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University Ear, Nose, & Throat Audiologists and Speech-Language Pathologists

Audiologists

Debra S. Eisner, MS

Ms. Eisner has worked as an audiologist at UPMC since 1979. She received her bachelor's degree in hearing and speech from the University of Maryland and her master's degree in audiology from Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. Her special areas of interest include diagnostic testing and hearing aid fittings. She is a member of the American Academy of Audiology and the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, and is licensed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Jenifer Fruit, AuD

Dr. Fruit joined UPMC as an audiologist in 2011 and currently works in our Oakland location. She received her clinical doctorate and master’s degree in Audiology from the University of Pittsburgh and received her Bachelor of Arts from the College of Wooster. She is a member of the American Academy of Audiology and the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, and is licensed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Her special areas of interest include diagnostic testing and hearing aid fittings as well as special projects in clinical research.

Renee M. Garvin, AuD, CCC-A

Dr. Garvin has been practicing in the field of audiology since 1989. She received her bachelor's and master's degrees from Clarion University of Pennsylvania and her doctorate from A.T. Still/ Arizona School of Health Sciences. She is a member of the American Academy of Audiology, ASHA certified and licensed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Dr. Garvin's special interests have focused on evoked potentials, intra-operative monitoring and vestibular evaluation. She also provides hearing aid related services.  She is currently one of our audiologists staffing our UPMC St. Margaret location and our UPMC Mercy Hearing and Balance Center.

Kathleen Gilmartin-Vesco, AuD

Dr. Gilmartin-Vesco joined the staff of audiologists at the UPMC Eye & Ear Institute in 1980. She received her bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Pittsburgh, and received her doctorate in audiology from the University of Florida. Dr. Gilmartin-Vesco’s clinical duties include audiologic evaluations of adults and children, special tests, hearing aid dispensing, and cochlear implant assessment and programming. Dr. Gilmartin-Vesco is a member of the American Academy of Audiology and the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. She is licensed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Rick Hyre, MA

Mr. Hyre has been an audiologist with UPMC since 1981. He received his bachelor's degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and his master's degree in audiology from the University of Pittsburgh. His special interests include diagnostic testing, hearing aid fitting, electrophysiology, and intraoperative monitoring. He is a member of the American Academy of Audiology and the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and is licensed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Susan R. Klein, MA

Ms. Klein has worked as an audiologist at UPMC since 1981. She received both her bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Pittsburgh, and holds a license to practice in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Her special interests include diagnostic testing, hearing aid fitting, and facial nerve testing. She is a member of the American Academy of Audiology and the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

Virginia Milne, AuD

Dr. Milne joined UPMC in 2010 and currently works at our Seven Fields office. She received her bachelor's degree in communication disorders and psychology and her doctorate of audiology degree from Kent State University as part of the Northeast Ohio Au.D. Consortium. She is a member of the American Academy of Audiology and is licensed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Her special areas of interest include diagnostic testing, hearing aid fittings, and auditory processing disorders.

Catherine V. Palmer, PhD

Dr. Palmer joined the University of Pittsburgh in 1990 and became director of Audiology and Hearing Aids in the Department of Otolaryngology in 1998. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and her master's degree and doctorate at Northwestern University. She worked as a clinical and research audiologist in the Veterans Administration for two years. Dr. Palmer specializes in rehabilitative audiology including the use of hearing aids and other assistive devices to improve communication for individuals with hearing loss, and hearing protection for specialized situations. Dr. Palmer also manages a research laboratory at the University of Pittsburgh where her research focuses on matching technology to individual needs and examining adaptation in the human auditory system.

Jillyn Roxberg, MA

Ms. Roxberg received her bachelor's degree in Speech and Hearing Science from University of Iowa, and her master's degree in Audiology from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. Prior to joining UPMC in 2007, she worked as both a clinical and research audiologist in the Department of Veterans Affairs and at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her primary interests are diagnostic evaluations, vestibular testing and hearing aid fitting. She is a member of the American Auditory Society, American Academy of Audiology and the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, and is licensed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Laurel Steele, MS

Ms. Steele has worked as an audiologist at UPMC since 1997 and currently staffs our UPMC Mercy office. She received her bachelor's and master's degrees from West Virginia University. Her special interests include diagnostic audiology, treatment of vestibular disorders, and tinnitus treatment. She is a member of the American Academy of Audiology and the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and is licensed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Claire Tempel, AuD

Claire joined UPMC in 2010 at the Monroeville, PA office. She received her doctorate of audiology degree from Ball State University and her Bachelor of Science degree in speech pathology and audiology from Miami University. She is a member of the American Academy of Audiology and the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and is licensed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Her special areas of interest include diagnostic and vestibular testing, as well as hearing aid fittings. Services also include hearing and ear protection, selection of assistive listening technology (such as alerting devices), as well as tinnitus therapy.

