A former anesthesia provider at UW Health is opening a ketamine clinic in Fitchburg to give the hallucinogenic drug to patients with serious mental health problems, as is increasingly being done nationwide.
Revival Infusion Madison, scheduled to open Feb. 14 at 5936 Seminole Centre Court, will be the first standalone ketamine clinic in the Madison area, joining similar clinics in Appleton, Green Bay and Milwaukee. A UW Health psychiatrist has used ketamine to treat patients with major depression at UW Hospital since 2017.
Sarah Wilczewski, a certified registered nurse anesthetist who worked at UW Health until this month, said she’s opening the clinic to increase mental health treatment in the area. Ketamine infusions will be offered to people with major depressive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, postpartum depression, suicidal ideation and anxiety. They must have referrals from mental health providers and have failed at least two traditional antidepressants.
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“It’s about increasing the awareness that this is an option for people,” Wilczewski said.
She said two recent personal events led her to change her career path. A traumatic experience at work at UW Health in October resulted in her developing PTSD, she said, declining to provide details. She had a hard time finding treatment but eventually tried eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, a type of psychotherapy, which helped.
“You hear all the time that there’s this huge gap in the mental health realm, and difficult for people to find access. You don’t really realize that’s a thing until you’re there,” Wilczewski said.
In November, her husband’s cousin, who had postpartum depression and three young children, died by suicide in Nebraska. “It really pushed me to want to do something,” she said.
Ketamine is approved by the Food and Drug Administration as an anesthetic, allowing medical providers to use it in other ways. It is classified as a dissociative anesthetic but often referred to as a psychedelic. For depression and other mental health conditions, patients typically undergo six infusions in three weeks and sometimes require booster doses.
It’s not clear how the drug can help with mental health disorders, but it may boost a neurotransmitter called glutamate, improving neuron connections.
Insurance generally doesn’t cover the ketamine treatments. The new clinic will charge $495 per infusion or $2,700 for six treatments.
Ketamine Wellness Center in Appleton, Aviva Infusions in Green Bay and Ketamine Milwaukee offer similar services. Other providers, such as Dr. Aaron Rosenberg in Mequon, offer ketamine treatments. Dr. Steven Garlow, a UW Health psychiatrist, said he has about 40 patients at any given time who are treated with ketamine at UW Hospital, for a total of about 400 infusions a year.
Meanwhile, the Usona Institute, a nonprofit formed by Promega Corp. CEO Bill Linton in 2014 to study psychedelics for mental health conditions, is building a 93,000-square-foot facility on 17 acres adjacent to Promega’s Fitchburg campus. The center is expected to open late next year.
UW-Madison’s School of Pharmacy last fall started the country’s first pharmacy master’s program in psychoactive medicine, according to Cody Wenthur, an assistant professor of pharmacy and director of the program.
In August, the pharmacy school said it was starting a Transdisciplinary Center for Research in Psychoactive Substances to expand research on psychedelic drugs such as psilocybin and MDMA.
Ketamine infusions will be offered to people with major depressive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, postpartum depression, suicidal ideation and anxiety.