Manuka Health Clinic in Anchorage, Alaska is named for the beautiful Manuka flower (Leptospermum scopanum). This flowering plant in the myrtle family is native to New Zealand. Manuka honey has a generous amount of methylgloxal, which is why it is so coveted for its antimicrobial properties.
While honey is a hobby, we are pretty sure that's not why you landed on our page. Our small clinic is just on the edge of Spenard in Midtown Anchorage. One block over and we would be in the cool, eclectic part of the city. Oh well!
There are two of us here, Ginger Scoggin, PhD, DNP, ANP-C (researcher and doctor) and Gen Ellis (captain of the ship and handler). In our little world with colorful second- hand furniture, we work side by side with the most inspiring chronic Lyme-MSIDS patients.
Unfortunately, this syndrome is both serious and debilitating. I was introduced to Lyme disease by a classmate and friend (Dr. Ginger Savely...yup, there are 2 of us!) while doing virology research for my Doctorate at Case Western. At that time, I naively thought Ginger's work, while interesting, had nothing to do with Alaska. At that time, CDC had only two reportable cases of "Lyme disease" in the state, and there were no hard bodied black legged ticks up here.
I was in for an awakening...and an uphill battle! With my focus on viral cluster re-activation and epidemiology, colleagues increasingly began asking me about their patients with medically complex multi-system illnesses.
The focus of my research, and interest changed. It did not take long to see the flaws in the CDC diagnostic criteria, and the lack of testing available through commercial labs. At the same time, I was seeing more chronically ill "medical mystery" patients. Along with my not-so-silent silent partner, Ann (who has been my voice of reason since 1984), and my friend Mia, I decided to open a clinic.
Purely out of love and a strong desire to protect the community, I begged the smartest nurse in the world, Kamille, to help me. Two years later, Mia moved out of state. That very next week, I met Gen (we were gymnastics moms). Somehow, I managed to convince her (just shy of her putting a restraining order on me) to join Kamille and me.
In Gen, Kamille and I found someone who shared our passion to help chronically ill patients, but also, as she refers to herself, Manuka's "original" Bartonella patient. With most of the literature and clinicians in the Pacific Northwest saying chronic Lyme did not exist and there was no such thing as a co-infection syndrome, I was seeing something very different. The three of us took on the world of chronic Lyme.
Things gradually began to change. I am extremely grateful for the resources we have up here. A pathologist and mentor, taught me not only how to read bands on a western blot, but how to get the most information possible out of tests that were neither specific nor sensitive. A radiologist who taught me how to look beyond the obvious to see the connections. An anesthesiologist taught me that finding a clue that doesn't fit is still a clue. A neurologist showed me that there is no test more important than really listening to a person. Not least of all is a good friend and Naturopathic doctor who brings a whole different body of knowledge to the table.
Even through Kamille left us for warmer weather (fortunately, she hasn't changed her cell number!!) it takes a team of us to help people with this chronic tick-borne pathogen soup syndrome.
Ginger and Gen heading to work