Kure Ketamine resembles a spa in many ways, with reclining lounge chairs, air purifiers, natural lighting, noise-canceling headphones, eye masks and soothing music. But the newly opened Santa Monica space specifically treats clinically depressed patients who are considered treatment resistant.
According to the clinic, ketamine has been used as a surgical anesthesia since 1964, and new research highlights its benefits in treating mental health disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, mood disorders and chronic pain.
One in 4 American adults suffers from a mental disorder, according to the National Institute of Mental Health Disorders, and many of these people are labeled treatment resistant. Kure Ketamine’s mission is to offer hope and healing to every patient.
“It’s made me much more in tune with mental health; having actual people truly suffering from a mental disease seek help,” said Dr. Steve Yun, Kure’s medical director.
“It’s one thing to read about the mental health epidemic in our country, but to talk to patients suffering has really been impactful for me. I’m much more motivated than ever before to help people suffering from these debilitating symptoms.”
Yun shares that the majority of the clinic’s patients are middle-aged people who have suffered from lifelong depression and have failed conventional therapies.
The first step in seeking treatment is for the patient’s medical history and mental health records to be evaluated. Clients can choose in-person or virtual evaluations. Once it is determined that the patient is an appropriate candidate for infusion, an in-office procedure is scheduled.
Ketamine is administered through an IV, and each treatment usually lasts about 45 minutes for mental health conditions and 90 minutes for chronic pain. Most patients receive between six and eight sessions. Medical staff remains available during the procedure, and vitals are monitored. Post infusion, the patient stays in the clinic in the relaxation room for observation, and most patients have no side effects and can leave soon after.
Although ketamine therapy has received positive attention over the last two decades for its successful treatment of depression, Yun assures that the therapy is not an overnight cure-all.
“We’re not claiming that ketamine is a miracle drug, but a tool to help start the process toward better mental health,” Yun said.
“We’ve seen patients with very severe symptoms unable to move on in a positive way with their life activities receive infusions with great success. Ketamine provided them an alleviation of their symptoms that has enabled them to renew their life, activities, and optimism toward life’s journey. There are no dramatic night-and-day miracle stories, but there are countless stories where we’ve been able to get people back on the right track.”
Yun added that ketamine should be combined with other care therapies, especially as an alternative when conventional pharmacological or other modalities have failed. Most insurance companies do not cover ketamine fusion therapy for mental health, however, it may for chronic pain. Kure Ketamine offers superbills for possible insurance reimbursement.
Yun preferred that prospective patients contact the office for pricing. It may offer discounts to first responders, veterans and students.
Los Angeles has other ketamine clinics. But Yun — who for more than 15 years served as director of anesthesia for Dr. Daniel Kharrazi, a former team physician for the Los Angeles Lakers — emphasized that Kure focuses on the patient’s whole being: mind, body and spirit.
“I’ve worked on a number of health care initiatives over the years with Kure’s founder,” Yun said.
“When we saw the proliferation of ketamine clinics throughout the country, it didn’t seem like these clinics were putting the physical and mental health of the patients first. Simply offering ketamine to anyone off the street, so to speak, is an approach we would never take. We’ve been clear in our mission and vision to be open, honest and direct about the benefits and limitations of ketamine infusion.
“We’ve gone out of our way not to accept anybody and everybody, but to ask ourselves ‘Is this person likely to benefit from ketamine infusion?’ versus asking ‘Can this patient afford the treatment?’”
Yun said Kure Ketamine is a perfect fit for Santa Monica; the location is near Erewhon, The Vitamin Shoppe, and Milo & Olive.
“Cities are associated with higher rates of mental health issues in general,” Yun said. “And in Los Angeles, where you can find a surplus of similar ketamine clinics, we knew we could grab the attention of more patients more often because we believe we offer a superior service.”
Source: Jessica Koslow, The Argonaut