Dr. Aimee Shunney A Different kind of Doctor

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


What is a Naturopathic Doctor?

A Naturopathic Doctor (N.D.) has completed a postgraduate medical education specializing in primary care natural medicine. Naturopathic doctors are distinct from acupuncturists, chiropractors, osteopaths, and medical doctors. They are uniquely trained to provide a comprehensive and integrated approach to assist your body’s innate healing processes.

Naturopathic doctors are skilled in diagnosis and treatment of disease utilizing natural therapeutics including clinical nutrition, herbal medicine, homeopathy, physical medicine, and hydrotherapy; many also use prescriptive medicines. They tailor these approaches to the needs of each individual patient. Naturopathic medicine is effective in treating most health problems, whether acute or chronic. Naturopathic doctors cooperate with all other branches within the medical field, referring patients to other practitioners for diagnosis or treatment when appropriate.

As with all physicians today, Naturopathic doctors are trained at accredited, four to five-year, post-graduate, medical institutions. The training consists of a comprehensive study of the conventional medical sciences, including anatomy, physiology, pathology, microbiology, immunology, clinical and physical diagnosis, laboratory diagnosis, cardiology, gastroenterology, gynecology, etc, as well as detailed study of a wide variety of natural therapies. In the last two years of their intensive clinical training, they learn how to integrate the principles of naturopathic medicine into clinical practice.

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What is the difference between a Naturopathic Doctor (ND) and a Traditional Naturopath?

In California, the term ‘Traditional Naturopath’ has been left in the public domain. This means that anyone, regardless of their education, can refer to themselves in this way. Anyone who calls herself a Naturopathic Doctor or who uses the term ‘ND’ must have completed their education at one of the accredited 4-5 year post-graduate residential medical schools. NDs are licensed in California as Primary Care Providers and are able to perform physical examinations, order and interpret laboratory tests and otherwise diagnose and treat disease. They are also able to prescribe certain medications, including hormones of all kinds.

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What is the difference between a Naturopathic Doctor (ND) and a Homeopath?

Homeopathic medicine is one of the many modalities that NDs are trained in. When practitioners identify themselves as homeopaths, it does not necessarily mean they have a medical background. Naturopathic medical education, as indicated above, is more comprehensive and includes the western medical sciences as well as healing modalities like therapeutic nutrition, herbal medicine and homeopathy.

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Can Dr. Shunney be my Primary Care Physician (PCP)?

Even though NDs are Licensed Primary Care Doctors in the state of California, there are several reasons why Dr. Shunney recommends that you also have an MD or DO PCP.

  1. Dr. Shunney provides comprehensive care like a primary care physician, including annual exams, but unlike a primary care physician, she does not take call or do hospital admissions. She can treat you for the full range of child and adult health issues from an integrative medicine point of view. She recommends that you have an MD or DO PCP to cover you in case of emergency.
  2. Dr. Shunney does not prescribe all medications. An MD/DO can prescribe other drugs that may be medically necessary for you – particularly those needed in an emergency situation.

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Will my insurance cover Dr. Shunney’s Services?

Probably not. NDs have been licensed in CA since 2004. Becoming a licensed profession in no way requires that insurance companies recognize that ‘new’ profession. This is a process that takes time and the California Association of Naturopathic Doctors is working on it.

  • Dr. Shunney does not bill any insurance companies directly.
  • Payment is due in full at the time of your appointment. At the end of each visit, we will provide you with a “superbill” charge sheet to submit to your insurance for reimbursement. Insurance companies in California do not generally reimburse for naturopathic services at this time, although this has the potential to change with the Affordable Care Act. HSA accounts will cover naturopathic services and FSA accounts may cover them, but you should check with your employer.

