Medical Services

Palliative Care Team

Serious illness creates tremendous challenges for patients and for the people around them. Palliative care expands traditional medical treatment by using an interdisciplinary structure to deliver holistic care to people with advanced disease. Our goals include optimizing patients’ symptom control and functional ability, helping with medical decision-making, and enhancing quality of life for patients and their families.

The palliative care team at Barnes-Jewish Hospital consists of a chaplain, a social worker, two nurse practitioners, and two physicians. Each team member brings years of experience in palliative care, hospice care, and traditional medical care. Team members combine their expertise to provide comprehensive management of the physical, psychological, and spiritual issues related to a patient’s illness. We work closely with Washington University physicians and other health-care providers to clarify goals and to coordinate workable plans of care.

Our team members include:

Maria Dans, MD

Assistant Professor, Internal Medicine 
Clinical Director, Palliative Care Services
Dr. Dans graduated from Washington University School of Medicine in 1999. She completed residency in Internal Medicine, followed by fellowships in Palliative Medicine and Critical Care Medicine at Stanford University Medical Center in California. Dr. Dans is board-certified in Internal Medicine, Critical Care Medicine, and Hospice and Palliative Medicine.
Prior to working at Washington University and Barnes-Jewish Hospital, Dr. Dans worked as a surgical intensive care attending at Washington Hospital Center in Washington, DC. She also serves as an associate editor for the American College of Surgeons ethics webpage.

Kathleen Garcia, MD

Assistant Professor, Internal Medicine
Dr. Garcia graduated from the Harvard Medical School and completed residency in Internal Medicine at Jewish Hospital in Saint Louis. She is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Hospice and Palliative Medicine.
Prior to joining the BJH Palliative Care Service, Dr. Garcia had an established primary care Internal Medicine practice in St. Louis. She has also served as an attending physician at Washington University School of Medicine, and as a previous medical director of Preferred Hospice of Missouri.

Benita Austin, MSN, APRN-BC, ANP

Nurse Practitioner
Ms. Austin holds a Master’s Degree in Nursing from St. Louis University and has a post master’s certificate in adult medicine. She is board certified in adult medicine and has worked as a Nurse Practitioner in medical oncology at Missouri Baptist Medical Center in St Louis, Missouri, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland, and the Siteman Cancer Center in St Louis, Missouri.

Ms Austin’s nursing experience includes gynecology-oncology, neurology / neurosurgery critical care, and bone marrow transplant. She has also served as an administrator and Nurse Practitioner in neurology at the Memory Diagnostic Center at Washington University School of Medicine.

Teri Novak, MSW, LCSW, ACHP-SW

Social Worker 
Ms. Novak graduated with a Masters in Social Work from the Brown School of Social Work at Washington University. She has more than 20 years of experience working in mental health, substance abuse, geriatrics and family therapy, and she is the first social worker in the state of Missouri to achieve Advanced Certification in Hospice and Palliative Care. Ms. Novak is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and has worked as a medical social worker with neurology, oncology, and transplant services.

Julie Berger, D. Min.

The Rev. Julia Allen Berger, D. Min., BCC obtained a Masters in Divinity at the Yale Divinity School in New Haven, Connecticut. She completed her Doctorate in Ministry and Pastoral Counseling at Eden Theological Seminary in St. Louis. Rev. Berger has worked in Oncology since 1992 and leads Bereavement, Spirituality, and Compassion Fatigue support groups within Barnes-Jewish Hospital. She is a member of the Barnes-Jewish Hospital Ethics Committee, and she facilitates classes on issues of Religion, Spirituality, and Health for students at Washington University School of Medicine. A minister of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A, she also teaches and leads worship within the greater St. Louis community.

Jonathan Hanson, ANP-BC

Nurse Practitioner 
Mr. Hanson graduated from the University of Missouri, Columbia with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. He served in the US Army Reserves as a Medical Supply Specialist for 6 years, and then spent 5 years working as a staff nurse and charge nurse on the Bone Marrow and Stem Cell Transplant Unit at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. He recently completed his Masters Degree in Nursing at the University of Missouri, and became board-certified as an Adult Nurse Practitioner through the American Nurses Credentialing Center.

For more information about Palliative Care Services at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, please call 314-747-2786.

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