Founder, Neurologist & Program Director
Dr. Kluger is a Colorado
native who completed an undergraduate degree in psychology, medical school, and
neurology residency at the University of Colorado before going to the
University of Florida to complete fellowships in movement disorders and behavioral
neurology. He is currently an associate professor of neurology and the director
of the neurology supportive and palliative care program at the University of
Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. In addition to seeing patients in the
supportive and palliative care clinic, he directs a very active research
program working towards improving therapies for non-motor symptoms (e.g.
fatigue, dementia) and improving standards of care for patients and caregivers
through supportive and palliative care models. One of Dr. Kluger’s
primary beliefs is that he treats people not diseases. He believe that
everyone has unique perspectives, priorities, strengths, and weaknesses that
are important to understand in working towards their health goals. Knowing
that good communication is critical to this relationship, he aims to really
hear patients and to communicate his thoughts in a way that is understandable.
In accordance with that approach, he is open to admitting when he does not have
the answers. As the director of the neuropalliative care program it is his goal
to ensure the care provided is always patient and family-centered, meaning that
the patient and family directs the goals and plans of care. In his spare
time he enjoys reading, creative writing, music, lifting weights, meditation,
and professional wrestling. He volunteers his time working with the
American Academy of Neurology, Davis Phinney Foundation, Parkinson's
Association of the Rockies and Huntington's Disease Society, and frequently
gives talks to support groups for Parkinson’s disease and other patient
Christina Vaughan joined the team in August, 2017, and is a
Board certified neurologist who is trained and previously practiced in Movement
Disorders. After several years in practice, her love of neurology grew but she
strived to practice in a more comprehensive way. After watching close family
members live with neurodegenerative disease, she understood that these
conditions affect patients more than just physically, and affect the whole
family. In order to enhance her skills in caring for patients and families in a
more supportive way, she completed a year-long fellowship in Palliative
Medicine. She was delighted to gain more in-depth experience in management of
not only the physical, but also the psychological, spiritual, and social
symptoms - in an effort to optimize quality of life for patients and families.
She is particularly interested in self-image in the face of illness, and in
getting to know patients in the context of their lives, rather than only from
the perspective of their diagnoses. She is thrilled to have the opportunity to
combine her passion for neurology with the palliative care approach, and
grateful to be working with an outstanding team. A native of Buffalo, NY, she
is no stranger to winter weather and has been enjoying exploring the beautiful
outdoors of Colorado.
Julie has been working as a Physician
Assistant in the fields of neurosurgery and neurology since 1997. She has
gained experience in caring for brain tumors, spine disease, movement
disorders, deep brain stimulation management, multiple sclerosis and
neuro-behavioral disorders. She is
currently in inaugural class of Master's of Science in Palliative Medicine
program at University of Colorado Graduate School. In her past, she has
experienced being a caregiver in her family of origin when 3 members suffered
progressive genetic neurologic disease.
She has a hard earned passion for providing excellent personalized care
for patients and all of their family members who cope with neurologic disease.
During free time, Julie enjoys traveling to interesting places with her husband
and two children or going for hikes and walks with her Goldendoodle.
Wendy Cernik RN, BSN Nurse
Wendy Cernik, RN, BSN is the movement disorders nurse for the
Neuroloy Department at UCH. She is also the nurse for the palliative care team
in the Neurology Department with past experience as a home hospice nurse/care
manager. Her passion is palliative care, striving to find ways for the
physical, spiritual, emotional, and home care needs of the patient and their
family to be met.
Cari Friedman LCSW, Social Worker
For the past twenty-five years, Cari Friedman,
a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, has helped patients and families who
have chronic neurological conditions. She has been with the University of
Colorado Health's movement disorders, palliative and supportive care
clinic since its inception in 2015. She is a native Coloradan who likes to go to the Colorado
Rockies baseball games with her family. Cari likes to travel with her husband
and son to different places and experience the different cultures.
Ryan Khan MDiv, BCC Chaplain
Ryan has been working in health care chaplaincy for more than
a decade in both hospital and hospice work and has been active in ministry
since 1996. He grew up in diverse inner-city Philadelphia, moved to Denver
in 2009, and considers himself easy going, down-to-earth, and practical.
Ryan is motivated to care for others, providing reflective and supportive
conversation, encouragement, and comfort for those who are hurting, confused,
suffering, and/or simply desire to make sense of what is happening to
them. An essential aspect of Ryan’s philosophy of spiritual care is to
meet people where they are, respecting personal beliefs and values, whether
spirituality, religion, and/or faith are important, somewhat important, or not
at all important for you. Ryan is married to Ishtar, a registered nurse,
and they have two boys, Silas and Seth. He enjoys hanging out with his
family, spending time with their family dog Gaia (Texas heeler), and since
arriving in Colorado learning to explore the great outdoors.
Alan Hall, Intake & Access Coordinator
Alan Alan joined the Neurosciences team in 2013 after working
many years as a sales and marketing executive in the home building industry and
as a licensed Independent Real Estate Broker. In 2011 he became a care provider
for a parent for the second time; first his Father, who has long since passed,
and now his Mother, both from neurological disorders. It began a shift in
thinking and priorities for Alan which precipitated the change of careers. Diagnosed with a neurological disorder of his
own 20 years ago, and learning of other relatives having had neurological
issues, he decided he needed to know more, and do more to learn all that he
could about these types of illnesses and how to better deal with the many complicated
aspects that affect the family nucleus of those afflicted with these diseases.
With these personal experiences he hopes to be able to bring, empathy,
compassion, and a sense of caring to those families that are going through
their own unique challenges in life. He enjoys traveling, making art, and
spending time with his wife, son, daughter, and grandsons, especially at the
cabin in the mountains!
Candace Ellman, MA, Administrative Assistant
Alan Candace joined the University of Colorado in April, 2016. Prior to joining the Neurology team, she worked at the Mother's Milk Bank as a production manager and at Children's Hospital Colorado as a Project Technician. Watching her mother and grandmother experience cognitive decline from dementia has inspired her to learn more about how we can prepare for the effects these illnesses have on indiviuals and families. Originally from Long Island, Candace has been a Denver resident since 1990. She received her BA from Oberlin College and her MA from the University of Denver. She plays the oboe in local community ensembles and enjoys spending time with her two children in the great outdoors.