There are very few places in the world with such consistently phenomenal weather as La Jolla, California (sandiego.org/lajolla). Check out the weather charts if you don’t believe me. The temperature graph is virtually a straight line. Almost no rain, and the slight bump in highs and dip in lows at the tail ends of the year are mostly due to the marine layer coming off the gorgeous Pacific Ocean. Waterfront restaurants wend their way down the coast, and world-class shopping awaits. Just minutes from downtown San Diego, the village has been a haven for artists and tourists alike since the early 1900’s.
Hotels dot beach breaks all the way up and down the coast, but few come close to matching the verve and excitement you’ll find at the La Jolla Shores Hotel (ljshoreshotel.com). Smack-dab in the middle of California’s most beautiful weather lies one of Fodor’s top 12 family friendly spots in the nation. You can choose to stay in - the accommodations here are gorgeous and designed to be “an extension of the sprawling Pacific Ocean” just steps away. The decor and ambiance of the 128 rooms and suites (19 with kitchenettes) are inspired by California’s laid back attitude and movies on-demand en suite for the kids (or use the DVD player and lending library). Or you can opt for outdoor endeavors on property at the pool or jacuzzi or … as the beach is literally your backyard, enjoy spectacular front-row views of sand, surf and sunsets; complete with seaside service and complimentary chairs, umbrella and towels.
Try out the Shores Restaurant where award-winning Executive Chef Bernard Guillas and Chef de Cuisine Percy Oani incorporate the best seasonal and local fare into every menu (dishes showcase the finest regional ingredients from around La Jolla and San Diego, including fresh-caught seafood). Popular entrees include almond butterfish accompanied by fingerling potatoes, sunburst squash and lobster cream and sesame salmon paired with zucchini noodles, beechwood mushroom, sweet peppers and yuzu butter. More of a meat eater? Try a grilled to taste craft Angus burger or tender Angus short ribs. Chef Guillas also serves up “finger-lickin’” good meals for foodies 10 and under. The Marine Room offers an intimate date night overlooking a seaside panorama.
Just down the way, one of the area’s most famous attractions provides a taste for everyone’s palate: family friendly fun with some of the coolest critters around. SeaWorld (seaworld.com). Rides, shows, eats, drinks, characters and more await at one of the country’s most famous theme parks. For the older kids, try the newest Electric Eel coaster, with insane inversions, energetic twists, and incredible loops. Got the little ones in tow? Elmo’s Flying Fish in the Sesame Street Bay of Play is the place to be. From the gondola to the rafts on the river, SeaWorld has something for every age.
For guests who want to get up close and personal with some of the world’s most amazing seafaring creatures, SeaWorld offers educational and entertaining animal experiences and tours. Enter the chilly Arctic waters to interact with white beluga whales, venture behind the scenes for a face-to-beak encounter with a penguin, take a trainer-led poolside trek to touch and feed bottlenose dolphins or have a face-to-face connection with majestic killer whales. In all encounters, behaviorists share personal stories and unique facts about the animals.
While you’re in town, catch Clyde + Seymour spoof your favorite TV show, or learn more with your little environmentalist about the award winning rescue team through Sea Rescue, available in the Mission Bay Theatre. Killer whales to dolphins, beluga whales and penguins, every animal has a special place in the blue waters of the most playful park around.
Squarely in our middle-age, my husband, Tim, and I often joke about the attendant aches and pains that seem to accompany growing older. But when sciatica set in (for him) and a pulled muscle post-exercise had me favoring one leg over the other, it became decidedly less of a laughing matter.
A wrestler in high school and an outdoor enthusiast in adult life, my husband swears by the “RICE” method recommended by his coaches and physicians over the years. Short for “rest, ice, compression, elevation,” the steps have been stock-standard in our home for as long as I can remember. When I sprained my ankle, his advice? Stay off of my ankle, ice it 20 minutes on, 20 off, wrap it up, and prop it up on a few comfy pillows. In past years, however, American physicians have been tapping into a new “I” in that equation - or “C,” rather. Cryotherapy.
Submitting the body to cold temperatures, be it a polar plunge into an alpine lake, an ice bucket challenge, or just a sprained ankle in a Home Depot bucket on the sidelines, works to reboot the body’s sympathetic nervous system. Responsible for triggering the “fight or flight” response, our nerves can bring rest and relief or rage; stress or serotonin. As the first Orange County-based whole body cryotherapy center (and one of the first in nation), Cold Rush Wellness Cryotherapy in Laguna Niguel is a full service, physician-run cryostimulation clinic dedicated to whole body health, starting deep in the core of its clients.
A Historical Perspective
Developed in its current form by Dr. Toshima Yamaguchi in 1978 to treat rheumatoid arthritis, Whole Body Cryotherapy (WBC) quickly gained recognition in the Japanese - and subsequently European - medical communities for its benefits beyond treating arthritis. Physicians began using WBC to treat a broader range of ailments including chronic inflammation, fibromyalgia, psoriasis and to revitalize skin. In Germany, for example, cyrosaunas are available in 60 hospitals for the treatment of autoimmune disease and post-surgical recovery.
