Her newest interest involves the integration of narrative medicine practices as a tool for reducing burnout and improving resiliency among palliative care providers.

Maximillian Stevenson

Maximillian H Stevenson, PharmD, MA

Dr. Maximillian Stevenson is a graduate of the Doctor of Pharmacy program at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. After graduating pharmacy school, Dr. Stevenson went on to complete a PGY1 Pharmacy Practice Residency at Indiana University Health – Academic Health Center in Indianapolis, Indiana and a PGY2 Pharmacy Residency in Pain Management and Palliative Care at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. While completing his pharmacy education, Dr. Stevenson earned a Master of Arts in Bioethics from The Ohio State University. Dr. Stevenson is an active member of the Society of Pain and Palliative Care Pharmacists, and is professionally interested in bioethics, palliative care, pain and symptom management, informatics, and harm reduction practices for patients struggling with substance abuse and pain.
Candice Tavares

Candice Tavares, PharmD

Dr. Tavares earned her Doctor of Pharmacy degree from Howard University School of Pharmacy. While completing her pharmacy degree, she developed an interest in palliative care and went on to complete a PGY1 Pharmacy Practice residency at Abington Memorial Hospital in Philadelphia, PA and a PGY2 residency in Pain Management and Palliative Care at the Ohio State University.

Prior to joining the Palliative Care team at Washington Hospital Center, Dr. Tavares worked as a clinical pharmacy specialist in pain management at Kaiser Permanente of the MidAtlantic States and as a clinical pharmacy specialist in pain management and palliative care for CentertLight Healthcare in New York, NY.

Christine Hallman

Christine Hallman, DNP, APRN, ACHPN, NP-C

Christine M. Hallman, earned her Bachelor of Science in Gerontology from Bowling Green State University in 2006; Master of Science in Nursing from Vanderbilt University in 2013 and her Doctor of Nursing Practice degree from Vanderbilt University in 2019.  She is a board-certified Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner as well as an Advanced Certified Hospice and Palliative Nurse (ACHPN).  Dr. Hallman’s experience as a palliative care nurse practitioner spans the care spectrum and includes providing palliative care to patients in the home, the acute care environment, the ambulatory clinic as well as within the telemedicine space.  She also has experience working as a nurse practitioner in internal medicine as well ambulatory heart failure. She is a member of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), American Association of Heart Failure Nurses (AAHFN), American College of Cardiology (ACC) and the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association (HPNA).  Dr. Hallman’s areas of interest include palliative care in heart failure, goals of care conversations, health care policy and legislation.
Deja Helm

Deja Helm, MSN, AG-ACNP

Deja Helm is a faculty nurse practitioner in the Section of Palliative Care at MedStar Washington Hospital Center. She was raised in Oregon, and obtained her undergraduate degree from Linfield University. She then went on to complete her graduate studies at Georgetown University. She is particularly motivated to lessen the burden of suffering in those with oncologic disorders. While practicing as a registered nurse, she spent time in radiation oncology, intensive-surgical oncology, hematology oncology and bone-marrow transplant. She has a deep passion for teaching and education. She served as clinical faculty at Linfield University in the baccalaureate nursing program. Currently, she also serves as a faculty member in the Bias Reduction Improvement Program at Georgetown University. Deja thoroughly enjoys music, bikram-yoga and hiking with her dog.
Katherine Kandada

Katherine Kandada, MSN RN AGACNP-BC

Kate is the nurse practitioner fellow for the 2021-2022 year. She worked as an RN on the medical intermediate care unit at Medstar Washington Hospital Center for almost 5 years. She received my AGACNP degree through University of Pennsylvania where I minored in Palliative Care.  Kate is excited to be back at the hospital where she loves taking care of patients in a different role. 

She hopes to stay in the specialty after completing the fellowship!  In her free time Kate enjoys exploring the area, trying all the coffee, and playing with her dog. 
Jessica Brennan

Jessica Brennan PA-C

Jessica is a physician assistant in the Section of Palliative Care. She previously worked as a medical assistant in orthopedic surgery and gynecology prior to receiving her master’s degree in Physician Assistant Studies from George Washington University. Jessica discovered her passion for palliative care during her time at GWU, where she was able to work with outpatient and inpatient palliative care teams at local DC hospitals. She joined Medstar upon her graduation from George Washington. She is dedicated to providing holistic and compassionate end of life care to her patients.
Paul Noufi

Paul Noufi, MD

Dr. Noufi has been serving as the medical director of the palliative medicine department at MedStar Harbor Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, for the past two years. Dr. Noufi pursued his medical degree at the Université Saint-Joseph de Beirut in Lebanon then completed a general psychiatry residency at the American University of Beirut Medical Center in Beirut, Lebanon. Dr. Noufi then pursued a fellowship in Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry at the combined program of MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and Washington Hospital Center. He then undertook a Hospice and Palliative Care fellowship at the MedStar Washington Hospital Center in Washington DC.