Sharon Tiesi, MS

Ms. Tiesi has been an audiologist at UPMC since 1978. She received a bachelor's degree in speech pathology and audiology from Clarion University, and a master's degree in audiology from the University of Pittsburgh. Her special interests include cochlear implants, diagnostic testing, and hearing aid fitting. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Audiology, a member of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, and is licensed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Lori Zitelli, AuD, CCC-A

Lori Zitelli joined the staff of audiologists at the UPMC Eye & Ear Institute in 2012 and works from our Oakland location.  She received her clinical doctorate and master’s degree in Audiology from the University of Pittsburgh.  She is certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and licensed to practice audiology in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  Her special interests include amplification, diagnostic testing, tinnitus treatment, and electrophysiology.

Speech-Language Pathologists

Brooke Baumann, MS, CCC-SLP

Ms. Baumann received her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Duquesne University and completed her fellowship training with the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System. Ms. Baumann has experience in evaluating and treating swallowing disorders in the acute care setting, which includes work with tracheostomized and ventilator-dependent patients, patients with neurologic diseases, geriatric disorders, cardiothoracic surgeries, and head and neck diseases. Other experience includes evaluating and treating voice, motor, speech, language, and cognitive disorders. Ms. Baumann also specializes in providing acute augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) strategies for critically ill non-speaking patients. She has participated with the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing in the Study of Patient-Nurse Effectiveness with Assisted Communication Strategies (SPEACS). She has also participated in several conference presentations to promote patient-provider communication.

Terri L. Bowser, MS, CCC-SLP

Ms. Bowser is a speech language pathologist at UPMC St. Margaret.  She earned her bachelor degree from Thiel College and master degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Throughout her career, she has specialized in the provision of diagnosis and treatment of speech, language, cognitive-linguistic, and swallowing disorders with adults in the acute rehabilitative setting. Her experience includes working with tracheostomized and ventilator dependent patients. She has also worked closely with ear, nose, and throat physicians in the completion of instrumental swallow studies through Fiberoptic Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallowing  (FEES).

Joan Bucholtz, MS, CCC-SLP

Ms. Bucholtz is a speech-language pathologist at UPMC St. Margaret. She received her master’s degree from Case Western Reserve University. She has extensive experience in the diagnosis and treatment of individuals in acute care, rehabilitation, and outpatient care settings. She specializes in working with children and adults with a wide range of swallowing, speech, and language disorders including dysphagia, aphasia, dysarthria, apraxia, dementia, neurological disorders, and developmental disorders. She is involved with interdisciplinary hospital activities and is a member of UPMC St. Margaret’s Stroke Team, Interdisciplinary Plan of Care Team, and Education Team.

Sara Byers, MA, CCC-SLP

Sara Byers is a medical speech pathologist in department of otolaryngology at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.  She received her bachelor’s degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders and her master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology from the University of Pittsburgh.  Ms. Byers’ clinical and educational training is in adult acute care speech-language pathology with emphasis on dysphagia, tracheostomized and ventilator-dependent patients, and cardiothoracic surgery populations. She is also certified in and works with clients seeking foreign accent modification.

Danielle Columbe, MA, CCC-SLP

Ms. Columbe is a co-director of the Division of Speech-Language Pathology. She is a graduate of Penn State University, earned her master’s degree from the University of Akron and completed her clinical fellowship in the UPMC Department of Otolaryngology in 2000. Ms. Columbe oversees the speech program that has grown to include several hospitals within the UPMC system. She has extensive experience in evaluating and treating swallowing disorders in medically complex patients in the adult acute care setting. She has also served as a member of the Swallowing Disorders Center team. Ms. Columbe works closely with ENT surgeons and leads the specialized team of SLP clinicians providing voice restoration to head and neck cancer patients following total laryngectomy.

James L. Coyle, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, BRS-S

Jim Coyle is an assistant professor in the Communication Science and Disorders Department at the University of Pittsburgh, where he teaches Dysphagia, Medical Speech Pathology and Neuroscience coursework, performs adult inpatient and outpatient dysphagia consultations, and trains student SLP’s in acute and intensive care practice in the University’s Medical Center.  At Pitt, he has co-developed a Clinical Doctorate program in medical Speech Language Pathology. His interests include evidence based practice, single subject methodology, and dysphagia outcomes measurement. He is a Board Recognized Specialist in Swallowing Disorders.

