MYRTLE BEACH KETAMINE CENTER (WBTW) — The veteran-owned Grand Strand Ketamine Center is set to have its grand opening Monday.
The center will help treat people with depression, anxiety, PTSD, chronic pain and other mental and physical conditions.
Erik Oberg, a physician at Grand Strand Ketamine Clinic, said ketamine is an anesthetic that has been around since the 1960s and has been used in medical procedures and veterinary medicine in the U.S. and worldwide, noting that it’s on the World Health Organization’s list of “most essential medicines.”
Oberg said Ketamine has a large safety profile that is very well established.
He and the doctors he works with have used ketamine for more than 20 years in their practices and have seen the positive effects it has. He said it works faster than other medications and can be a good option for patients who have tried other treatments that failed.
“The problem is that a lot of these medications either don’t work or they take weeks to months to work if they’re going to help at all,” Oberg said. “Ketamine is very different. Ketamine works very quickly. Usually within the first few treatments patients will see a profound effect on improvement of their depression, anxiety PTSD, whatever.”
He said that is what makes ketamine great. The majority of patients in their Greenville center have tried many treatments that either work and stop working, or never worked. He said many of these patients saw success with ketamine infusions.
“They come and they get the ketamine treatments, and they get their life back,” he said. “They’re able to establish relationships again. They’re able to establish employment again and its really an exciting thing to be a part of.”
Allen Neilsen, a physician at Grand Strand Ketamine Center, said their treatments are unlike many others.
“This is a different experience than anybody will experience in any other medical community,” Neilsen said. “We’re not volumes-based, we’re outcomes-based. We want people to do well.”
Neilsen said the typical patient experience starts with a consultation about any past treatments, how the person is feeling and getting to know the patient. If the person is ready for an infusion, an IV is placed and the room changes to have calm blue, purple and green lighting with tranquil music playing. Medication is slowly administered.
“During this time, usually within a few minutes, usually, the person enters what’s called a dissociative state,” he said. “All the literature supports for depression that the patient has to enter a dissociative state. That’s a state where they’re awake, but they’re not really with us. They may see things, they may hear things but they’re conscious and they will communicate somewhat to you.”
He said the entire session lasts about an hour. Afterwards, patients are monitored and required to have someone drive them home.
Patients are usually “a little bit groggy” afterwards. Neilsen compared it to the feelings after other medical procedures like a colonoscopy or wisdom teeth removal.
“We focus very much on safety,” he said. “Ketamine itself has an excellent safety profile, the medication has been used for many years with extremely good outcomes but we take the extra steps. Most clinics that do IV infusions of ketamine don’t have monitoring equipment. We have ICU grade monitoring equipment that we can monitor from anywhere in the clinic. We watch the patients closely, we watch their blood pressure, we watch their heart rate, we watch their oxygen levels.”
Oberg and Neilsen want people to know there is hope with this treatment. Also, there is an expense with treatment. Insurance does not currently cover ketamine treatments. Most treatments start at $435 dollars per treatment for six sessions. Then follow-up treatments are $380 per session.
They said most patients never complain about the price after a treatment because of how well they feel.
“The thing we’ve heard over and over again is that if you take all healthcare dollars that you would spend, the biggest bang for your buck for your mental health or your well being in general is this treatment,” Oberg said.
The regional operations director, Jason Thieme, has been with the center since the beginning when it started a location in Greenville two-and-a-half years ago. He said the business takes pride in the fact it is veteran-owned. The business offers discounts and financial assistance to veterans and is trying to work with the VA to get treatments covered.
“We’re completely humbled to be able to offer these services to these men and women,” Thieme said.
He said the office is a family atmosphere and takes pride in getting to really know its patients.
“Patients go into places and they’re a bar code and you’re lucky if your providers even know your name,” he said. “We wanted to go back old school. We wanted people to be able to come in and connect to us, and we wanted them to feel like we are family, and we truly are empathetic with their circumstances.”
The center is currently booking appointments through phone call, email and message.