ALS Clinical Team

ALS Team

Through assessment, education, intervention, instruction and collaboration the ALS clinical team strives to ensure the optimum functioning and quality of life for each of our patients.

Core Clinical ALS Team

John Ravits, MD

Neurologist, ALS Clinic Director
619-543-5300

  • Provides expert evaluation of neurologic function to offer diagnosis or confirmation of diagnosis
  • Addresses questions and concerns of patients, families and caregivers
  • Monitors long-term course of disease
  • Educates patients so that they can make informed decisions about their care
  • Initiates proactive treatment plans, as needed
  • Oversees each patient’s overall comprehensive treatment plan

Susie Morrell, RN

Clinical Nurse Coordinator
619-543-6256

Important Tip

Maintain a list with phone numbers and email addresses of your clinical team members, social services, medical equipment contacts and others important to your care.

  • Coordinates overall clinic services
  • Plans and implements medical treatment
  • Connects patients with appropriate community resources
  • Provides information and instruction to patients and family members

Joanna Burgess, MA, CCC-SLP

Speech-Language Pathologist
619-543-6530      

  • Completes diagnostic evaluations of speech communication and swallowing impairment
  • Provides patient and family education regarding speech strategies and assistive technology to improve communication
  • Provides swallowing intervention and education to reduce risk of aspiration
  • Provides education on food and liquid texture modification for increased ease of chewing and swallowing

Maria Elena Johnson, MOT, OTR/L

Occupational Therapist
619-543-2393

  • Provides comprehensive patient and caregiver education
  • Makes recommendations looking at the areas of safety, equipment and overall function of the patient
  • Assesses appropriateness of physical therapy and occupational therapy based on strength, ambulation/gait, fine motor coordination/splinting needs and performance in activities of daily living.
  • Coordinates comprehensive outpatient or home care for therapy services
  • Determines the necessity of equipment such as power wheelchairs, hoyer lifts or durable medical equipment for patients

Lori Thacker, RD

Clinical Dietitian  

  • Assesses nutritional needs and identifies nutritional requirements with regard to age and disease-specific needs of the patient
  • Addresses nutritional concerns such as, but not limited to changes in weight (loss or gain), swallowing or chewing difficulties, self-feeding difficulties and nutrient deficiencies
  • Provides diet education to patients and families on appropriate food choices and eating behaviors to accomplish patient's goals
  • Continuously monitors and evaluates effectiveness and outcomes of medical nutrition therapy interventions 

Deborah Wais, MSW, ASW

Social Worker
619-543-3488

  • Assesses impact of disease on social, psychological and functional aspects of patients and family members
  • Provides support and counseling
  • Provides referral list for mental health professionals, when needed
  • Provides psychoeducational information
  • Refers patients and family members to community support groups
  • Provides resources for social service needs such as living wills, medicare, etc.
  • Maintains useful articles, books and websites related to ALS

Garner Faulkner, II

ALS Pulmonary Specialist
619-543-2594

  • Performs pulmonary function testing to monitor lung function
  • Recommends pulmonary support
  • Educates ALS patients on available effective therapy
  • Monitors efficacy of therapy
  • Performs pulmonary function testing to monitor lung function

You and your caregiver are the most important parts of the team. Any treatment suggested is ultimately your decision to undertake. Be proactive.