Unlike traditional ice baths, WBC is a dry process - because dry cold doesn’t penetrate the body like cold water or cold air with moisture, WBC temperatures are able to be much colder than what the human body could normally tolerate without extreme discomfort. Patients step into a cryotherapy sauna to expose their body to hyper-cooled air -200 degrees to -240 degrees Farenheit, triggering the body’s natural healing mechanisms as though it were freezing. Blood accumulates in the body’s core in order to warm itself and capillaries expand to nearly four times their normal diameter. This allows white blood cells to flow through the body faster, accelerating the healing process. During the two to three minutes your body is exposed to these extreme temperatures, the brain triggers the release of endorphins, adrenaline and other hormones for an increase in energy, a boost to the immune system and promote overall healing.
“Cryotherapy centers in Europe are all physician-run and deemed safe by the medical community,” says Owner Scott Young, D.C. who relocated his chiropractic and rehabilitative practice to Orange County over four years ago after 20 years in The Netherlands. “Benefits include decreased inflammation, improved athletic performance and rapid recovery from workouts, improved post-surgical healing and pain relief, faster healing of strains and sprains, improved metabolism, increased energy and is particularly helpful in relieving the symptoms of chronic skin conditions such as shingles, psoriasis, eczema, rosacea and dermatitis. At Cold Rush Wellness, we adhere to the European model and take all precautions to keep it a safe and effective treatment.”
Dr. Young, who operates his holistic health practice by “finding the problem, fixing it and leaving it alone,” discovered the benefits of whole body cryotherapy for himself while living in Amsterdam. He found the health benefits rejuvenating and importantly, backed by sound science.
With years of experience treating such varied conditions as rheumatoid arthritis, insomnia, post-surgical rehabilitation, strains, sprains, eczema, shingles, and dermatitis, it is no wonder that Cold Rush Wellness has been embraced by a growing number of patients.
One of the benefits of publishing South County Magazine is that it affords me an opportunity to share my own experiences at local businesses or in meeting business owners and entrepreneurs in the area. In this case, my husband and I both decided to give WBC a try. Over the course of 30 days (with treatments three times per week), I can personally attest to increased energy levels and surprisingly better sleep. For his part, my husband has long suffered from low back pain resulting in significantly decreased range of motion. A month into treatment, he can bend and stretch further than he has been able to in years without pain and feels “much less stiff.”
Athletes swear by it for a boost in metabolism and rapid recovery from strenuous workouts. Given the results Tim and I have experienced, I’m anxious to see how we feel in another 30 days. I’ll tell you one thing though … so far, WBC has proven to be quite the upgrade from a bag of frozen peas on my ankle.
Scott Young, D.C. can be reached by calling (949) 281-6853. Cold Rush Wellness is located at 30251 Golden Lantern in Laguna Niguel.
For more information, visit www.coldrushwellness.com
Looks can definitely be deceiving. From the road, Backstreet Home Decor appears to be a small storefront, its windows displaying beautiful decorative items, jewelry, handbags and accessories. Step inside, however, and if you’re anything like me, you’ll discover that you could literally spend hours looking at all of owner Susan Smith’s wonderful offerings, which range in style from Old World to contemporary.
Each piece is reflective of Susan’s keen eye for color, quality, texture, design detail and style - a fact not lost on the scores of professional designers who regularly shop here to decorate their client’s homes.
Homeowners who have taken advantage of Susan’s in-home consultation rave that she was able to suggest just the right furniture, decor, florals and color palette to create the look they were dreaming of - a fact that I can personally - and happily - attest to.
When our family moved from San Clemente to San Juan Capistrano, Susie’s showroom the first and only stop I needed to make for the decorative items and accessories that would make our new house a “home.” Susie’s vision of color, texture, line, shape, natural proportion and balance resulted in the beautiful floral arrangements and wall hangings that adorn our home, along with just the right accent and “statement pieces” to visually tie everything together.
While everything in her store speaks of high quality, her prices are surprisingly affordable. Because of longstanding relationships with vendors from the top decor lines across the county, Susan is able to acquire furniture and accessories at substantial discounts - which she in turn passes along to her customers.
“We only LOOK expensive,” she says. “What sets us apart is that all of our florals are custom designed on the premises. We work with our clientele to create exactly what they want. We really try to come up with the unusual - unique items that you just won’t find in every single store.” That philosophy extends to her holiday offerings - from gorgeous decorative items and seasonal specialty home accents and ornaments to fun pieces like her holiday gnomes.
Connect with Susie by stopping by the showroom at 307 N. El Camino Real in San Clemente, by calling (949) 498-2210 or visit www.backstreethomedecor.com
I’m about to date myself, but maybe not in the way you think. I grew up watching Mr. Rogers and Sesame Street. I missed out on the classic western shows of the fifties: like Gunsmoke, Marshal Dillon, The Roy Rogers Show. “Happy trails to you, ‘till we meet again,” sang the theme to Roy Rogers, wishing godspeed and goodwill to all who watched. That song came to mind when I stepped through the doors of the 11,000 square foot retail space that American Horse Products occupies in San Juan Capistrano.
Launched in 1999, right around the time Roy Rogers celebrated its 42 year anniversary, American Horse Products opened its doors to the public. Having recently sold their handheld computing company, it was a pivotal year for owners Jim and Diane Carter as they contemplated their next career path. "Diane’s love was horses and on occasion, she referred to me as her ‘Cowboy from Oklahoma,’ so it seemed a natural fit to pursue these possibilities in a new business,” opening their original 2000-square-foot store location that year in Laguna Niguel.
