After Corie Kovach became one of the first physicians certified to recommend medical marijuana in Lorain County, she and fellow physician Ann Dorobek made a new start to provide care they couldn’t at Mercy Health.
The two have opened the first medical practice in the county to publicly offer the recommendation of medical marijuana. Holistic Healthcare opened about a month ago at 570 N. Leavitt Road.
Kovach and 35 other physicians in the state were awarded certificates to recommend medical marijuana by the State Medical Board of Ohio on April 11. Dorobek became state-
certified a month later. Kovach said she sought the certification because she likes to learn new treatments, as she did with acupuncture.
Until Dec. 7 Kovach worked as a gynecologist with the Sheffield Mercy Health, which recognized her certification but was not supporting its doctors recommending medical marijuana. Dorobek worked as a gynecologist at the Mercy Health Vermilion Primary Care.
Mercy Health issued a statement addressing physicians recommending medical marijuana upon the news of Kovach’s certification.
“Marijuana remains illegal under Federal law and the Federal government has indicated it will enforce federal laws against the drug in states that have decriminalized its production and sale, including for medical purposes,” the statement read. “Given that, Mercy Health is not at this time asking its physicians to undergo the two-hour training program.”
According to the Medical Marijuana Program, applicants must complete at least two hours of medical education to assist in diagnosing and treating those qualifying conditions with medical marijuana or understanding possible drug interactions. The full requirements for the certificate can be read here.
Kovach said she understood why large medical practices like Mercy Health may have different perspectives on medical marijuana than she does.
“I think politically, it puts the hospital systems at an impasse or an uncomfortable position politically, and they have a difficult time choosing how to be a leader in the community with anything that is a touchy subject,” she said.
With Mercy Health’s stance established, Kovach and Dorobek decided to leave their jobs and create Holistic Healthcare.
Kovach said she was pleasantly surprised at the amount of community acceptance the practice has received.
“My mind is blown by how open-minded and well-received it is by the community,” she said, adding that patients are choosing to “take a breath and try to educate themselves before creating an opinion because they are more starved for information than for anything else.”
In addition to recommending medical marijuana, Holistic Healthcare provides acupuncture, nutritional wellness, family medicine, general gynecology, dermatology and minor office procedures. According to its mission statement, Holistic Healthcare hopes to transform and elevate the overall health of the residents of the county with the combination those different treatments listed for each patient.
Kovach said she would like to start using the practice as a way to educate the community. She also hopes it can help contribute to official research about the effects of medical marijuana. If possible, she said, the practice could accept more doctors who are certified to recommend medical marijuana as well.
As women leading the first such practice in the county, Kovach said she liked to think she and Dorobek were leading the charge of in the evolution of medicine.
“I would like to think that we are changing medicine in an unprecedented way in this area, carrying on a torch of our predecessors in the way they would have liked to have seen it carried on,” she said.
Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to noon Saturday. For more information, visit ohioholistichealthcare.com. Appointments can be made by calling (440) 340-1970.
The medical conditions qualify for treatment with medical marijuana are HIV/AIDS; Alzheimer’s disease; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS; cancer; chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE; Crohn’s disease; epilepsy or another seizure disorder; fibromyalgia; glaucoma; hepatitis C; inflammatory bowel disease; multiple sclerosis; pain that is chronic and severe or intractable; Parkinson’s disease; post-traumatic stress disorder; sickle cell anemia; spinal cord disease or injury; Tourette’s syndrome; traumatic brain injury; and ulcerative colitis.
For more information on medical marijuana in Ohio, visit medicalmarijuana.ohio.gov or contact the toll-free helpline at (833) 464-6627, or by email at MMCPRegistry@pharmacy.ohio.gov.