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Allied Health Professionals

Ginna Gondalez

Ginna Gonzalez, DNP, ARNP went to college at University Javeriana in Bogota, Colombia. She received her Master of Science as a Primary Care Nurse Practitioner at the University of Miami. She received her Doctorate in Nursing Practice from the University of Miami. She has worked in the Neurology Department at the University of Miami for over 18 years, helping to develop and implement our multidisciplinary ALS Clinic. As Advanced Practice Director of the Kessenich Family MDA-ALS Center, she provides direct patient care and works tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure that the needs of all our ALS patients are met. Ginna also organizes many of our outreach and educational events including regular patient support group meetings, the annual Memorial Service and our annual ALS Patient Symposium

Justine Allen

Justine Allen, MS, CCC-SLP, is a Speech Language Pathologist in the Department of Otolaryngology and at the Kessenich Family ALS Center. She earned her Master of Science in Biobehavioral Science, Speech-Language Pathology from Columbia University. She completed her clinical fellowship at University of Miami Hospital and Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center. She has a special interest in the assessment and treatment of oropharyngeal swallowing, voice and communication disorders in patients with neurogenic disorders and neurodegenerative disease, such as ALS.

Ramiro Tavel

Ramiro Tavel, RRT, is a Registered Respiratory Therapist working in the Department of Respiratory Therapy at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. He previously worked as a critical care supervisor for 10+ years at the Palm Spring General Hospital where he assisted with bronchoscopies and ventilator management. He is now the Director of Respiratory Care at the same hospital and he is in charge of JCAHO and ACHA inspections. He has extensive experience with non-invasive and invasive ventilator support as well as taking care of ALS patients.

Elizabeth McNamara

Elizabeth McNamara, MS, RD,obtained her undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan and her Masters of Science in Dietetics and Nutrition from Florida International University in 2010. Since then she has worked at the Palace Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center, at Jackson Memorial Hospital, and for the past four years at the University of Miami Hospital. She has extensive experience with tube feeding and altered consistency diets. For over two years she has worked enthusiastically with our multi-disciplinary ALS team to ensure that every patient has a plan to optimize their nutrition.

Kayla Chomko, DPT

Kayla Chomko, DPT, received her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida in 2005 in the area of Health Science and continued on to earn her Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from the University of Miami in 2008. Since graduation, Dr. Chomko has focused on the treatment of varying neurological disorders, specifically working with patients and loved ones affected by Parkinson’s disease and ALS. Along with being the lead physical therapist for patients receiving care at the Kessenich Family ALS center, she also assists with the wheelchair clinic that is run bi-weekly at the center, which services patients with varying diagnoses including ALS. In addition, Kayla is a voluntary adjunct assistant professor at the University of Miami Department of Physical Therapy.

Barbara J. Simmonds

Barbara J. Simmonds, Ph. D. received her degree in Psychology with a specialty in Health Psychology and Grief Counseling from Nova Southeastern University. Dr. Simmonds is the psychologist at St. Catherine’s Rehabilitation Hospital and has been with the Multidisciplinary Clinic for ALS starting in 2005.

Adriana Lopez

Adriana Lopez, OT
Adriana graduated as an Occupational Therapist in Caracas Venezuela in 1987. Worked in “Hospital Universitario” de Caracas until she Moved to Houston, Tx in 1989. Started working in an Early Childhood Intervention Program in 1995 until 2005 when she moved to Miami, FL. She have been working in Mercy Hospital in Miami since 2006 as an acute OT and NICU therapist in parallel on providing Home health services with different diagnosis including ALS. She became a Certified Lymphedema specialist in 2007. Recently she joined the University of Miami ALS clinic and she is the occupational therapist of the team.

Ashley Ortega, DPT

Ashley Ortega, LPN
Ashley graduated as a Practical Nurse in Miami in 1999. She worked as a case manager and home health nurse specializing in pediatric and rehabilitative care for 12 years. In 2013 she began working at the University of Miami in the pediatric Infectious Disease Clinic. More recently, in February 2015 she joined the ALS Kessenich Family ALS team coordinating patient care.

Andrea Aarons

Andrea Aarons, LCSW
Andrea has a Masters Degree in Social Work from F.I.U. She has 17 years experience working at Jackson Memorial Hospital in the acute Rehabilitation Unit with patients suffering from Traumatic Brain Injury, Spinal Cord Injury, Neuro Muscular diseases, CVA, and ALS. Her prior experience included working with the Juvenile Court for the placement of neglected and abused children within the child welfare system. Andrea has been working with ALS patients in the Kessenich Family ALS Clinic for the past year assessing their social issues and referring them to community resources.

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