Diane was uniquely suited to stocking the store with products she had personally used and preferred. The pair also asked customers to help test products, a tradition they still employ today, to ensure that “if we were to provide a service to the horse community, we should offer merchandise that went well beyond their guarantees and provide a customer experience that would make folks want to come back.”
Toward that end, store associates are all horse people that “you can really talk to” about all things equine - from issues and concerns to products and more. As the company grew, the couple discovered that there was an even larger horse community just a few miles south in San Juan Capistrano so they expanded their family-run operation into an 11,000-square-foot space in the Capistrano Center in 2007.
That year, their eldest daughter Brooke graduated with a degree in Agriculture Business and Marketing from Cal Poly San Louis Obispo. After cutting her teeth in the industry for a few years, the team roping enthusiast came home to join the management team and currently serves as the store’s general manager.
Offering the largest inventory of English and Western products in Orange County, they’ll get you set up with everything from the newest turkey tail supplement, an upcoming Grand Prix at the Riding Park, or even a new trail to explore. Along with throwing out a “happy trails” to you each time you’re in, the knowledgeable staff will ensure they inject a little excitement into the equestrian world. Going so far as to install a corral at the San Juan Hills Golf Course, they’ve ensured that all the bases, and basics, are covered. From allergies to boots, breeches to hoof oil, they’ve got what it takes to make the trail a little happier, guaranteed.
American Horse Products is located at 31896 Plaza Drive, Suite C-4 in San Juan Capistrano. To connect with Jim, Diane, Brooke or their team, call (949) 248-5300 or visit www.americanhorseproducts.com
I remember when one of my college friends was appointed Payroll Specialist for a large company in Pasadena. When we were talking about the job, he noted that all he could think of was that scene in A Christmas Carol, Scrooge watching Bob Cratchit balance his books on Christmas Eve, too scared to ask for the following day off. Obviously, his daily tasks turned out to be nothing like the Dickens novel, but it is worth noting the stigma that he associated his bookkeeping business with. Nadia Milner is no stranger to the association. She’d like to point out however, that while she specializes in bookkeeping, she’s much much less Ebenezer Scrooge, and more Jennifer Lopez from The Wedding Planner: on top of everything you need far before you ever thought you needed it.
Having spent the last 15 years as a bookkeeper and executive assistant, Nadia handles all aspects of the job description: A/P, A/R, Bank Deposits, Bank Reconciliations, Payroll and more. But she prides herself in the level of service made available to her clients beyond the books: making bank deposits at their behest, and even creating travel arrangements for executives.
“I truly believe that what sets me apart is my loyalty,” says Nadia. "Anyone can be single-minded, and stay task oriented for one job or one client. The dedication I show is treating each client as if they were the one and only.”
Responding to clients emailed requests within one hour is no easy feat, but Nadia would prefer to be available, efficient, and accurate to the highest level, ensuring client satisfaction. “I can come by the office with only a single days notice if a client needs me to handle something right away that cannot be done remotely.”
One of Scrooge’s major shortcomings of course, other than his lack of compassion, was a quality of short sightedness: something Nadia counters in spades.
“It is my primary focus to get clients taken care of on a a daily basis. In the long run, eliminating the stress of finances for my clients enables them to stride confidently forward in their own business, knowing their books are in order from start to finish.”
Organization is an obvious game changer. Look no further than the million copies sold of Marie Kondo’s international bestseller, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Putting her clients minds and books in order, she undoubtedly had made clients for life. “I’ve had clients who, before hiring me, never knew where they stood financially. They just hand me all their papers and I set them up from scratch. Now their peace of mind is something they can’t live without."
Nadia’s drive and dedication are apparently family traits, too. Her eldest just graduated from San Clemente High School as a valedictorian and has had the same job for two years. Her youngest, 15, ended the year with straight A’s and also volunteers at the Shea Center, something that “opens us to making a long term impact in our community.”
Currently Nadia is involved with the Orphan Care Initiative and Wells of Life which brings running clean water to villages in Africa. In the past, she has also prepped food for the homeless and served lunches to Wounded Warriors at The Food Pantry in San Clemente, and been a greeter or receptionist at various American Red Cross locations across the OC. “Sure, I love going to the beach and spending time with friends and family, but giving back is one of the most important things in my life."
There isn’t much that Nadia can’t accomplish in the bookkeeping world, with her keenly developed sense of anticipation and broad sense of loyalty to her clients. That combined with the work she puts in outside the office too, she might as well be the signifier of Dickens’ conscious ghostly guide, “Mankind my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence,” making clients for life, and easing the burden of stress on us all.
Nadia Milner is CEO & Owner of the San Clemente-based Top Notch Services. She can be reached by calling (949) 303-3211 or visit tnsandcompany.com
A Q & A with Dr. Michael DeYoung, M.D., LaSara Medical Group
Men with erectile dysfunction (ED) often suffer in silence. For many, it’s a taboo topic associated with a stigma that affects their self esteem. So much so that they don’t even share the details of what they are experiencing with their primary care physician or urologist.
