During the pandemic, medical and beauty businesses have increasingly found ways to bring their services safely to your home, office or hotel room.
By Justine Amodeo
While lines for COVID-19 tests formed, Botox faded, nails went au naturel and visits to the doctor were postponed, Dr. Katrina Riboni, an anesthesiologist, and Shelly Shook, a medical aesthetician, quickly changed gears. Riboni, a Laguna Beach resident who has been performing cosmetic procedures for the past 10 years, was working as a medical director for a local medispa and Shook, a Newport Beach resident, had just started consulting for the company, when the pandemic hit in March and the business shut down. So, the two women, like other doctors, beauticians and medical entrepreneurs, decided to reinvent themselves in the time of COVID-19 to accommodate those sheltering at home or at hotels who still want medical care and beauty procedures.
Botox in Your Backyard
Launched in March, Goddess Labs offers platelet-rich plasma injections, stem cell and exosome therapy, regenerative medicine and beauty services such as hair styling and color, nails, microneedling, Botox, fillers, yoga sessions and more, all from the comfort of your home. “We decided to launch this as soon as COVID hit,” says Shook, who has worked as a medical aesthetician in Orange County for the past 12 years. “We heard our friends and family complaining about not being able to get their hair and nails and fillers done. Everyone still wanted beauty services. We are connectors and know so many people in the industry. And we’ve tried it all before recommending services to anyone. That’s why people listen to us.”
“People feel safer in their own homes,” adds Riboni, who in late spring traveled to the East Coast as part of a group of doctors helping out in emergency rooms at the height of the pandemic. “We have done Botox and chemical peels in someone’s garage, poolside, on yachts. Our motto is ‘Be your own kind of beautiful.’ We are beauty and health therapists taking care of your brain, body and soul.”
Goddess Labs, which also has a brick-and-mortar location on Avocado Avenue in Newport Beach, offers everything from IV infusions, customized medical weight loss, laser treatments, chemical peels and Botox to acupuncture, lash and brows, yoga instructors and more. “If you can’t find it, we will find it for you,” Riboni says. “We bring people whatever they need.”
Adds Shook: “We’re even doing glutathione—[an antioxidant essential for immune health]—injections for COVID-[era] drinkers. It helps the liver.”
COVID Tests at Home
While at-home COVID testing for those with symptoms was highly requested earlier in the pandemic, as restrictions loosen up and life slowly returns to a semi-normal state, COVID testing for those wanting to get back to work safely, or travel, is now in demand.
Dr. Iman Bar, a Newport Beach-based doctor specializing in functional and regenerative medicine—who has been featured on ABC’s “Nightline” for her expertise in working with patients possibly affected by the coronavirus—has been doing house calls since the beginning of the pandemic with antigen rapid testing.
Originally doing four to five house calls a day for those who didn’t want to wait curbside in their cars to have their sinus passages probed, Bar is now being called to businesses, Hollywood sets and homes for antigen testing that delivers results in 20 minutes.
“I’m now seeing people who are not just freaked out and sick,” she says. “I’m seeing people on small Hollywood productions who want to be safe, those attending events, those who may have been exposed to someone who has tested positive. And then [also doing] sutures and [treating] cuts for those who still don’t want to go to an emergency room.”
Bar says the tests can be conducted anywhere and she continues to do rapid testing in people’s front yards, gardens and garages. Besides using the Quidel Sofia SARS-CoV-2 antigen test, the first antigen test for COVID-19 to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration, Bar is also part of Regeneron’s experimental antibody cocktail study—the kind President Trump received at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Bar offers this antibody cocktail, which is proving more and more to be a treatment for moderate to severe symptoms of COVID-19 and complications such as acute respiratory distress syndrome, pneumonia or a dangerous elevation of pro-inflammatory cytokines. She is also taking part in a vaccine study, offering it to her patients. “This vaccine will only be available to high-risk patients, first responders and the elderly. If regular people want it, they have to be part of the study,” she says.
“Let’s slow the spread of COVID-19 in Orange County, keep families safe from coronavirus and get businesses back to work,” she says on her housecalls.doctor website. “… Together we’ll get through these stressful coronavirus times safely.”
Health Care Amenities
What happens if you’ve finally mustered the courage to travel, but you’re worried about what will happen if you become ill while trying to relax poolside with a margarita? Hotels around the world, reeling from closures and cutbacks, have taken extraordinary steps to keep their guests safe.
As the U.S. medical system undergoes massive disruption thanks to the emergence of direct-to-consumer health care—national data from Epic, the electronic health record company, said telemedicine visits accounted for 69% of doctor visits in April, though that is now dwindling—national digital health and primary care organization One Medical and Montage International announced a partnership to provide 24/7 virtual care services to guests of the hospitality brand’s hotels and resorts. When Montage International reopened its U.S.-based Montage Hotels & Resorts (including the Laguna Beach property) and Pendry Hotels & Resorts, guests were offered a 30-day complimentary membership to One Medical’s full suite of digital health services, which allows travelers to work with the company’s virtual medical team to remotely triage symptoms, including concerns related to COVID-19, and to get a recommended care plan during their stay or upon their return home. Montage is also offering annual One Medical memberships to its U.S.-based associates. In areas where One Medical has offices, guests can also make appointments for in-person visits to handle primary care needs, including COVID-19 testing.
“Having convenient access to reliable health care, both digitally and in-person, is more important than ever for travelers,” says Amir Dan Rubin, chairman, CEO and president of One Medical. “We are pleased to pair One Medical’s modernized, service-oriented and technology-powered approach to health care with Montage International’s commitment to excellence for its associates and guests.”
As part of Montage International’s Peace of Mind Commitment to guests, the company has also implemented an enhanced prescriptive and safety protocol program, which includes the integration of the latest cleanliness technologies involving electrostatic sprayers, UV wands and devices, and particulate-level air filtration systems.
“It is paramount that our guests feel safe while they are staying with us and our associates are comfortable coming back to work in our hotels,” says Alan J. Fuerstman, founder, chairman and CEO of Montage International. “Partnering with One Medical allows us to continue to provide extraordinary service to our guests and expand our already robust medical benefits to our associates with seamless virtual care to ease their minds and ensure safety and well-being.”
Where to Find Them
Dr. Katrina Riboni and Shelly Shook of Goddess Labs: goddess-labs.com
Dr. Iman Bar: housecalls.doctor, newportconciergemedical.com
Montage International: montagehotels.com
One Medical: onemedical.com