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, DC.

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 completed training in Internal Medicine at Jacobi Medical Center in the Primary Care Track, learning to care for complex patients. He then completed fellowships in Palliative Medicine and Medical Ethics at Northwell Health (formerly North Shore-LIJ), along with a certificate course in Clinical Bioethics at the Hofstra School of Law.

Dr. Pottash serves as the Program Director for the MedStar-Georgetown Interprofessional Palliative Medicine Fellowship Program and is an Associate Professor of Medicine at Georgetown University.  His interests are patient perceptions of chronic illness, advanced shared decision-making, clinical ethics, and palliative care.

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

Aparna Desai

Aparna Desai, DO, MPH

Dr. Desai is a faculty physician in the Section of Palliative Care. She completed her undergraduate studies at Johns Hopkins University and earned her Master of Public Health degree from the University of Southern California. While at USC, she interned with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, focusing on health education and outreach among underserved populations.

She attended medical school at Touro University, Nevada, going on to complete her residency training in Internal Medicine at UCSF- Fresno. Dr. Desai trained in Hospice and Palliative Medicine at the University of California, San Diego. She is passionate about medical education and has a special interest in promoting clinician wellbeing and resilience. Her interests also include bereavement care, improving access to palliative care, and exploring the role of narrative medicine as a therapeutic tool for clinicians.

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, DC (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.

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 Johnson, MDiv

Rev. Laura Johnson serves as Palliative Care Chaplain. She completed her Master of Divinity and certificate in Theology, Medicine, and Culture from Duke Divinity School. Prior to joining MWHC, she completed a year of residency in Clinical Pastoral Education at Duke University Hospital, where she developed a deep passion for providing spiritual and emotional support to people experiencing serious illness and end of life.

Desiring to further her skills and passion, she completed a second year of residency in Clinical Pastoral Education at the University of Virginia Health System, specializing in palliative care, oncology, and geriatrics. She is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ.

Anne Keleman

Anne Kelemen, LICSW, ACHP-SW, Associate Program Director (Social Work)

Anne Kelemen joined the MedStar Washington Hospital Center Section of Palliative Care in 2014. In 2015, she was named MedStar Health Palliative Care Clinician of the Year. Prior to joining the Hospital Center staff, Ms. Kelemen instituted the first palliative care service at MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland.

She first developed an interest in palliative care while a hospice volunteer in Maryland, and then received her Master’s in Social Work from the University of Maryland and a post-master’s certificate in End-of-Life Care from the Smith College School of Social Work.

Ms. Kelemen continues to facilitate support groups for bereaved family members and for teens and young adults. An Assistant Professor of Medicine at Georgetown University Medical Center, her research interests include the intersection between language and medicine, intimacy and chronic illness, and spirituality at the end of life.

Caroll Foley

Carroll Foley, LGSW

Carroll Foley is a Palliative Care Social Worker at Medstar Washington Hospital, licensed in the District of Columbia.  She received her master’s degree in social work at New York University’s Silver School of Social Work and is a Fellow with the Zelda Foster Studies Program in Palliative and End of Life Care.  Carroll’s particular interests lie at the intersection of trauma and the treatment of life limiting illness.  Prior to becoming a social worker, Carroll was a corporate financial executive in the insurance industry and leverages her background in mathematics and statistics as an active contributor to the palliative care team’s research efforts.
 
Nina LaIng

Nina Laing, LGSW

Nina Laing joined Medstar Washington Hospital in 2017, initially working as a primary Social Worker in the intensive care unit where she received the Chief Nurse Executive Award in 2018. 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 writing addressing the role of social work in palliative care and has an interest in healthcare disparities.

Deborah Lewis

Deborah Lewis, LGSW

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.