What these men might find surprising is how much they have in common with approximately 18 million other men across the country. Erectile dysfunction impacts men of all ages from their 20s to their 90s. But here’s a particularly staggering statistic: It is estimated that 50% of men will be affected by ED by the age of 50. That means that when a group of 50-something year old men get together, nearly half of the men in the room are likely struggling with ED.
The physicians at LaSara Medical Group have seen men from age 27 to 95 walk through their doors. For those with a vascular disorder, or blood flow disorder, as the root cause of their ED, LaSara offers a clinically proven treatment option without drugs, without surgeries and without needles.
As the Southern California leader in low intensity focused shockwave therapy, LaSara has seen incredible results for its patients utilizing the only proven method of reversing ED for the long-term. Before obtaining treatment anywhere, Dr. Michael DeYoung, Medical Director at LaSara, strongly encourages men to do their due diligence, investigating the efficacy and research behind provider care.
While most of LaSara’s competitors base their businesses on the same research, they use an entirely different machine with a type of energy (radial, acoustic or pressure waves) that produces less than half the success rate that LaSara’s patients enjoy. If that weren’t enough of a difference, the machine that LaSara’s competitors utilize requires the use of numbing cream to (hopefully) minimize what can be a rather painful process - unlike LaSara’s pain-free treatment option. “Our goal is to restore natural functionality in a safe, discreet environment for our patients. Our professional, all male staff is committed to providing a medical experience that surpasses all your expectations.”
In the following interview, Dr. DeYoung addresses frequently asked questions concerning the patient experience and shares specifics about low intensity focused shockwave therapy.
Q: How long has LaSara Medical Group been in existence and what does it specialize in?
A: Since January 2018. We specialize in Men’s sexual health providing treatment for erectile dysfunction and peyronies disease.
We’ve treated more men in southern California with focused shockwaves than anyone else around. On a daily basis, we have 14-18 men coming through our doors in each location. We use the exact machinery and protocol that’s been clinically studied and proven.
Q: What is low intensity focused shockwave therapy, is it a new treatment and how does it work?
A: The treatment is relatively new to the United States, but not to the world. It’s been studied and used for 15 years, originally in Europe (Switzerland, Germany, UK, Denmark, etc.), Canada, Asia (Japan, Korea, India), Australia, and most recently here in the US in the last couple of years.
The majority of men who experience ED have a vascular disorder or blood flow disorder. What happens is their blood vessels have prematurely hardened, there is plaque that builds up, or they have other medical conditions that attack the vascular system, such as Diabetes. When this happens, a man loses his ability for blood to easily travel into his penis allowing for an erection to occur.
We use low intensity focused shock waves to trigger the body to grow new blood vessels into the penis. The shockwaves create a small micro trauma. When this happens, new blood vessels begin to grow throughout a man’s penis. This is the process of neovascularization. Over time, the body miraculously repairs and heals the countless blood vessels damaged and prematurely hardened by the accumulation of plaque. As the plaque becomes eliminated, more and more blood vessels grow back... The ultimate goal is get a man back to achieving erections naturally and without the use of medication, like Viagra or Cialis.
Q: How do you determine if a prospective patient will benefit from treatment?
A: The process starts with a complete medical evaluation and history to determine whether a vascular disorder is the cause of a prospective patient’s ED. We weed out if he is experiencing ED as a result of a psychological or neurological issue. If the ED is determined to be caused by a vascular disorder and he does not have other major medical risk factors, then he is a good candidate for this treatment. Our patients range in age from 27 to 95 and 80% of our patients experience positive results from the treatment.
Q: What are the benefits of treatment? What is the process and when might a patient expect to see results?
A: The primary benefit or goal of treatment is to restore a patient’s ability to have spontaneous intimate experiences, restored confidence and a natural sex life. Unlike other treatment options, there’s no timing to take a pill when you want to perform. No injections to medically induce an erection, which can obviously be very intrusive when you are “in the moment.” Treatment is non-invasive - no surgery and no side effects.
In terms of what a patient can expect of the process, the first step is to schedule a consultation - a 10 to 30-minute phone call with a member of our team will give us an idea of whether or not he is a good candidate for the treatment. After he is determined to be a quality candidate and that the root cause of his ED is likely a vascular disorder, the patient will visit our office for an in-person consultation with one of our physicians.
The next step would be to begin treatment, which typically involves six visits over the course of three to five weeks. Then we wait for 90 days as the body takes six to 12 weeks to fully react to the treatment, at which time he’ll come back in for a follow up visit with the doctor. Because
LaSara is committed to achieving the best result for its patients, they will perform a second round of treatments, if necessary, at no additional charge.
Call for your FREE phone consultation to determine if LaSara’s treatment is right for you.
Dr. Michael DeYoung, M.D. is the Medical Director for LaSara Medical Group with offices in Tustin and Beverly Hills. A Fellow of the American College of Emergency Medicine, Dr. DeYoung worked full time in emergency medicine for 43 years before retiring in 2017 to focus on his “second career” in the field of men’s sexual health. The Tustin office is located at 14642 Newport Avenue, Suite 250. The Beverly Hills office is located at 150 N. Robertson Blvd., Suite 205. For more information, call (855) 200-1111 or visit www.lasara.com.
