On the cusp of the psychedelic renaissance, Imagine Healthcare, the only ketamine clinic in Chicago run by a palliative medicine-trained physician focused on improving the quality of life for both patients and their family, is celebrating one year in business this month.
Unlike a typical doctor’s office or health clinic, Imagine Healthcare’s team of doctors and clinicians work with clients , their current providers and others in their support system to develop a care and therapy program to achieve progress toward a bright and healthy future that is administered in a calming, relaxing environment. Imagine Healthcare is the only women-owned, women-run ketamine clinic in Chicago.
“New frontiers in psychiatry and psychedelics are opening up novel forms of healthcare to many individuals. Ketamine can reset the mind and body in ways many traditional medicines cannot. I am thrilled to be serving clients in Chicagoland with ketamine and other therapies for the past year and looking forward to the years ahead,” says Dr. Rachel Norris, founder and chief medical officer of Imagine Healthcare.
Imagine Healthcare’s flagship offering is ketamine therapy, including FDA approved Spravato, but the clinic is a complete wellness destination offering hydration infusions and vitamin/mineral injections as well as various psychotherapy services .
“In an era when we’re both more accepting of alternative healthcare modalities and seeing the rights of women to access healthcare taken away, I believe it is critically important that in order to provide you truly individualized care, it is important to get to know you as a person, not just a patient,” says Dr. Norris. “Our clients become comfortable talking to us about more than just their mental health and we are always happy to connect them with other treatment modalities that we may not offer.”
Mindset, setting and integration are at the center of Imagine Healthcare and Norris’ and her team’s approach to healthcare. The entire office, located in the Fulton River District at 708 W Grand Ave, was designed with client comfort and security in mind. All treatments happen in a care room that was specially developed for a psychologically safe environment - the medical equipment is largely hidden from plain sight behind aesthetically pleasing, eco-friendly and sustainable décor and it was specifically sourced to be as quiet and unobtrusive as possible. During a treatment, clients relax in comfortable chairs with curated music playlists.
“A peaceful, welcoming, safe setting is key for our clients,” says Norris. “Ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic and feeling safe and comfortable when you’re in an altered state is critically important.” At Imagine, clients are continually monitored for experience and outcomes during all treatments.
Prior to opening Imagine Healthcare a year ago, Norris practiced palliative care and emergency medicine, truly trained in the human experience. Thirty hour trauma shifts at Cook County Hospital shaped how Dr. Norris sees human pain and suffering.
Prior to medicine, she worked in art restoration and was a division I volleyball player in college. After years at other clinics and hospitals, Dr Norris decided to take the leap to opening her own clinic in 2020. Like many, the COVID-19 pandemic collided with her plans and progress was slow, but last July Imagine Healthcare moved into its permanent, custom space.
Norris is joined by another emergency and palliative physician, Dr. Heather Costello, nurse and practice manager Chrissa Flannery, paramedic Meaghan Bindokas, and mental health providers Dave Evans, LCPC; William Farrand, LCPC; and Elizabeth Selph, LPC.
Dr. Costello’s healing interests are rooted in mindfulness, yoga, exercise, and Buddhism, and is currently working on certifications to teach both meditation and yoga.
“The offerings of Imagine Healthcare are unparalleled in the Midwest and offer an incredible path to wellness and healing not found elsewhere in medicine,” says Dr. Costello. “I love to use various adjunct healing practices such as breathwork, gentle yoga, sound healing, poetry, smudging ceremony, debriefing, sharing, and exploring. These have been found to augment the healing experience, especially since ketamine therapy can be a mystical and ineffable experience.”
Imagine Healthcare’s clients range from age 15 to 74 and are treated in a psychologically safe environment for many mental health diagnoses including PTSD, treatment-resistant depression, ADHD, seasonal affective disorder, OCD and generalized anxiety disorder as well as some chronic pain conditions.
The clinic also hosts a weekly ketamine support group and educational/experiential sessions regularly, such as one recently on electrolyzed reduced water and sacred cacao plant medicine.