Advocating for Stellate Ganglion Block (SGB) Coverage
The Chicago Police Department (CPD) and the City Council are exploring alternative treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), including Stella's innovative treatment, the Stellate Ganglion Block (SGB), or, as some officers refer to it, the "God shot."
Chicago's police force is facing a mental health crisis, with six officers dying from suicide in 2022. Not only does their job take a toll on their mental health, but the loss of partners to suicide leads to debilitating secondary trauma.
Secondary trauma, also known as vicarious trauma or compassion fatigue, is the emotional and psychological strain that can result from exposure to the traumatic experiences of others, either through direct interactions or indirect interactions.
Stella's Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Eugene Lipov, who has been a leader in the battle against post-traumatic stress for the last two decades, aims to reset the system to its pre-trauma state for those in need, first responders, veterans, and civilians.
Several CPD officers, including Commander Melinda Linas, have received it to combat trauma's effects. Linas stated that the treatment "made me a better person, it made me a better mother, it made me a better wife, it made me a better police officer."
However, though the FDA approves the SGB for use as a pain management treatment and local anesthetics like bupivacaine and ropivacaine, the SGB is not yet FDA-approved for the treatment of PTSD and costs $1,500-$2,000 per shot. The phrase "not FDA-approved" can raise questions, but as Stella Chief Psychologist Dr. Shauna Springer explains it on Anxiety.org,
"SGB has been applied to symptoms of trauma in the same way that aspirin is used to reduce risk of heart attack. Aspirin is also "not FDA-approved" for use in this way – like SGB, it was also primarily developed to treat pain, but has shown clear promise."
Aldermen advocated for the shot to be covered by officers' health insurance, flex spending plans, or grants funded by the City Council. Despite the high cost and lack of formal approval, CPD officers who have received the treatment have reported significant improvements in their lives.
Biological interventions for mental health care, including the SGB and Ketamine Infusion Therapy, are currently not covered by insurance. Stella offers assessments and follow-up appointments that may be eligible for insurance reimbursement, although the actual amount reimbursed may vary based on insurance coverage and deductible.
To make treatment more affordable, Stella accepts payment through Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs), and major credit cards, as well as offering interest-free financing plans through CareCredit for up to six months to qualifying patients.
We are committed to providing the best care for individuals dealing with symptoms of post-traumatic stress, anxiety, and depression.
Our team of trauma-informed Advanced Practice Providers will conduct a thorough assessment of your symptoms and health history to create a personalized treatment plan. Our comprehensive care plans include innovative biological interventions like the Stellate Ganglion Block (SGB) and ketamine Infusion Therapy, as well as regular follow-ups over a six-month period to ensure that our patients achieve their desired outcomes.
If you are interested in learning more about our services, please don't hesitate to reach out to one of our Care Advocates at 908-293-7559 to schedule an initial assessment.