Jim Coyle teaches Dysphagia, Medical Speech Pathology and Neuroscience coursework at the University of Pittsburgh, where he also works with dysphagic patients and trains student SLP’s in the University’s Medical Center.  His interests include evidence based practice and dysphagia outcomes measurement. He is a Board Recognized Specialist in Swallowing Disorders.

Robert Fire, BFA, MM, AGMA, AEA

Robert Fire is a sought-after voice teacher, therapist, and coach who specializes in building solid vocal technique and analyzing and correcting impediments to vibrant, healthy singing. His clients perform in theaters and concert halls across America and around the world, and his students have been accepted to many of the nation’s most prestigious programs for voice, theater, and musical theater. An honors graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, Robert has taught and performed in western Pennsylvania for nearly twenty years. He is a versatile singing actor and has extensive experience in opera, oratorio, musical theater, sacred music, and concertizing.

Jackie Leslie Gartner-Schmidt, BA, MA, PhD, CCC-SLP

Jackie L. Gartner-Schmidt, PhD, is Associate Director of the University of Pittsburgh Voice Center, Director of Speech-Language Pathology – Voice Division, and Associate Professor of Otolaryngology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.  Dr. Gartner-Schmidt specializes in care of the professional voice, as well as clinical effectiveness of voice therapy.  She is also a singing voice specialist and performs with the Pittsburgh Concert Chorale. She presents frequently at both national and international voice conferences, as well as directs many conferences dedicated to the training of speech-language pathologists and otolaryngologists in contemporary voice care.

Rita Hersan, MS, CCC-SLP

Ms. Hersan received her master's degree in Speech pathology in Brazil in 1978. Her work dedicated to patients with voice disorders has inspired a special interest in serving children and adolescents. She has presented at several schools in Pennsylvania and recently lectured to the Children's Festival Chorus in Pittsburgh at their summer residency workshop. She is the co-author of Lessac-Madsen Resonant Voice Therapy for Kids. Ms. Hersan has worked at the UPMC Voice Center since its inception in 1995.

Jessica Jordan, MA, CCC-SLP

Ms. Jordan is a Medical Speech Pathologist in the Department of Otolaryngology at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.  Ms. Jordan received her Bachelor of Science from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and her Master’s Degree at the University of Pittsburgh. Her clinical training has largely been in the adult acute care setting, but she has experience in the rehabilitative setting as well. In regards to the acute care setting, Ms. Jordan’s primary focus has been in evaluation and treatment of dysphagia with emphasis in tracheostomized and ventilator-dependent patients, pulmonary transplant patients, those with head and neck disease, and the geriatric population. Ms. Jordan also works with patient’s in the in the outpatient setting targeting dysphagia treatment in those with head and neck disease, neurological disorders, as well as the geriatric population.

Susana Keller, MS, CCC-SLP

Susana Keller is a medical speech-language pathologist who is the primary clinician at Magee-Women’s Hospital of UPMC. She received her master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology from Baylor University and is currently a resident in the CScD, Clinical Doctorate, program at the University of Pittsburgh. Ms. Keller has experience in evaluating and treating swallowing disorders in the acute care setting, which includes working with patients with dysphagia and tracheostomized and ventilator-dependent patients. She also has a special interest in the geriatric population and the medically complex patient.

Alina Koptsiovskya, MA,CCC-SLP

Alina Koptsiovsky is a medical speech pathologist in the Department of Otolaryngology at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders from the Pennsylvania State University and her master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology from the University of Pittsburgh. Ms. Koptsiovsky's clinical training is in acute care speech-language pathology with an emphasis on dysphagia. She works closely with inpatients who are tracheostomized, ventilator-dependent, and those with pulmonary transplant complications.  In addition to the acute care setting, Ms. Koptsiovsky participates in research for dysphagia rehabilitation and provides instruction in the Foreign Accent Modification Program.

Brian R. Leonard, MS, CCC-SLP

Brian R. Leonard is a Speech-Language Pathologist in the Department of Otolaryngology at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. He is the primary therapist at UPMC East. Brian obtained a Master’s degree from California University of Pennsylvania.  He has experience in the diagnosis and treatment of individuals in acute care, rehabilitation, and outpatient care settings. Brian primarily works with individuals who have dysphagia following head and neck cancer and other etiologies.

Deanna Pasekoff, MS, CCC-SLP

Ms. Pasekoff earned her master’s degree from the University of Miami. She works with adults in the areas of neurogenic speech, language, cognitive-linguistic, and swallowing disorders in the acute care, acute inpatient rehab, and outpatient rehab settings. She is certified in brain injury rehabilitation by the American Academy for the Certification of Brain Injury Specialists. She is qualified to assess and treat patients with traumatic brain injuries and acquired brain injuries in the areas of speech, language, cognitive-linguistic, and swallowing.

