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Let us Help you HearWellTM
Sara K. Downs
Dr. Sara Downs has been serving the Northland community as an audiologist for more than two decades and in 2012, she co-founded the Hearing Wellness Center and Director of the Tinnitus Treatment Center with long-time friend and colleague, Dr. Jonathan Gervais.
Sara and her husband have two teenage boys who love sports and music. Most of her free time is spent cheering (gasping, screaming, rooting) on the sidelines of any one of the many sports both of her sons play. When she is not working with patients, or cheering for her boys, she is likely to be found cycling either out on the roads, or on the trails surrounding the Duluth area.
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“Practicing Audiology has allowed me to blend science, health, and the art of healing together. Hearing is an essential part of a person’s wellbeing and I love helping people get reconnected through better hearing. I have earned Scholar recognition by the American Academy of Audiology, which recognizes audiologists for outstanding commitment to continuing education. Hearing technology changes at such a rapid pace, tinnitus research is exploding, and hearing science as it relates to cognitive function has become a hot research topic and these create a real need for constant learning. Another great pleasure I have in practice is getting to know my patients personally, many of whom will tell you I love to visit, see pictures of family, laugh and cry right along with them.”
- B.S. in Communication Sciences and Disorders at University of North Dakota
- M.S. in Audiology at Idaho State University
- Au.D. at Salus University 2005
- Board Certified in Audiology since 2005
- Certified in Mind-Body Medicine since 2015
- Certified Safe and Sound Protocol Provider since 2020
- MBA program at the College of St. Scholastica
- Minnesota Academy of Audiology—Past Member of the Board of Directors
- American Academy of Audiology
- Academy of Doctors of Audiology— served on the Convention/ Continuing Education committee for two years
- American Tinnitus Association–Current Member of the Board of Directors, Provider Relations Chair
- Tinnitus Practitioner’s Association
- Awards: Scholar Award from American Academy of Audiology for outstanding commitment to continuing education.
Jonathan P. Gervais
Dr. Jonathan Gervais is an audiologist and one of the founders of the Hearing Wellness Center. Dr. Gervais grew up in North Branch MN and married his high school sweetheart, Tracy.
In 1994, after graduating with his bachelor’s degree in communication disorders, Jonathan and Tracy moved to Iowa where he continued his graduate studies in Audiology. After completing a two-year residency at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, one of the country’s top-rated hearing centers, the Gervais’ decided to make Duluth their new forever home.
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Dr. Gervais loves helping others reconnect to the hearing world as he has hearing loss himself and understands the challenges hearing loss can cause in everyday life. Dr. Gervais also has a heart for working with veterans, that goes back to the stories his grandfather shared with him about participating in the Battle of the Bulge during WWII. Dr. Gervais and his wife have a teenage daughter and three cat fur babies. He enjoys spending time exploring new places with his family, reading, and riding bikes in the summer.
- BA in Communication Sciences and Disorders from st. Cloud State University – Worked as a volunteer paramedic
- MA in Audiology from University of Northern Iowa and completed a 2 year residency at the University of Iowa
- Hospitals, worked closely with the Cochlear Implant Research team and has publication in a number of joint research studies
- AuD in 2003 from University of Florida
- Board Certified in Audiology since 2007
- American Academy of Audiology
- Academy of Doctors of Audiology
- Minnesota Academy of Audiology
- American Tinnitus Association
- Tinnitus Practitioners
- Association Awards:
- Scholar Award from American Academy of Audiology for outstanding commitment to continuing education.
Betsy (Schutte) Nelson
Dr. Betsy Nelson is a Wisconsin native who loves the Green Bay Packers and tolerates her husband’s love for the Philadelphia Eagles. When she’s not cheering on the Packers you’ll find her wandering the woods with her husband, kiddos and their two dogs.
Dr. Nelson has been serving the Duluth/Superior communities as an audiologist for the past 15 years. She earned her Bachelors in Science degree from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh and her Doctorate of Audiology from Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. Be sure to ask her about her latest outdoor adventures the next time you’re in!
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- BS in Communicative Disorders from UW Oshkosh 2002
- AuD from Ball State University 2006
- ASHA Certificate of Clinical Competence since 2007
- Fellow American Academy of Audiology since 2006
Tina has been with HWC as an Audiologist since 2020, specializing in Veteran’s Compensation and Pension Assessments. When she is not preoccupied with her two adorable (spoiled) Miniature Australian Shepherds, you may find her outside in her gardens, watching the birds that come to the many feeders, or perhaps just sitting around a fire and reading. She enjoys all things crafty like making leather dice cups, knitting, or sewing.
Growing up with a deaf mother, she understands the daily challenges hard-of hearing people face. She earned her undergraduate and her Master’s degree from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities and holds the Certificate of Clinical Competence in Audiology from the American Speech and Language Association. She is licensed to practice Audiology in Wisconsin and Minnesota. Ask to see pictures of the cute dog dresses she has made for her sister’s dog!
