MercyOne Newton Medical Center is announcing a new clinic designed to help those suffering with severe depression and/or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The MercyOne Newton Ketamine Clinic provides a leading-edge therapy for people whose depression and PTSD have not been significantly improved by conventional medical treatment.
The initial treatment of ketamine therapy typically involves a series of six infusions given during a three-week period. Benefits may occur after only one treatment, but the full series of six sessions is typically required for a more effective response.
So what, exactly, is ketamine?
“Ketamine is an anesthetic agent that has been around since the 1970s,” Chief CRNA at MercyOne Newton and Ketamine Clinic Director Susan Pair said. “At lower doses it has been found that ketamine has been successful in the treatment of psychiatric disorders.”
There are several documented benefits to ketamine:
• Many patients report almost immediate improvement in mood and function in a matter of hours, whereas conventional medications can take weeks for a positive effect.
• IV ketamine infusions have been found to be effective in about 70-75 percent of patients with treatment-resistant depression, or depression which fails to respond to FDA-approved oral antidepressants.
• Continued therapy has shown a major reduction of depression symptoms for 60-65 percent of patients up to a year later.
• Ketamine has been associated with rapid symptom reduction in patients with PTSD.
Pair describes ketamine therapy as being “life-changing,” while also emphasizing that it is not a cure.
“Even when it is effective, symptom relief may last only weeks or months,” Pair said, “so further infusions may be needed in the future. Ongoing treatment decisions will be made jointly between the patient and the anesthesia provider based on the patient’s symptoms and response to past treatments.”
Patients also should not discontinue any treatment they are currently undergoing. “Ketamine is not a substitution for what their primary care provider or mental health provider has prescribed for them,” Pair said. “Ketamine does not replace that — it adds to it.”
Each ketamine treatment typically lasts a little more than an hour, with 40 minutes dedicated to the actual infusion process, and the rest spent on recovery and observation.
“You will remain awake and able to talk during the infusion, but it is expected that you will experience a ‘drugged’ sensation and will likely find it difficult to focus, concentrate or formulate complex thoughts,” Pair said. “For that reason, it is important that patients not drive themselves home and not drive the rest of the day.”
Ketamine therapy is not an elective procedure. Because it is only indicated for certain individuals, and some preexisting conditions would eliminate it as a safe option, ketamine therapy is only available through a referral from a primary care provider or mental health provider. Once referred, a patient will also be screened by a MercyOne Newton anesthesia provider prior to being scheduled for treatments.
Additionally, ketamine therapy is not currently covered by insurance. The MercyOne Newton Ketamine Clinic will offer this service at a charge that matches the current ketamine infusion market. Cost per treatment is $500 and is required to be paid prior to each session. Six sessions are typically provided during a three-week period to establish the foundation of the therapy.
“We will not have patients prepay the full $3,000 in advance,” Pair said. “Most patients experience improvements in just one or two treatments; if you do not, however, we may recommend discontinuing the therapy, so we do not want to charge you for sessions you may not utilize.”
Overall, Pair said she is eager to offer something so vital to Newton and Jasper County. “We are about to do some amazing good for the mental health community, and I am excited that MercyOne Newton is going to be part of the solution.”
To learn more about ketamine therapy, talk to your doctor or contact Pair at 641-791-4385 or firstname.lastname@example.org.