Lindsay Quintiliani, MS, CCC-SLP

Lindsay Quintiliani received her undergraduate degree at The Ohio State University and completed her Masters Degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of Pittsburgh.  Lindsay then trained at the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System where she completed her clinical fellowship.  She joined UPMC in September of 2013.  Lindsay’s primary interests including assessment and treatment of both swallowing disorders and neurogenic communication disorders.  She works primarily at UPMC Montefiore, but also provides coverage at UPMC Presbyterian, The Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, The UPMC Rehabilitation Institute, and Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC.

Lindsay Savinda, MS, CCC-SLP

Lindsay Savinda is a medical speech pathologist in the Department of Otolaryngology at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. She graduated from Ohio University in Athens, Ohio and earned her master's degree in Speech Language Pathology at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Lindsay is experienced in evaluating and treating speech, language, and swallowing disorders in an acute care setting with exposure to the rehabilitative setting. She works closely with acute and long term swallowing disorders and has experience with Modified Barium Swallow studies.  Her population of focus is with adults and geriatric patients.

Kristen Stablein, MS, CCC-SLP

Kristen Stablein is a speech-language pathologist within the University of Pittsburgh Physician's Department of Otolaryngology. She earned both her Bachelor's of Science and her Master's of Science in Speech-Language Pathology at Duquesne University. Since her graduation from Duquesne University in 2009, Kristen has focused on developing her career in both acute care and acute rehab care. She has evaluated and treated patients with speech, language, cognitive, and/or swallowing disorders who carry a wide variety of diagnoses which include stroke, head and neck cancer, degenerative neurological diseases, general geriatric illness, tracheostomized patients.

Sarah Stranberg, MA, CCC-SLP

Ms. Stranberg  has been a medical speech-language pathologist for almost 20 years. She received her degrees in Communication Sciences and Disorders from Northwestern University and the University of Minnesota. In 2012, Ms. Stranberg joined the Division of Speech Pathology in the Department of Otolaryngology at UPMC after practicing in several large academic medical centers. Throughout her career, Ms. Stranberg has specialized in the evaluation and treatment of speech, language, cognitive, and swallowing disorders in patients seen by the Neurology and Neurosurgery services. She has significant experience with working with individuals with stroke, traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, brain tumors and progressive neurologic conditions including ALS, MD and Parkinson's Disease. During many years of working in critical care, Ms. Stranberg has focused on increasing the role of Speech-Language Pathologists in the care of ICU patients and she has presented regularly at national critical care conferences on the topics of tracheostomy, swallowing and communication. She continues to collaborate with many other medical subspecialties, including Palliative Care, to improve communication for medically-complex patients. Ms. Stranberg has expertise in dysphagia  following Thoracic surgery  and has co-authored several publications in the primary cardiothoracic surgery journals. Throughout her career, she has been regularly performing Modified Barium Swallowing Studies (MBSS) as well as Fiberoptic endoscopic evaluation of swallowing (FEES).

Tracey L. Thomas, MS, CCC-SLP

Ms. Thomas has been a speech-language pathologist for 15 years. She spent six years devoted to adult brain injury rehabilitation before joining the UPMC Voice Center staff. Ms. Thomas has experience in graduate level course instruction and clinical supervision. Her background in music provides a creative foundation for an integrated approach to voice therapy. She has been at the Voice Center for nine years.

Nicole Veydt, MA, CCC-SLP

Ms. Veydt received a Master’s degree in speech pathology at Ohio University. Her experience focuses on the acute rehabilitation setting, which includes treating patients with a variety of speech, language, and cognitive disorders, as well as dysphagia.  She is the primary therapist in the Select Specialty Hospital of UPMC Montefiore, where she evaluates and treats primarily tracheostomized and ventilator-dependent patients with dysphagia and cognitive-communication disorders.  Ms. Veydt is also certified in the Comptom P-ESL program and provides instruction in the Foreign Accent Modification Program.

Tamara Wasserman-Wincko, MS, CCC-SLP

Tamara Wasserman-Wincko is the co-director of the speech-language pathology division and clinical instructor of otolaryngology at UPMC. She joined the team in 1993 after completing her master’s degree at Nova Southeastern University. She became co-director in 2012 and has developed the program to include five hospitals within the UPMC system. She specializes in the assessment and management of adult swallowing disorders, with emphasis on head and neck cancer. She serves on the aspiration prevention and quality improvement committee in the department of otolaryngology.

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