GETTING SERIOUS ABOUT SELF CARE
How Drs. Gameli Dekayle and Chantele Stephens-Archer Created Quench Wellness to Shift Chicago's Health Narrative
What if we focused on prevention? Dr. Gameli (Dekayle), an emergency room physician, and her best friend of 17 years, Dr. Chantale (Stephens-Archer), who specializes in internal medicine, pondered this question. They often saw patients with chronic conditions in advanced stages through their work. Unfortunately, they could offer these patients little beyond increasing the dosage, adding another, or attaching them to a device. They wondered how those patients' lives would be different if they had met them a decade earlier. Their desire to bring preventive medicine to the community instead of practicing reactive medicine resulted in the launch of Quench Wellness in July 2018. We chatted with Dr. Chantale about their labor of love, the nitty-gritty of vitamin infusions and their other offerings, and how the pandemic impacted their business.
CC: What is the goal of Quench Wellness?
Dr.Chantale: It's taking self-care down to its physical components. What is really needed to sustain our bodies on a basic cellular level? Plus, it comes down to just a few things. You need solid sleep. You need to make sure you're adequately hydrated. You need to make sure you eat a well-balanced diet and maintain emotional and psychological balance. But, unfortunately, given our hectic lifestyle, it's tough even to do the basic things. You know, it's hard to get eight hours of sleep. When many people work numerous or very demanding jobs, it's also equally challenging to get 64 fluid ounces daily and five to seven servings of fruits and vegetables. It just almost feels impossible. So that's where Quench came in is to fill those gaps in your care to allow your bodies to function optimally and do that through simple things like vitamin shots, vitamin infusions, vitamins that you otherwise should be getting in your diet. Still, you can't get all in because you don't have the time.
CC: The diet piece is critical. How is that impacting us now?
Dr. Chantale: Even the diet we're consuming now isn't as nutrient-dense as it once was. Oranges are coming out of Florida now with no vitamin C. What is the first thing you think of when you want vitamin C? You still may not be getting all of the vitamins you need because our food is not as good as it was. That's where Quench comes in. Our treatments try to help the body out in a simple way.
CC: How do you develop protocols for vitamin infusions?
Dr. Chantale: The idea of vitamin infusions isn’t new for a medical practice. The idea came from a doctor, John Myers, who created the Myers cocktails. He used it to treat different asthma, dermatological and gastrointestinal issues, and headaches. We also use them in the emergency room. If a patient comes in inebriated, we give them a banana bag (packed with Vitamin B). We took that concept and said, we know we can treat a hangover, but there are many other conditions. We have an immunity blend packed full of Vitamin C and zinc. That combination helps reduce the timeframe for a viral infection and speeds up recovery time.
CC: What’s the goal for your patients?
Dr. Chantale: I would like to use infusions to boost themselves and get them back to
their maintenance level. The goal is for them to maintain that with their own lifestyle choices. If a person comes in, I talk to them about their immune status and what behaviors they might adopt to maintain that status.
CC: What makes your facility different?
Dr. Chantale: We are in the Southside of Chicago. This is our second location. A couple of other companies downtown, on the north side of the city, also offer infusions.
They serve a different demographic. Because we're on the southside, we have a monopoly on that area. Also, because we're African-American, we're nurturers in our community. I think we also attract similar individuals. We're excited by that because we get to spend time talking about self-care care and educating them on others things we might not otherwise be able to do.
CC: Tell me about the décor?
Dr. Chantale: Our wellness center differs from a traditional doctor's office, traditionally sterile and white. It's white on white. Many people don't look forward to going to the doctor because it is so sterile. When you enter our space, we use color. Things are very fluid. There are aromas and sounds in our space. We want our patients to realize that wellness is a mind-body connection. Once you come in, we want you to feel relaxed, that our center be an oasis to completely rejuvenate and replenish their systems on all levels.
CC: Quench Wellness sounds different from many other places. Did you study alternative medicine in medical school?
Dr. Chantale: We did, but there is also a background answer for how we approach this work. My mom is from Guyana, South America. My Dad is from Barbados in the West Indies. And my partner, Dr. Gameli, is from Ghana. So within our cultural practices, there is a lot of herbal and alternative medicine. So, for example, if you had diabetes or high blood pressure, they'd make this herb or soup for you. And it's common practice to use turmeric all the time. So that's not new to me. And whenever I'm studying medicine, I'm always thinking, are there other ways to help people with these ailments. But because I’m still a physician, I recognize a role for both.
CC: How has Covid-19 and the ongoing pandemic impacted your business?
Dr. Chantale: COVID has impacted our business in the most unusual ways. Like many businesses in our area, we experienced a significant decline in business at the onset of COVID. During this period, we reduced clinic hours, and out of an abundance of caution and the safety of our patients and staff, we changed our booking system to by appointment only, no longer accepting walk-ins. Pre-booked appointments allowed for one patient to be in the clinic space at a time and allowed for sufficient time to sanitize between services. Every patient who entered the room required a mask, temperature checks, and symptoms screening before providing services. Our patients responded well to the new schedule change. They appreciated the individualized attention. As we are still amid the pandemic, we offer individualized appointments to our patient base.
As the saying goes, necessity begets ingenuity. COVID brought awareness, to the population at wide, about the importance of a healthy immune system and the importance of making daily efforts to fortify that immune system. It attracted a lot of new patient populations that had a new appreciation of health and wanted our assistance in incorporating quality vitamins into their system.
CC: Did it impact your services?
Dr. Chantale: It led our development team to re-evaluate our vitamin infusion protocols- introducing infusion blends such as the Just C infusion with high potency Vitamin C for an immune boost the Immunity Blend infusion, which incorporates high potency Vitamin C, Zinc, and glutathione and lastly, The Meyers Blend infusion, which is known as the mother of all anti-inflammatory vitamin infusions. The Meyers Blend is packed full of B Vitamins, C, Calcium, to name a few ingredients. These vitamin infusions have been an essential component of every patient's immunity-boosting toolkit.
We even started to offer Vitamin D shots to help boost our Vitamin D depleted midwesterners. As you may know, Vitamin D plays a multifaceted role in the body- from bone health mood stabilization to immune-boosting benefits. COVID has allowed us to build long-term partnerships with patients invested in maintaining their health during the pandemic and beyond.
CC: Beyond that, have you adjusted your service offerings in any way?
Dr. Chantale: Our vitamin infusion menu has been reduced to our high in-demand infusion blends. The vitamin shots have expanded. Both menus are available on our website. We no longer offer vaginal laser therapy services. Our hormone optimization service continues to be a life-changing intervention for many men and women, and that service is still available.
CC: Did you add anything new?
Dr. Chantale: The newest addition to the practice is the launch of our Integrative Concierge Medicine Practice. It is an integrative primary care experience that is personalized, comprehensive, and lifestyle-focused. Unlike many traditional primary care office visits, our appointments are one hour long and thorough. During that time, we focus on current health conditions and devote strong attention to preventative lifestyle practices. We have various pathways within the concierge practice: Lifestyle-Focused, Women's Health-Focused, Men's Health-Focused, Weight Loss-Focused. Our health program builds its foundation on a solid patient-physician bond- a relationship based on transparency, information-sharing, joint decision making, and unified commitment towards health and well-being. It is a high-touch, high-value system.
In the future, we hope to continue to expand our services to include more nutritional support and fitness classes.