Dr. Noufi is an instructor of Medicine and Psychiatry at Georgetown University and serves as the chair of the Bioethics Consultation Committee at MedStar Harbor Hospital. He is also an adjunct faculty in the Medical Humanities Initiative at Georgetown University. Dr. Noufi’s primary interests revolve around the intersection of psychiatry and palliative care, with a particular focus on existential psychotherapies and their role in the context of advanced illnesses. Additionally, he actively engages in clinical education, mentoring medical students and residents, and emphasizing the importance of finding meaning and identity in their careers as physicians.

Kathryn Walker

Kathryn Walker, PharmD, BCPS, CPE

Dr. Walker serves as the MedStar Health System Senior Clinical Director for Palliative Care, where she is charged with developing clinical outcomes, research, and education. She also acts as an Associate Professor at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, contributing to both didactic and experiential pharmacy education.

Dr. Walker completed her Doctor of Pharmacy degree at Duquesne University and specialty residency at the University of Maryland. She has served as principle investigator on several grants and co-investigator on an NIH/NINR R01 grant to validate a pain assessment tool for non-communicative patients. She continues to serve as a research mentor to medical students from University of Maryland School of Medicine and Georgetown University.

Rachel Adams, MD

Dr. Adams serves as Division Chief for Palliative Care within the Department of Medicine at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital. Prior to joining Medstar Georgetown, Dr. Adams was associate director for inpatient consult services in the Department of Geriatrics and Palliative Care at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, NY, where she also completed her Palliative Medicine fellowship.

Dr. Adams is a graduate of the Boston University Medical Center Internal Medicine Residency Program in Boston, MA and received her medical degree from SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, NY. Dr. Adams is deeply committed to interdisciplinary team work, which is core to the structure of high-quality palliative care and is very proud to lead a team at Georgetown with representation from nursing, social work, medicine, and pharmacy. Dr. Adams holds a BA from Swarthmore College in English Literature.

Current Fellows

KerriAnn Boanca

KerriAnn Boanca, MD

Dr. Boanca was born and raised in Washington state and attended the University of Washington for her undergraduate degree.  After working for a nonprofit clinic in Seattle for a few years, she obtained her medical degree from Temple University. She completed Internal Medicine residency at Oregon Health & Science University, where she discovered her passion of caring for patients and families facing a serious illness. Her interests include serious illness communication, the role of spiritual care in medicine and treatment of total pain. She and her husband are active members of a wonderful local church and love exploring DC's good food, coffee, museums, and beautiful outdoors.

Trudy-Ann Brown

Trudy-Ann Brown, LGSW

Trudy-Ann was originally born in Jamaica and was raised in The Bahamas before moving to the United States in 2017. She attended Temple University and majored in Political Science and then attended Columbia University School of Social Work where she attained her MSW degree. Trudy-Ann's interest in palliative care was due to her volunteer experience at Rosary Hill Nursing Home in Westchester, New York. This experience changed the trajectory of her social work career as she realized the necessity for palliative and hospice care for individuals with life threatening and chronic illnesses. Outside of social work, Trudy-Ann enjoys reading, listening to podcasts, and exploring all a new city has to offer.

Maithri Kondapaka

Maithri Kondapaka, MD

Dr. Kondapaka grew up in Maryland and obtained her undergraduate degree from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). She subsequently went to the University of Maryland School of Medicine for medical school. She completed her residency in Internal Medicine at the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) where she also worked as a hospitalist for two years. She later completed a fellowship in Geriatric Medicine at UMMC before embarking on a fellowship in Hospice and Palliative Care at Medstar Washington Hospital. Outside of the hospital, she enjoys reading, gardening, and embroidering.

David Murray

David Murray, MD

Dr. Murray grew up in Potomac, MD and studied physics at Davidson College.  He completed a dual MD/MBA program at Tufts University School of Medicine and returned home for Family Medicine Residency, spending a year as chief resident at Inova/Fairfax Family Practice in Fairfax, VA.  Dr. Murray is planning on practicing a blend of Family Medicine and Palliative Care after fellowship at MedStar Washington Hospital Center.  His interests outside of medicine include exercising, cooking, traveling, and restoring his grandfather’s model trains.

Stephanie Teachout

Stephanie Teachout, MD

Dr. Teachout is a Hospice and Palliative Care fellow. She completed her undergraduate training at SUNY Albany before attending medical school at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. She returned to the United States to complete her residency in Internal Medicine at Upstate University Hospital. Throughout her training she has developed an interest in assisting patients and their families in navigating end-stage disease and end of life symptom management. Outside of work she enjoys hiking, rock climbing, and traveling.