Solevo Wellness

By Janice Lane Palko

There are many medical marijuana dispensaries in the area, but there is only one like Solevo Wellness. Since 2018 when Solevo became the first medical marijuana dispensary in Allegheny County, it has strived to provide quality care and more for those in the community. Solevo now has grown to three locations: Squirrel Hill, Cranberry and Washington. Northern Connection magazine recently caught up with Solevo Wellness, speaking with Rocco Levine, Operations Director, and Dr. Richard Greer, Pharmacy Director.

 

Q. What sets Solevo apart?

A. Solevo Wellness has been built upon education and patient support. In the medical marijuana industry, we tend to see the lack of both very important types of information and support throughout the United States. Understanding our patients and their needs helps us create a safer and more medical approach to marijuana. We strive on educating our staff, in every position, to help a patient along their journey to a better life. – Rocco Levine

Q. How do most of your patients come to you?

A. Most patients find Solevo Wellness through their physician or by word of mouth. Solevo Wellness has built a Wellness Center dedicated to helping our patients and their needs. This and our very accessible buildings help people understand that this is a medical facility, and you should expect the highest level of professionalism. – Rocco Levine

Q. What sort of results are patients reporting to you?

A. Each patient is different and has different needs with regards to medical marijuana and what it could help treat. At Solevo Wellness, we take an approach to medical marijuana where we slowly build the patient’s education about the endocannabinoid system and the medicine we provide. This helps ensure little to no adverse effects, and a higher success rate than when dealing solely with a patient’s symptoms. Obviously, we wish we could say this helps with everything for everyone, but as we know, everybody responds differently to medical marijuana. – Rocco Levine

Q. Have you been surprised by any of the results you are seeing?

A. If you are new to medical marijuana, some of the results or stories patients provide may seem impossible. Medical marijuana has helped patients from the age of two up to 98. Since this is a relatively new industry, there will always be results that surprise all of us. Medical marijuana has not been researched enough, or to the degree that we completely understand this. Until we start understanding the medicine more, we will be surprised by the results we do see daily. – Rocco Levine

Q. You have expanded to three locations?

A. Yes, the patient base is continuing to grow due to education, outreach and new diagnoses being added to the program. Since anxiety has been added as a qualifying condition, the program has grown over 25%. We will continue to see growth in our industry with more conditions being added to list, opening the range of qualified patients. – Rocco Levine

Q. Are people becoming more receptive to using medical marijuana?

A. Time will always help reduce the stigma associated with using medical marijuana, due to the very nature of humanity. Word-ofmouth, education and research will reach more people, and more people will become more comfortable once they know the plant and its possibilities. Our facilities help lift the presence of marijuana to a medical standard. – Rocco Levine

Q. Is the medical community becoming more comfortable with recommending that patients try medical marijuana?

A. There will always be hesitation from the medical community regarding medical marijuana, due to the lack of research provided and approved in our industry, which sometimes hinders a medical professional’s approach to medical marijuana. Medical professionals are very well-educated individuals with years of training. Taking on a new medicine that has little to no research on its effects, dosing, etc. will create an uncomfortable feeling for these professionals. Since the Pennsylvania program has brought medical professionals into the industry, we have seen a huge step in the right direction for all sides in the medical community. – Rocco Levine

Q. Is there one form of medical marijuana that is more popular, or does it depend on the condition that is being treated?

A. When we talk about forms, we are talking about the types of medical marijuana products we carry. Everyone has a different path, and depending on their comfortability with medical marijuana, we will choose a form that works best for them. The form that is the most “popular” is dry leaf, or the flower of the plant. – Rocco Levine

Q. What kind of community involvement does Solevo support or participate in?

A. For 2021, you will see Solevo Wellness continue with many of the same initiatives we have been involved with while including some new ones as well. We have traditionally been involved with general medical marijuana advocacy for patients, but more specifically for children who qualify for medical marijuana, veterans, and first responders. Essentially, any businesses or organizations that has an interest in the betterment of people’s lives are potential targets for Solevo’s participation. – Dr. Richard Greer

Q. How are you helping the senior population?

A. Throughout the course of the pandemic, the senior population has become even more of a focus for us at Solevo Wellness. COVID-19 has left seniors especially vulnerable, not only from potentially contracting the virus but also from the isolation from family and friends. This has provided us with the opportunity to partner with several organizations over the past year who serve this population and offer these individuals some relief from the isolation they may be experiencing through gifts as well as companionship. – Dr. Richard Greer

Q. How have you adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic?

A. Solevo has made several changes to adapt to the COVID pandemic. We have limited the number of patients who are allowed into our building to avoid crowds in our waiting rooms and so that we can maintain social distancing. Everyone coming in-andout of our buildings – both employees and patients – are required to wear masks when inside. We installed iWave air filters in our HVAC system to kill airborne bacteria and viruses, we have our locations professionally cleaned/disinfected 2-3 times per week and, we have increased our cleaning protocols by employees throughout the workday. Due to the high transmission of the COVID virus, we have been especially vigilant with quarantining certain employees with potential exposure(s) but have not experienced significant issues with this. Most noticeably, you will see plexiglass dividers between our staff and patients to decrease the spread of COVID.

With everything stated above, we have maintained focus on the patient. We hope any adaptations have had little – if any – disruption to the patient experience at Solevo Wellness. If a line forms outside of our door because we can only let a certain number of patients inside, we hurry to get patients in/out ASAP. If we are missing a Patient Care Consultant or two because of sickness, we allocate other employees to consult with patients. Any mandates that we are required to follow are always taken seriously, but we are keeping everyone safe in a way that does not seriously sacrifice our services. – Dr. Richard Greer

Q. With the restrictions in place for the COVID pandemic, in what ways are you able to still help educate the community?

A. Everything we do with community education has changed in comparison to how we did things pre-pandemic. With the capacity restrictions on public gatherings and requirements for social distancing, we went from having multiple educational events weekly to almost zero. There have been a select few in-person events, but we are mainly using Zoom, Teams, Google Meet or other means to educate in a group setting.

Fortunately, we’ve built strong relationships with some local organizations who are dedicated to helping patients with medical marijuana therapy. We have partnered with local groups dedicated to helping veterans, Parkinson’s patients, children with autism, and patients suffering from chronic pain to name a few educational presentations we have done throughout the pandemic.

Another fortunate outcome of the pandemic was dispensaries being deemed as essential businesses, in the same light as a traditional pharmacy. That allowed us to keep our doors open, uninterrupted, throughout the course of this pandemic and to continue to educate western Pennsylvania patients coming through our doors. – Dr. Richard Greer 

For more information on Solevo Wellness, visit the website at: www.solevowellness.com.