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!

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!

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.

Whitney Thompson

Whitney Thompson

Veterinary Technician

Joining us from Chicago, Whitney’s passion for animals led her to enter the pet healthcare field as a veterinary technician. Having worked in both general practice and specialty arenas, Whitney brings a wealth of experience to our team. She traveled from Illinois to Florida with her two adventurous kitties and all three are enjoying the warmer weather. Reading, hiking, live music and oceanside leisure are Whitney’s activities of choice and she is hoping to someday return to school for Marine and Coastal Biology. Her enthusiasm and capacity for kindness are a perfect Birch Island fit!

Leila Burton

Leila Burton

Veterinary Technician

Leila is originally from Wisconsin and moved to Jacksonville in 2014. Having developed her excellent customer service skills in the food & service industry, Leila now enjoys using them in an environment she truly loves. Growing up, she was always surrounded by animals. Dogs & cats were part of her family and she also got to help with pigs, horses, cows & chickens on various small farms. Leila now has a dog named Archer and considers the patients at Birch Island her extended family. When time allows, Leila is busy renovating her house or enjoying creative crafts like painting, making jewelry, gardening and DIY projects. A fan of scientific oddities and interesting stories, she also likes true-crime podcasts. Leila is just as appreciative to be part of the Birch Island team as we are to have her!

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!

Jessica Ross

Jessica Ross

Veterinary Receptionist

Jessica joined the Birch Island family in February of 2020. Her love of animals and kind, caring & outgoing nature have made her a perfect addition to our team. Jess has a large fur family including four horses (Tennessee Walkers Gypsy, Jed & Cocoa plus Morgan mix, Rocky) and a Yorkie named Nike. Originally from Atlanta, Jessica loves going to the beach, being outdoors, monster fish tanks and spending time with friends and family. You can’t miss her sparkling smile at our front desk!

Laurie McGovern

Laurie McGovern

Social Media & Events 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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