Our Staff

Meet the Hospital Staff

Kristin Leone

Kristin Leone

Hospital Manager

Kristin is Birch Island's fear-free certified Hospital Manager. She is instrumental in keeping our practice running efficiently while sharing her kindness & humor with both staff and clients. Born and raised in Boston, MA, Kristin moved to Jacksonville in 2004 which is when she found her passion for helping animals as well as their owners. Since then, she has been in the veterinary field in various capacities. Kristin combines her managerial, administrative, customer service and animal care skills together to provide exceptional service to our clients & patients while overseeing daily hospital functions. In addition to her important role as office manager, Kristin has a full family life including a wonderful fiancé and five beautiful children, two of which are one-year-old twins! Of course, her family wouldn't be complete without Karma and Cash, the Pitbulls. With what little free time she has, a couple of Kristin's favorite activities are going to the zoo & swimming.

Hayley Hall

Hayley Hall

Technician Manager

Hayley is our fear-free certified Technician Manager at Birch Island. She was born and raised in Jacksonville Florida and has been working in the veterinary field for over 11 years. Starting as a kennel tech at 16 where she discovered her passion for animal science, becoming a technician at the age of 18. She has a background in general practice and emergency medicine. Critical patient care is her favorite part about her job and she loves educating our pet parents to ensure their loved ones have the best quality of life. Hayley has a special interest in dental surgery and completed her veterinary dental certification in 2010. She currently lives in St Augustine with her boyfriend and their yellow Labrador named “Buck”. Hayley has worked closely with Dr. Dee for the last 6 years, and she is very excited to continue this journey with her and her team at Birch Island. She is currently pursuing her bachelor's degree in human nursing as well. She has a passion for science and nursing those in need back to health, animals and humans alike!

Kelly Axtell

Kelly Axtell

Veterinary Technician

A Florida native, Kelly is one of our fear-free certified veterinary technicians with a diverse background in animal care. She has practiced in both general practice and specialty hospitals for the past 5 years. Passionate about conservation, Kelly got hands-on experience working with wildlife such as rhinos (see pic) at White Oak Conservation in Yulee. Her goal is to continue assisting in those efforts as well as having her own farm one day. Kelly has three cats and enjoys traveling and going on adventures with her husband. We are lucky to have such a dedicated and enthusiastic animal advocate on our team.

Leslie Thieme

Leslie Thieme

Veterinary Technician

Leslie is a Florida native, having been born here in Jacksonville. She spent some time in Pennsylvania, before moving back here in 2000. Having a strong interest in science, Leslie graduated from Keiser University as a Radiologic Technologist as well as Sanford Brown where she became a certified veterinary technician. She has now worked with animals for over 15 years including five as a vet tech. Leslie has a large family of animals including Lycan, a Boxer mix and Minion, a teacup Chihuahua along with two cats, Asia and Thriller, as well as two ferrets. Rounding off the pack is Rowdy, a quarter horse Leslie takes great pride in. When not with animals, Leslie can be found combing the beach or thrift stores and is a big fan of Halloween. We happily welcomed this knowledgeable & dedicated fear-free certified animal aficionado to our team in 2019!

Laina Johnson

Laina Johnson

Veterinary Technician

Growing up on a farm in Jacksonville gave Laina the opportunity to become very comfortable with animals from the start. That blossomed into a drive to become more involved with them. Laina fosters kittens from local shelters and also has two cats named Mocha and Indie and Clover, a Jack Russell Terrier. Currently, in her third year of college at Florida State, Laina loves to travel, go to the beach, bake cakes and spend time with her boyfriend & family. She has a varied background which includes being a preschool teacher and waitressing. Laina brings that strong work ethic with her as well as a very friendly demeanor and comforting nature.

Paige Williams

Paige Williamson

Veterinary Receptionist

A strong love for animals led Paige to become a valued team member at Birch Island, greeting and assisting clients and their pets at our reception area. Her enthusiasm, friendliness, and initiative are the perfect combinations to provide our guests with outstanding customer service and support. Paige grew up here in Jacksonville and currently attends FSCJ studying education. She loves spending time with her three dogs – Abby, Maggie & Lacey – and her cat, Kitty. You can also find Paige enjoying outdoor activities like camping, playing sports, going to the beach or working out at the gym. She is always happy to help our visitors feel welcome and answer any questions you may have!

Crystal Minsch

Crystal Minsch

Veterinary Receptionist

A happy & helpful face at the front desk, Crystal is one of our awesome receptionists! Her outgoing & sociable nature combined with her love for animals makes her the perfect addition to our team. Crystal shares her home with three cats – Dexter, Fresca & Chip – and dog, Buster. She has been a veterinary receptionist for several years and truly enjoys her role. We were lucky to welcome her aboard in 2019. In her free time, Crystal likes going to the beach, soaking up the Florida sun and watching scary movies. Her dream is to one day tour the country in an RV with her life partner Natasha and visit all 50 states. But, for now, she loves that she has the opportunity to interact with such great people & pets. Thank you for joining us, Crystal!

Lucia Scaglia

Lucia Scaglia

Veterinary Technician

All the way from Illinois, Lucia is currently at UNF with plans to attend vet school once she graduates. She has worked with a variety of animals including exotics & pocket pets and she brings that valuable experience with her to Birch Island. At home, she has a Sphynx cat named Binx and Ruger, a Doberman Pinscher. Lucia loves to travel and explore new places but is just as happy spending time with family and friends. A fan of plays & musicals, Lucia can often be found at the Alhambra Theatre. Her bright and positive attitude, willingness to help others, sense of humor and strong work ethic all make Lucia a star part of our team.

Robyn Morton

Robyn Morton

Veterinary Receptionist

There’s a good chance you’ve seen Robyn’s smiling face in the office, happily greeting pets and their owners. Born & raised here in Jacksonville, Robyn is an avid outdoors enthusiast & adventurer who loves fishing, traveling and being on the water. Sports is another passion for her, including playing softball and watching football. Robyn shares her life with dogs Wiley and Buster and Fancy the cat. Spending time with friends, family and her boyfriend are important to her and she loves working here at Birch Island. We are thankful for her openness, friendliness, ability & willingness to help where needed and her overall Southern charm.

Laurie McGovern

Laurie McGovern

Social Media Coordinator

You may not see a lot of Laurie in person, but you will certainly hear from her! Joining the Birch Island team while it was still in its planning stages, Laurie quickly took on the role of social media manager as well as an event coordinator. A passion for writing and a background in the veterinary field were the perfect combinations for her to be the go-to person for keeping our Facebook and Instagram pages active & inspired. In addition, she contributes content to the website and participates in community events. Laurie is a friendly face around the office as she comes in routinely for updates on happenings and meets with staff. A former vet tech from Massachusetts, Laurie, and her family moved to Florida in 2017. She met Dr. Dee soon after and was honored to be asked to partake in the Birch Island journey. Sharing a home with four Pitbull mixes, two rabbits, a bunch of fish and two humans (husband and stepson) is an adventure in itself, but Laurie also enjoys travel, wildlife tours, festivals and social meetups with friends. One of the first people on board at Birch Island, she has enjoyed watching it develop and grow. It’s been wonderful for me – I mean “her” – to be part of the team.

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