Mention ski season to me, and my eyes glaze over. Not in the way they would if I was a sixth grader watching a documentary in history class with the lights dimmed, nearly into waking sleep; like I can hear the shush of powder between my skis on a run through the glades with no one around for what feels like miles. That said, for a skier, it would take a passion bigger than powder to get them off the slopes during ski season, and into an office.
For Stephanie Frisch, that passion has become helping individuals and families find their way in the incredibly confusing world of health insurance. Hard to believe? After all, who would give up a season of perfect days on the mountain for conversations about Medicare and the oft topsy-turvy world of Social Security, monthly adjustments, and aging in (or out) of the myriad plans on the market? Hear it straight from the source: “I’ve been a skier for 45 years now, but the Medicare enrollment period falls at the same time of year, so I’m turning my focus going forward.” Having her ability to check out and go skiing isn’t as much of a sacrifice as she thought though, when looking at the big picture. “I started as an agent in 2006, and established my business, Insurance 101 Services, in 2008. There is an epidemic of unawareness around the Medicare system. I’m dedicated to finding a cure for my clients.”
An ailing medical system can be just as detrimental to its population as the actual health issues. With Medicare, those that turn 65 and are eligible are as at risk of confusion as those who delay enrollment because they or their spouse have continued to work for a large company and receive benefits from it. “Another common situation I’ve been remedying is helping families whose loved ones have moved into an assisted living or board and care facility: and now they need to change the way they have access to benefits.” Stephanie has an incredible wealth of knowledge about the system, a high degree of experience with the plans available on the market, and has focused her attention - and intention - on becoming a trail guide to those stuck on the bunny hill, as it were.
Stephanie stays abreast of all things Medicare, not just the plans offered by the companies that she is contracted with. There are steps to activating Part B for the first time, steps to paying the Part D premiums. “People that make incomes higher than the benchmark set by Social Security also tend to pay more - I can explain how that all works, what the amounts are, and how they can avoid responsibility for that extra amount if there are certain life events, such as retirement.” Only about 10% of clients Stephanie assists, she estimates, know about the level adjustments on premium pricing (or Income Related Monthly Adjustment Amounts). “We can lay down an estimate for how much my client can expect, and a detailed trail map as to avoiding the penalties entirely.”
Stephanie serves over a thousand clients, and her list keeps growing every year. Keeping her notes on conversations saved for each one on the latest software and phone syncing technology helps.
“When a client calls, I greet them by name, even if I haven’t seen or spoken to them in years,” says Stephanie. “I completely personalize my service by keeping your records up to date, including current plan, doctors, medications, and so much more. I might have stepped off the slopes (and recently, onto the green), but I’m not slowing down when it comes to the level of commitment and dedication I show each person that I come into contact with.”
In the following interview with South County Magazine, Stephanie addresses some frequently asked questions and recent trends in the industry.
South County Magazine: I’ve heard that there is a longer enrollment window for Medicare starting this year, is that true?
Stephanie Frisch: Well, yes and no, and I fear there will be a LOT of confusion regarding this at least for the first few years. The “Annual Enrollment” period (also referred to as the Open Enrollment period in past years) runs October 15 to December 7th. The 2019 plan details for Medicare Advantage and Medicare drug plans are released to the public October 1st, but applications can’t be accepted and/or submitted until 10/15.
CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) is bringing back an enrollment period that they have utilized off and on in the past to help those Medicare beneficiaries who may have made the wrong choice in picking their Medicare plan(s) during the Annual Enrollment period. This enrollment period will formally be called, “Open Enrollment”. It will run from January 1st to March 31st, and during this time period, Medicare Advantage enrollees will be allowed to dis-enroll from their current plan and move to a different Medicare Advantage plan. Or, they can move back over to Original Medicare (Medicare Part A and B) essentially dropping their MAPD plan. OEP isn’t an extension of AEP. It doesn’t provide the same flexibility as the AEP where you can make any changes you want. To clarify: During the 2019 OEP, you’re able to make “like plan” changes (The same plan change you made during AEP). So that would be: MAPD to MAPD; MAPD to Original Medicare and a Part D; Original Medicare and a Part D to MAPD.
SCM: I’m always hearing about the so-called “Donut Hole” for Medicare drug plans, what can you tell me about that?
SF: Drug coverage for Medicare beneficiaries didn’t become mandatory until 2006. At that time, the Federal government and drug manufacturers began subsidizing the cost of medications. Four different stages were established; Deductible, Initial Coverage, Coverage Gap (Donut Hole) and Catastrophic. For several years it has been publicized that the “donut hole” was going away in 2020. But recently the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 moved up the date for closing the so-called “donut hole” for brand name drugs to 2019.
So, in 2019 the standard benefit requires the beneficiary to pay 25% of their prescription drug costs between $415 (the RX deductible in 2019 if the drug plan has one) and $3,820. This amounts to about $850.00 annually. Then, for 2019 and every year after, the beneficiary cost sharing for brand name drugs after the initial coverage limit has been met, is 25% -- Same as in the initial coverage stage, so hence, there goes the “donut hole”! How did the government make this “magic” happen? Well, part of the drug costs in the “Coverage Gap-donut hole” – are absorbed by the drug manufacturers providing a 70% discount on brand name drugs. Future drug plan premiums may show another way the “donut hole” was eliminated, but that is my personal speculation, not fact.