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- B.S. (1988) in Speech and Hearing Science from the University of MN – Twin
- M.A. (1990) in Audiology from the University of MN – Twin Cities
- Worked and trained one year at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital and one year as a research assistant
- Clinical Fellowship Year completed at Abbott Northwestern Hospital
- ASHA Certificate of Clinical Competence since 1990
Dr. Zimmel has 13+ years of clinical experience as an audiologist. Her experience includes work in both the clinical and private practice sectors. In 2009, Dr. Zimmel founded Advantage Audiology & Hearing Healthcare in an effort to better meet the needs of those with hearing related issues residing in the greater Bemidji area. After serving her patients for 10 years, Dr. Zimmel made the decision to transfer ownership of her practice to the caring and qualified hands of Dr. Sara Downs and Dr. Jonathan Gervais of Hearing Wellness Center. For the past 3+ years,
Dr. Zimmel has, and continues to, provide audiological services for Indian Health Services. Circumstances have aligned to allow Dr. Zimmel to come full circle and join Dr. Downs and Dr. Gervais at Hearing Wellness Center in Bemidji where she looks forward to serving both previous and new patients on Mondays of each week.
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Dr. Zimmel’s clinical philosophy is one of individualized care, personal attention, and connection. She strives to form honest connections with patients to ensure their hearing healthcare needs are understood and treated in the most appropriate manner.
Dr. Zimmel is happily married to her high school sweetheart, Nick. Together they have three children. Outside of the office, Dr. Zimmel and her family enjoy relaxing at home, spending time at the lake, and creating memories with extended family and friends. Aside from hearing, her passions include spreading awareness of dyslexia and providing others with the knowledge and tools necessary to live life to their fullest potential.
- B.A. Speech Language and Hearing Sciences from Minnesota State University, Moorhead
- M.A. in Audiology from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
- Completed 1 year of residency at Brainerd Lakes Health ENT/Audiology
- Au.D. from University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
- Board Certified in Audiology since 2009
Brittany is our Audiology Assistant. Brittany has lived in the North Shore area for most of her life. She graduated from North Hennepin Community College with an Associates Degree in Graphic Design. After graduating she decided to work in the patient care industry and started in a chiropractic office.
Brittany joined the Hearing Wellness Center in late 2021 as a Patient Care Coordinator and in August of 2022, she became our Audiologist Assistant. She really enjoys more one-on-one time with patients. Brittany is an energetic person who loves to talk and sometimes tends to get a little loud, which makes her perfect for our office! She is passionate about helping others and being useful when needed.
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In her spare time, Brittany loves spending time with her daughter, who is also full of spunk and sass. They love getting out on walks with their aging dog, Stella. Other pastimes she enjoys are camping, kayaking, snowshoeing and just being outside in nature. Even though trying to find a healthy meal that a child will enjoy eating is hard, she likes to cook and try out new recipes!
Patient Care Lead
Robyn is our lead Patient Care Coordinator. She was born and raised in Duluth. After graduating from Duluth Central High School, she attended the Eagles Nest Institute and received her license in Massage Therapy, which she still happily uses for her family and friends.
Robyn worked for several years in retail management selling books and renting movies at Blockbuster. She is still widely known around town as “The Movie Lady.”
Robyn joined the team at the Hearing Wellness Center in April of 2017. Robyn is very enthusiastic and always has a positive and optimistic outlook about work and life, and she has a passion for helping patients.
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Robyn is happily married. She and her husband, Jason love to spend their time with family and friends. Whether they are sitting at the dinner table or around a bonfire, it doesn’t matter as long as there is good conversation and lots of laughter.
Robyn is an avid reader and is usually reading a minimum of 3 books at the same time! She additionally loves tending to her garden, and going to the movies. Most importantly, Robyn is a devoted MN Vikings fan and on any given Sunday she can be found watching her beloved Vikings with her Dad. SKOL!
Kristen is our Audiology Assistant in Bemidji. She is happily married to her husband, Dustin and together they have two daughters, Madison and Charlotte. They love spending time together traveling and exploring new places.
You’ll find their family camping, watching stock car races, fishing and hunting. You may even catch Kristen enjoying a good book or crocheting in-demand dishcloths or cozy blankets.
Kristen was born and raised in Bemidji, graduating from Bemidji High School in 2003. She went on to earn her Associate degree in Sales, Marketing and Management from Northwest Technical College. Kristen joined the Hearing Wellness Center in November of 2021, coming from Sanford Health where she was an audiology assistant. Kristen’s greatest joy in her job is being able to help patients with their hearing health needs.
William, COHC is our own in-house Occupational Hearing Conservationist. He grew up in central Michigan playing music and has since lived in New York, the Twin Cities and now resides in Duluth. His background in music theory and sound engineering have helped further his interest in sound, hearing and audiology.
His three rotund cats love laying on him while he is trying to read a good book and he enjoys running his yoyo company in his free time. He is our go-to person for any and all yoyo-related questions. When not at work, he can usually be found hiking on the trails surrounding Duluth. If you see him out there, say “Hi”!
Laura is the Practice Director at Hearing Wellness Center. She considers herself a mediocre golfer, enjoys the mutual love of the game with her husband, Jon, and chasing their three children to all of their activities.
Laura has been with Hearing Wellness Center for over 8 years. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Management from the University of Wisconsin Superior, and can be found wearing many hats in our office.
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- B.S. in Business Administration & Management from the University of Wisconsin Superior
Melanie is Hearing Wellness Center’s Director of Marketing and special events. She joined the team in 2017 and uses her bachelor’s degree in Theatre from St. Cloud State nearly every day (much to the surprise of high school guidance counselors everywhere). Melanie’s favorite part of her job is learning how our patients’ lives have improved with better hearing – making marketing very rewarding!
Mel and her husband, Tim are parents to four really cool kids and one happy golden retriever. When she’s not at a hockey rink, soccer field, or dance recital, she’s at home folding laundry and listening to true crime podcasts.
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- B.A. in Theatre from Saint Cloud State University
Why wait? You don't have to live with hearing loss.