Meet the Team!
Lauren Welch M.D. I feel incredibly honored and excited to join the family at H.I.P! My medical education is rooted in a holistic understanding of the mind and body. Before entering medical school, I grew up in a very small town in Ohio and attended The Ohio State University where I majored in English Literature and studied in depth the human experience through the voices of famous American writers and poets.
After the passing of my father to cancer, I knew I wanted to combine my love of the arts and sciences in order to light the path of healing for others who were experiencing pain and suffering. I took part in the creation of a course called Narrative Medicine in which, under the guidance of principles originally formulated by Rita Charon, MD, of Columbia University, I sought to better understand and bridge communication barriers between physicians and their families. I learned that the mind and body are intimately connected, which has only been confirmed time and time again in my medical school and pediatric residency training. I have discovered that some of my greatest lessons in healing have not come from late nights spent reading journals or attending lectures, but rather from a simple moment in time spent silent next to others.
I went on to complete medical school at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, followed by residency at the University of Colorado SOM Pediatric Medical Program in Aurora, CO. Throughout this time, my interest in holistic practice has only strengthened, as has my special passion for cutting edge science of nutrition and exercise. I am excited to work in an environment where I am able to embrace the pillars of both conventional, evidence-based medicine and traditional holistic therapies, i.e. food as medicine, mindfulness, biofeedback, meditation, just to name a few.
In my free time, you will find me gobbling up as many books as I can find, going for long trail runs, hiking or skiing with friends. I am also a member of the Native Plant Society and love searching for wildflowers in Colorado’s big backyard!
Carina Pener Kugelmas, M.D. (Pediatric Locum) Dr. Kugelmas graduated from University of Southern California School of Medicine and started her Pediatric training at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland. She then joined her husband at University of Kentucky to finish her third year of residency. Dr. Kugelmas has been practicing Pediatrics in the Denver area since 2000 and recently completed a clinical fellowship in Nutrition here at Children’s Hospital Colorado. She enjoys being able to provide continuity of care for children and adolescents in the absence of their regular provider. Dr. Kugelmas and her husband have three teenage daughters and they enjoy hiking and skiing in Colorado as well as traveling when possible to see new places and experience new cultures.
Molly Gilpin, PA-C, IBCLC
I have been a physician assistant since 2002 working in family medicine and then orthopaedic trauma. I found my way to pediatrics in 2008 and I don’t think there could be a better fit, because I’m really just a big kid.
In 2012 I went on to get my International Board Certification in Lactation Consulting (IBCLC) because I found there was a steep drop off in breastfeeding rates between the 2 week and 2 month well child exam. I have loved adding this component of mom/baby care to my scope of practice. I love being witness to the moment when mom and baby “click” while breastfeeding, it is absolutely beautiful.
My approach to pediatric medicine is simple, I want to know the whole story. No patient is a list of recent symptoms and I firmly believe that the patient or parent will tell me absolutely everything I need to know, because details matter. It may take a bit more time, but it’s just good medicine.
I love the flexibility of working part time, so when I’m not in the office you will usually find me out with my family, running, hiking, biking and baking...we’re always baking. I am constantly seeking balance in my professional and personal life. Caring for others is something that truly feeds my soul and I feel lucky to have found a practice that allows and honors this desire for balance.
Kristen Freedman, CPNP
The nursing model of healthcare is integrative by nature. As a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP), I approach medicine from the whole person, whole family and whole community perspective.
I am passionate about many parts of pediatric primary care and I deeply believe in the long-term benefits of the primary care home. Because the science of medicine changes and evolves, I utilize current evidence-based guidelines as the foundation of my practice as a pediatric provider. I also believe each child is unique and I value working with families to create individual, safe and effective plans of care.
Originally a Pennsylvania native, I moved Southeast to Maryland to work and train at Johns Hopkins Hospital and Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing. After moving West to Colorado with my husband Chad and our pup Tula, I feel honored and humbled to be joining a practice whose values so closely match my own here at Highlands Integrative Pediatrics.
Working with children and families has been the greatest honor in my life. I am excited to meet you and work with you toward the well-being of your child.
Abbie Foust, M.D.
Becoming a pediatrician is a dream come true for me, and I'm thankful to have found a clinic that emphasizes holistic, integrative care. As someone who loves yoga, believes strongly in nutrition, and practices meditation and mindfulness, I'm thrilled to have found a clinic that offeres such a wide variety of therapies to its patients.