There is still the “Catastrophic stage” however. In this stage the Medicare beneficiary has nominal costs. Once beneficiary expenditures (which include those big drug manufacturer discounts) reach a total of $5,000, the beneficiary is through the coverage gap and reaches catastrophic coverage. On any future prescriptions the beneficiary pays either a co-pay of $3.35 for generic drugs or $8.35 for brand name drugs or a co-insurance of 5%, whichever is greater.
SCM: Last year you brought on Carlos Aguilar as an associate of Insurance 101 Services, what is his role in your company currently?
SF: Carlos is a very valuable asset to my business. There are no longer enough hours in the day for me to help everyone that contacts me, so I rely on Carlos to help those individuals and families so that they get the timely assistance and personalized service that I pride my company with providing. His focus in assisting me is helping individuals and families under age 60, and those more comfortable in learning about their Medicare and insurance options in Spanish.
SCM: I know you’ve had your office in San Juan Capistrano now for four years, but do you still make house calls?
SF: Sure, but most of my house calls now are a result of assisted living facilities such as Atria San Juan and “board and cares” learning of my free services from Dr. Haga and Dr. Yang.
Over the last several years we’ve started helping each other to get Medicare beneficiaries settled in and comfortable in their new homes. It’s a difficult process moving a loved one into one of these facilities for many reasons and eliminating as much stress as possible is crucial. I help guide the families down that path, letting them know the steps to take with Social Security. We also look at making changes to their loved ones current Medicare plan(s) so they are able to receive care in their new home. If the individual is moving from another county or state and on a Medicare Advantage plan, they will lose that coverage within a few months, and we need to put them on an Orange County based plan that best suits their needs, re-evaluating their drug plan coverage is also very important.
Let’s play a quick game: I’ll say a word and you write down the first thing that comes to mind. Ready? Beer. Now, I’ll bet you a pint that you immediately imagined some Oktoberfest, flush with icy cold brews and brats grilling in the background.
But while beer has a colorful history indeed in the cloisters and taverns of Germany, the story of beer actually began a few thousand years before the Reinheitsgebot. Since its earliest days in ancient Sumeria, the art of brewing has come a long way. The simple act of allowing water, malt, and hops to ferment coursed through many different iterations before landing in the age of “craft,” when more than 150 beer styles and 20,000 plus brands exist on the market, all for the simple enjoyment of drinking.
As of early this year, more than 6,000 separate breweries hold the recipes for all the craft beer in the United States. No longer bound to Germany’s “Purity Law,” you’ll find ingredients in brews today ranging from avocado honey to hemp. Andrew and Kim Reed believe there has never been a better time to appreciate the craft, and as such, opened the doors to The BrewHouse in 2014. The premier spot in Orange County to learn about beer and experience a range of flavors, Andrew’s “beertenders” are more than happy to show you some of the raw ingredients, introduce you to the Digital Pour feature, and serve up a (giant) signature pretzel, which, the last time I checked, was as shareable as it was delicious and accompanied by a Bavarian and classic yellow mustard for dipping. Try a panini, hot from the sandwich press, complete with locally sourced beef jerky on the side and your choice in kettle chip.
Not feeling up to an entire pint? Let Andrew and Kim set you up with a flight of flavors, from breweries all across California. Santa Monica to Moorpark, San Clemente to Santa Ana, Buellton to Boonville to Torrance and back. A four-beer flight is just 20 ounces, and you’ll be covered with The BrewHouse’s range of flavors: light and tart sours, dank IPAs, malty golden ales, rich stouts and more. With a rotating selection of food trucks on Wednesday and Friday evenings and trivia night on Wednesday, there’s never a shortage of entertainment to be found. Let’s play that game again.
Ready? Beer. I’ll bet you an icy-cold-rotating-tap-locally-sourced-pint your first thought was The BrewHouse.
For more info, stop by 31896 Plaza Drive, #D3 in San Juan Capistrano, call (949) 481-6181 or visit www.thebrewhousesjc.com. The BrewHouse is located in what just might be one of this historic city’s “best kept secrets” for fine furnishings, unique retail, health and wellness: The Capistrano Center. These speciality retailers are situated along the back side of the Plaza Del Obispo Shopping Center at the corner of Del Obispo and Camino Capistrano.
When you’re feeling under the weather and need your prescription filled, there is something said for speedy service that is professional and above all: caring. Chances are, you’ve spent more time than you wanted to in the waiting room at your doctor’s office, you don’t feel well, and the last thing you want to do is stop somewhere else to fill your prescriptions.
All of it is enough to make you want to call your mother to come take care of you. Well, that’s exactly what the folks at OC Pharmacy had in mind when they opened for business.
“It’s about being family. It’s about offering and delivering a higher standard of care for our patients,” says MJ Kazemi, owner of San Juan Capistrano-based OC Pharmacy. “OC Pharmacy opened in August 2008 on the premise that patients are people, not prescriptions. Big drugstores pressure pharmacists and their staff to increase their daily prescription count. We’re not about that here. We want people to feel welcome and comfortable when they walk in. Because we are so specialized in care, we make the time to listen to your needs and address any questions you might have. It’s also our duty to make sure you get a good deal for your medicine.”
