Palliative Care Team

Meet the Palliative Care Team

Joshua Croen, MD

Division Chief, Palliative Medicine

Josh CroenDr. Croen has been a member of the medical staff at Hartford Hospital since joining the Division of Palliative Medicine in November 2012. He is board certified in Internal Medicine, Hospice and Palliative Medicine, and Hospice Medical Director. Dr. Croen currently serves as the interim medical director for the Palliative Care Consult Service. He is a member of AAHPM, American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine. As part of the hospital’s teaching tradition, Dr. Croen is actively involved in education initiatives for residents and interns.

Dr. Croen earned his medical degree at SUNY Downstate, and went on to complete his internal medicine residency at North Shore Long Island Jewish Hospital in Manhasset, New York. Dr. Croen went on to complete a Palliative Care Fellowship there as well.

Learn more about Joshua Croen, MD

Mary T. Brennan, MS, APRN, ACNP-BC

Mary BrennanWorking with adults in the acute care setting, Mary has been able to diversify her career with over 18 years of experience spanning cardiology, critical care, and neurology. She recently joined the palliative care team at Hartford Hospital in 2019, and is a member of the Hospice and Palliative Nursing Association (HPNA). Mary prides herself on her passion for patient and family advocacy, especially during end of life transitions. With her vast career experience, she is able to serve her patients from a truly holistic perspective.

Mary earned her Bachelors of Science in Nursing from Elms College in Chicopee, MA. She went on to earn her Master of Science nursing degree from the University of Connecticut, and is board certified as an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner.

Nicole Dunn, APRN, ACNP-BC

Nicole DunnNicole joined the Palliative Care Consult service at Hartford Hospital in 2018 as a Nurse Practitioner specializing in providing quality palliative care for our patients and families. With more than 15 years of experience as a nurse practitioner, she has practiced in a broad range of settings including critical care, chronic disease management, long-term care and hospice. Ms. Dunn extends her expertise in palliative care as faculty for the ELNEC (End of Life Nursing Education Consortium) education program. Ms. Dunn is a member of HPNA: Hospice and Palliative Nurse Association. She also serves as the Chairperson for the Office of Advance Practice, Volunteer and Philanthropy Committee.

Nicole attended the University of Connecticut to earn both her Bachelor of Science and Master of Science nursing degrees, and is Board Certified as an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner and Acute Certified Hospice and Palliative Care Nurse.

Katherine Lepak, MSW, LCSW, APHSW-C

Katherine LepakKatherine "Katie" Lepak is a licensed clinical social worker, with special interest in grief and bereavement and supporting young children through illness, grief and loss. During her early career, Ms. Lepak worked as a licensed clinical social worker for Connecticut Hospice and at Davita Dialysis, both informing her work in palliative care. Ms. Lepak has served as a Social Worker on the Palliative Care team at Hartford Hospital since 2015. In addition to her inpatient clinical work, she serves as co-facilitator of the hospital based bereavement support group, as well as faculty for the ELNEC (End of Life Nursing Education Consortium) education program. Ms. Lepak is a member of SWHPN: Social Work Hospice & Palliative Care Network and also sits on the CT Department of Public Health Palliative Care Advisory Committee.

Katie earned her undergraduate degree in psychology from Colby College in 2004 and her Master’s Degree in Social Work from Boston College in 2006. She completed a post graduate fellowship program at Boston Children’s Hospital, in collaboration with Harvard Medical School and Dana Farber Cancer Institute, in 2007. Ms. Lepak completed specialty certification in Palliative Care, as one of the first cohorts in the field, in 2019.

Sara Z. Morrison, MSW, LCSW, APHSW-C

Sara MorrisonSara is a licensed clinical social worker who entered the healthcare field in 2005. Ms. Morrison began her career in outpatient psychiatry before transitioning to inpatient general medicine at New York Presbyterian Hospital, then holding a position in their kidney transplant program. She later relocated to Los Angeles and practiced in Cedars-Sinai Medical Center’s heart transplant/mechanical circulatory support program. Ms. Morrison transitioned to Palliative Care in 2016 after moving to Connecticut, and has since obtained specialty certification. She is a member of SWHPN: Social Work Hospice & Palliative Care Network.

Sara graduated from Drew University in 2001 with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. She graduated with a Master’s degree in Social Work in 2005 from Columbia University School of Social Work. Ms. Morrison completed specialty certification in Palliative Care, as one of the first cohorts in the field, in 2019. When she is not working, Sara enjoys running, yoga, reading, and spending time with her husband, daughter and son.

Carol Strycharz, BSN, RN, MPH

Carol StrycharzCarol has been a Registered Nurse at Hartford Hospital for more than 35 years. Ms. Strycharz’ first nursing position was in medical oncology at Hartford Hospital, caring for oncology and HIV patients. While at graduate school, she interned in Washington, D.C., reviewing hospital epidemiology programs across the country, and went on to work at Midstate Medical Center as a Nurse Epidemiologist for five years, active in HIV care for the Meriden area. She returned to Hartford Hospital in 1993 to work as a bedside nurse and clinical leader in the Department of Medicine, where she practiced for 19 years. Ms. Strycharz joined the Palliative Care Consult Service in June, 2012, practicing as a clinical nurse leader. Her greatest joy is having the opportunity to sit at the patient’s bedside, listening to the patient’s and family’s story.

Originally from Connecticut, Carol earned her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Fairfield University, and went on to earn her Master’s in Public Health from Yale University in 1988.

Palliative Care