Alexandra McPherson

Alexandra McPherson, PharmD, MPH, Pharmacist

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 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, 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, 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.
Michelle Wade

Michelle Wade, MSN, AGACNP-BC

Michelle Wade MSN, AGACNP-BC is originally from Ohio, but also spent time on the East and West coasts. She has experience in emergency medicine, home health, hospice, palliative, and recently, neurosurgery ICU. While working on the west coast providing palliative and hospice care, she developed a strong passion for providing physical, spiritual, and emotional care to those facing chronic illness. Michelle graduated with her MSN from The George Washington University in 2019 and enjoys returning to the DC area.

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.
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

Andrea Arango, MD

Dr. Arango grew up in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and attended medical school in her hometown at Universidad Nacional Pedro Henriquez Urena (UNPHU). After completing a series of medical clerkships in New York City she decided to further her career in the United States and completed her Internal Medicine residency at Albert Einstein College of Medicine-Jacobi Medical Center. In the setting of a bustling city and an even more bustling hospital, she was able to tend to a diverse patient population with challenging family dynamics and there her love for Palliative Care was born and subsequently grew. Dr. Arango is fascinated by how cultural values affect medical decision-making and also enjoys connecting with patients on a human level to explore what makes them unique. She is mostly drawn to inpatient Palliative Care consult services but is looking forward to acquiring expertise with inpatient and outpatient hospice management. In her spare time she is passionate about self-care which takes form of crossfit training and adequate skin care. She is a fan of concerts, musicals, comedy clubs and makes it a habit to visit as many varied restaurants as possible. 

Jim Conti, MD

Dr. Conti is originally from northern New Jersey. He received his Medical Degree from Temple University’s St. Luke’s Campus in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. He completed a residency in Family Medicine with MedStar Georgetown/Washington Hospital Center and was fortunate to be able to stay in DC for fellowship. His interests are innarrative medicine, the intersection of primary care and palliative care, as well as providing care for underserved populations. Outside of medicine, he enjoys running, watching and playing soccer and basketball, playing the drums and going to concerts and stand-up comedy. 

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. 

Brienne Keyloun, MD

Dr. Keyloun grew up in North Carolina and relocated to Washington, DC for medical school and Internal Medicine residency at Georgetown University Hospital. She most recently served as the chief resident for outpatient medicine where she developed an interest in early Palliative Care integration. Dr. Keyloun is drawn to Palliative Care’s multidisciplinary approach to meeting the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of those with serious illnesses. Her interests also include identification of moral distress, and wellness initiatives for healthcare providers and trainees. Outside of the hospital, Dr. Keyloun enjoys exploring national parks and DC’s culturally rich food scene. 

Elizabeth Malone, LGSW

Elizabeth Malone is a Palliative Care Social Work Fellow at Medstar Washington Hospital Center, licensed in the District of Columbia. She received her master’s degree from Fordham University in 2021, with a specialization in Palliative Care. Elizabeth completed her advanced field placement at Danbury Hospital in Danbury, CT, working on their interdisciplinary Palliative Care Team. Before returning to school, Elizabeth worked in college and graduate school admissions and counseling and obtained a Positive Psychology certification. She also was a hospice volunteer and always felt drawn to working with people facing life-limiting illnesses and end of life.  

Elizabeth is interested in helping patients, and their families navigate the complex issues while facing serious illness and end-of-life. Her particular interest is in caregiving challenges and the opportunity for growth and resilience for both the patient and family.

Stefanie Milner, MD

Dr. Stefanie Milner grew up in Rockville, MD. She attended undergrad at the University of Rochester, where she majored in Anthropology and learned about death and dying in different cultures (the first sign that Palliative Care was the path she would ultimately pursue) followed by medical school at the University of Maryland. She completed her Internal Medicine residency training at Loyola in the suburbs of Chicago, where she also served as a Chief Resident with a focus on Quality Improvement and Patient Safety. During her training she found purpose and fulfillment in being able to help patients and families navigate the challenges that come with severe illness and end of life. She is excited to learn more about the different facets of Palliative Care, learn from her inter-disciplinary colleagues, and continue to explore the overlapping fields of Palliative Care and Quality Improvement. Outside of the hospital she can be found hiking, playing volleyball, playing board games, and juggling.