A traditional pharmacy can only dispense commercial drugs from large brand and generic drug companies (such as Pfizer, Teva, Greenstone, etc.) – referred to as “Big Pharma” in the industry. A compounding pharmacy, on the other hand, can dispense those commercial drugs in addition to creating customized doses and combinations of drugs within a lab at the pharmacy.
As an example of what a compounding pharmacy can do that a traditional pharmacy cannot, MJ states, that “If baby is born with organ failure. The doctor wants to prescribe a drug that doesn’t exist in a dose safe for newborns. MJ can take the tablet form of the prescribed medication and make it into a solution of a lower, baby-safe, dose. The next problem is that many medicines have a coating that masks the flavor of the medicine and helps with digestion. When these tablets are crushed, the nasty bitter flavor is exposed. Through trial and error (or the baby’s parents’ input), we become aware of the baby’s favorite flavor and are able to create a pediatric dose of a medication in solution form. They can then provide a special pacifier that will deliver the flavored medication to the baby without any fuss.”
“Some patients suffer from painful conditions where their nerves “fire” too fast, sending constant pain signals to the brain,” says MJ. “Most physicians will prescribe narcotics for the pain, but that doesn’t really address the problem. We can make a topical pain cream that both helps quell the pain and calm the nerves down so they aren’t firing so fast. With that type of compound, we address the problem – the nerve – and over time the patient requires less pain medication - thereby avoiding oral narcotic addiction. There are cases where patients will even self-taper from oral narcotics while using topical pain management compounds.”
To create a particular pharmaceutical product to “fit the unique needs of each individual,” MJ combines and/or processes appropriate ingredients, according to a physician’s prescription, utilizing various tools in the compounding lab. This may be done for medically necessary reasons (i.e. changing the form of a medication from a solid pill to a liquid), to avoid a non-essential ingredient that a person may be allergic to, or to obtain a specific dose of a particular ingredient, or combination of ingredients, and dispensed in way that makes it easier for the patient to ingest or apply.
The core of OC Pharmacy’s customer base runs the gamut from infants to seniors and everyone in between, for every imaginable ailment or disease condition that can be better treated with custom medications (compounds).
“People going through menopause and andropause see magnificent benefits from bio-identical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) compounds. Older folks with arthritis can find solace in our topical arthritis compounds. Diabetic patients can form painful open sores on their feet – sores that can heal much better with custom compounds designed to keep the wound clean and promote faster healing,” says MJ. “Fussy babies will take their medication with ease when it’s flavored and dispensed through our special baby-binky dispenser or baby bottle dispensing devices. Many young athletes who are hurt on the field can use topical pain compounds instead of taking oral narcotics (and potentially heal faster!). Men and women who suffer from sexual dysfunctions can use customized compounds to help them resolve things in the bedroom.
“The possibilities are endless. The sky is the limit. We believe compounding is the way medicine should be. Doctors don’t dole out the same diagnosis to everyone, nor do they recommend the same dose of a drug to every patient - so why should our medicine be standardized?”
Medicare enrollment and your local pharmacy
Plans change every year, even the one you currently have. So to help their customers navigate the process, the professionals at OC Pharmacy have teamed up with local Medicare insurance specialists, Stephen and Denice Merrill. Together, they will sit down with patients, beginning in October, to review their 2019 Medicare insurance options.
“We will walk the patient through the entire plan selection process, from comparison of pricing, services, when they might fall into the Medicare gap (aka donut hole), even whether they will be forced to mail order or not,” says MJ. “They’ll make the Medicare enrollment call here in the pharmacy with one of our employees. At the end of the process, the patient will know exactly how much they’ll be paying out of pocket for 2019, and the pharmacy will have the new Medicare insurance information, in addition to helpful information such as whether a patient will need to switch to an alternative drug to save money. These time savers let us work with the doctor, months in advance, to make sure the transition to 2019 is smooth for the patient, the doctor, and the pharmacy.”
As an added bonus, OC Pharmacy is offering this Medicare enrollment service at no charge through year-end 2019.
Customized care and uncompromising customer service
Before mass production of medications, community pharmacists with compounding experience were more common. Today, these specialists are fewer and far between. But luckily for those of us who live in South County, OC Pharmacy is truly our “neighborhood” pharmacy with all the “extras” and personal attention to detail you won’t find in a chain-store experience.
Add this to their free local delivery service (in San Juan Capistrano) and the large number of insurance companies they deal with, and you are sure to become a lifelong fan. Even if you don’t live locally, they deliver for a nominal fee and will also ship to California addresses.
“We wanted to bring back the tradition of providing quality healthcare,” says MJ’s son, Omeed Askari. “Because of this, we have grown so much and it’s our ultimate goal to be the top, if not only choice of personalized pharmacy in the area.”
Speaking of growing, OC Pharmacy has their happy patients to thank for that! Word-of-mouth advertising has reached many local households, and people rave they have never felt more cared for and listened to than at OC Pharmacy. In addition to its stellar service, OC Pharmacy also offers immunizations (see sidebar on flu shots), diabetic supplies and durable equipment such as wheelchairs and walkers.