A little bit about me...I'm a Colorado native, born and raised in Denver. I love being active, and from an early age, recognized the importance of physical activity in overall health and wellness. I worked as a camp counselor for several years, and chose to go to medical school because of the joy I found in helping children thrive. I attended Denver East High School, Vanderbilt University, University of Colorado Medical School, and did my pediatric residency at Children's Hospital Colorado. In 2018, I completed a fellowship in Integrative Medicine through the University of Arizona. I am a kids yoga instructor and have training in pediatric mind-body medicine. My husband, Andy, and I were married in 2013 and together enjoy exploring the mountains and traveling.
I am inspired by the art of medicine and place great value on the connection we build as provider and patient. My style is warm, nurturing, playful, humorous, honest and open. The best part of my job is getting to know my patients and their families, supporting and empowering them to create wellness in their lives.
I've had the privilege of working in medical settings around the world, including two years in Nicaragua and Ecuador. I am fluent in Spanish, and consider my time abroad incredibly influential. Having witnessed advanced illness, I have profound gratitude and appreciation for conventional medicine and its ability to treat. Additionally, I had the honor of learning from traditional healers and medicine men. Centuries-old healing arts brought relief to the mind, body, and spirit. I recognize that wellness is not just the absence of disease and place great importance on prevention. As a pediatrician, I aim to combine modalities and offer a holistic approach that blends complementary and alternative medicine therapies with conventional care in a safe and effective manner.
Stacey Pfannenstiel, PA-C
My journey began as a Physical Therapist. I specialized in Spinal Cord Injury and had the good fortune to be part of the Craig Hospital family. I learned many valuable lessons about the human spirit, perseverance, and human connection on the soul level. After 13 years as a Physical Therapist, my life took a new direction that led me to the Physician Assistant program at UCHSC, where I fell in love with the myriad of children I had the pleasure to care for through my clinical years.
As a Pediatric PA, I am blessed to have the opportunity to connect with parents and their children from infancy into young adulthood. There are many ways to parent and one of my jobs is to be an active listener and help guide you through this amazing thing called parenting in a style that is unique and preferable to your family. I believe the best health care involves many facets and that an integrative practice has the benefit of traditional medicine intertwined with a more natural approach that allows our bodies and minds to assist in the healing process.
I have been practicing as a Pediatric PA in the Denver area since 2007 at University of Colorado birth center and in private practice. I am blessed to have two children , Fin and Seri, and a loving husband, Dan, who are my greatest teachers. They have taught me the true meaning of partnership, laughter, love, and gratitude. I am excited to be a part of the Highlands Integrative Pediatric family and I am honored to care for you children!
Bryan Kono, M.D.
I have gratitude for many things. So many of those things can be traced back to the idea of family. Growing up in California, one of four children in a loving family, provides the foundation. The family that my wife,Tara, and I have been blessed to watch evolve as our daughters continue to grow, provides the daily reminders of what we have to be thankful for. And as I watch the H.I.P family of colleagues and patients take shape and grow, I have a vibrant pediatric practice family to provide me with a new sense of gratitude. Our daughters came to us through the foster to adopt program. They have made me a far more effective pediatrician for all types of familes.
I am interested in the power of connection between health care providers and their patients. I believe that true connection is the best way to optimize what a physician can offer their patients. My training began at the University of Chicago where I attended medical school and began to learn more about integrating conventional and natural approaches to health. My pediatric residency at Stanford's Lucile Packard Children's Hospital also helped to solidify my belief that the best health care takes advantage of many different systems of thinking about one's health; mind, body and spirit.
I have been practicing pediatrics in Denver since 2007 and continued to learn from my patients and colleagues about how to hone that craft more. I love the breadth of experience that pediatrics provides from the newborn period through young adulthood. I believe that our mind can help us in many ways and have seen that through teaching patients self-hypnosis and biofeedback. It is my feeling that western medicine has provided many incredible advances and that we can utilize all that it has to offer. At the same time we can benefit from the reminder that our body has an amazing ability to heal itself and that there are many ways to access that healing. And, that the best path for many of us includes both conventional medicine and natural approaches. This is why we have taken the path of an "integrative" practice.
I remain rooted in my medical training and as an Assistant Clinical Professor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, I continue to stay involved with teaching medical students and residents.