The OC Pharmacy family consists of pharmacists who hold PharmD degrees from excellent schools and are registered pharmacists (RPh) in the state of California, Certified Pharmacy Technicians and an administrative team largely comprised of MJ and her family members.
In addition to always “striving to go the extra mile for the patient,” Omeed adds that OC Pharmacy is part of a professional organization called the Professional Compounding Centers of America (PCCA), which allows MJ and her staff access to thousands of compounding formulas, ideas and resources.
“Some ingredients we use can only be purchased from PCCA, and to do that you must be a member,” says Omeed. “The organization is constantly researching and developing new medication delivery vehicles that helps put us on the cutting-edge of industry knowledge to better serve our clients. Because patients and their specific conditions are unique, each individual’s medicine should be uniquely created for them.”
State of the Industry
While compounding pharmacies offer patients the alternative of a more effective, customized medicine, the industry itself is currently in a state of upheaval and uncertainty, according to MJ.
Many national chain pharmacies are owned by insurance companies who wield influence with politicians and drug companies. As a result, local, independent compounding pharmacies are finding it increasingly difficult to compete in an environment of unfair pricing and reimbursement practices, she says.
“It’s imperative that patients who wish to have the option of customized medicine make their opinions known to their local representatives and state policy-makers, otherwise having the choice of using a compounding pharmacy may be another casualty in today’s ever-changing healthcare industry.”
Because flu season is predicted to be long this year, Omeed has taken steps to prepare the community: “We are scheduled to receive our vaccines late August/early September. At the final San Juan Summer Nights event on September 19th, we will offer a flu immunization clinic. Attendees will get a special discounted rate of $20, as opposed to $30 in-store. Patients who have egg allergies, who typically cannot get immunized, should contact us for information about an egg-allergy free version of the vaccine. All of our vaccines will be preservative and latex-free.”
Speak to the experts at OC Pharmacy today by calling (949) 429.5326. They are delighted to answer any questions you might have. OC Pharmacy is located at 31654 Rancho Viejo Road in San Juan Capistrano. Visit www.ocpharmacy.net for locations, hours and more information. Check them out on Instagram and Facebook (via links on their website) where MJ (owner and pharmacist in charge) will be posting more videos about pharmacy topics, suggestions, reccomenations, and reminders, while responding to questions submitted via Instagram.
Friends are good for a great many things. Laughing with you, getting out of tight spots every once in a while, bringing hot soup when you’re sick, makeovers: the list is almost endless. Advice, however, is one of those beautiful friend-offerings that can literally be life-changing. For Deb Massey-Arnold, a friend’s recommendation that she look into Rodan + Fields changed the trajectory of her career.
Drs. Rodan and Fields first gained international recognition and acclaim for PROACTIV, the incredible anti-acne miracle. The brand brings to mind commercials with fresh teens splashing cool water on their faces: free of pimples thanks to one of the most popular skincare products of all time. In 2004 Drs. Rodan and Fields went back to the laboratory to work on solutions to issues they found in their private practices. The developed the #1 Premium Skin Care Redefined. After their success with Proactiv, they sold their product to Estee Lauder to distribute in high end stores. When they the did some research, they realized that it was by word of mouth that women were buying their products. In 2007 they purchased back Redefine and completed the line of 4 skin care regimens. In 2008 they opened up in the Direct Marketing arena.
Though she got her start in 2015, there were a few setbacks. “My daughter was finishing her last year in high school, my mother passed away, then my family relocated from San Jose to Orange County. It took a while to get settled back in.” The following year, Deb took her business to social media, meeting new people in the Rodan + Fields family. “I am truly blessed by the people who have supported me physically and virtually. Everyone is so positive and uplifting!” Negativity has little place in a business that has grown exponentially since its inception. 2017 saw the launch of Active Hydration, which uses 3D3P - to provide a reservoir of moisture for the face. “It was a breakthrough to aging in reverse!”
A follow up to the Active Hydration Line, Bright Eyes kicked off Deb’s business. Reducing the appearance of puffiness, dark circles, and tired looking eyes, the products that Rodan + Fields are creating aren’t just remarkable, they’re groundbreaking. Starting with their online solution tool, you can find a personalized skin care regimen. From there, take your routine on the road; whatever and wherever. The promise Deb made is to ensure that her clients can take the healthiest, most beautiful version of themselves wherever they want. Noticeably softer, smoother, and more nourished skin is nothing to brush off, and like a good friend’s advice, goes further than you’d think.
“Our company was established on the principle that living better in your skin means living better in your life,” she says. "We believe everyone has the opportunity to make a difference in their own lives - and in the lives of others.”
No stranger to making an impact in the lives of others, Deb is deeply invested in her community, supporting the Prescription for Change Foundation, and Build On. Helping youth in urban areas that are underperforming in school, they ignite an interest in students to engage in their community by focusing on their grades, in order to help others.
“To speak with these students is a blessing; to see how their thought patterns have changed, and how they are reaching out - out of the county, out of the country. Building homes and community centers.” Another reason for Deb’s love for Rodan + Fields? The organization raises millions of dollars each year specifically to match nearly all the money raised by its consultants to give back to the causes closest to their hearts. After all, giving back is what friends are for.
To connect with Deb directly, call (408) 250-3439 or visit Debluvsmassage.myrandf.com