At Santa Cruz Integrative Medicine, Dr. Shunney works with Dr. Rachel Abrams, MD. IF YOU ARE A PATIENT OF DR. ABRAMS, your visits with Dr Shunney can be submitted to insurance as a visit with Dr. Abrams. This will allow those patients with medical insurance (other than Medicare, Medi-cal or HMO’s) to get the same reimbursement rates for Dr. Shunney as they would with any non-preferred provider. IF YOU ARE NOT A PATIENT OF DR. ABRAMS, your visits with Dr. Shunney will most likely not be covered by insurance. To take advantage of non-preferred provider reimbursement rates, Dr. Abrams is offering a special new patient visit rate of $175 to Dr. Shunney’s patients. Please call 831-465-9088 for more information.

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Do I have to buy supplements from Dr. Shunney?

Absolutely not. Dr. Shunney sells supplements as a service to patients. That service is: to provide an elite group of products that are well researched and of the highest quality. If you choose to get your supplements elsewhere, Dr. Shunney will do her best to direct you towards well-reputed brands, therapeutic dosages, and appropriate nutrient forms (yes, there are different forms of Vitamin D!).

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What are my options for getting supplements from Dr. Shunney?

THE OFFICE

The dispensary is open at Santa Cruz Integrative Medicine from 9am-5pm weekdays except Wednesdays, closed 1230-130p for lunch.

ONLINE HEALTHWAVE DISPENSARY
Click here to order or refill supplements.

PHONE HEALTHWAVE DISPENSARY
If you would rather speak to someone at HealthWave instead of ordering online, you may call 1-877-941-1449.

PRODUCTS NOT AVAILABLE THROUGH HealthWave

GREENSFIRST and DREAM PROTEIN – Available online only at www.firstshake.com/1781/content_doc.asp go to ‘View Products’ to make a purchase. You can also call 866-447-3367.

BEZWECKEN products can be found elsewhere online, like amazon, vitacost, iherb, etc.

NEUROSCIENCE can often be found online, or ordered directly at 1-888-342-7272

BY MAIL FROM DR. SHUNNEY

We can mail you supplements from the office. Shipping & Handling is a minimum of $8 for this and may be more depending on quantity. Please give as much notice as possible. Call the office directly to order.

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What if I have a quick question or I want to check in with Dr. Shunney?

Dr. Shunney offers free 5-minute phone consults for all her patients as often as they need them.

Dr. Shunney communicates with many of her patients via email. This is also free if her responses take 5 minutes or less to create (don’t worry – she’s a fast typer!).

If phone calls or emails go over 5 minutes, you will be invoiced for an office visit (see below).

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Can I communicate with Dr. Shunney between visits?

Dr. Shunney welcomes your questions, comments and concerns in between visits via phone and email. The following parameters have been set to allow Dr. Shunney the time she needs each week to meet all her patients’ needs. Fees are not meant to discourage these methods of communication, but rather to ensure that they can continue to be available.

  • For scheduling or billing questions, or for copies of labs or records, please call Glynis at the front desk at 831-465-9088.
  • For questions related to your treatment, please email me at drshunney@santacruzintegrativemedicine.net
  • For lab-related questions, please contact the lab directly

PHONE

Our office is OPEN every weekday except Wednesday from 9a-5p, with the front desk closed from 1230-130p. The office is CLOSED all day on Wednesdays. If you have a question or concern requiring an immediate response, please call the front desk during office hours.

If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room.

EMAIL COMMUNICATION

Email communication is not for urgent issues. If you have a question or concern requiring an immediate response, please call the front desk during office hours, call 911, or proceed to your closest urgent care facility.

Email communication is an excellent option for a brief check-in, a clarification or a quick question. Emails are checked daily on business days, and you can usually get an answer within 24 hours M-F. If you are sending an email on the weekend and it needs immediate attention, please mark it as such.

Keep in mind that Dr. Shunney often responds when she’s away from the office without your chart in front of her, so any details you can provide will be helpful. Emails that take 5 minutes to read and respond to are always free. If they take longer than 5 minutes, she will ask you if you would like to schedule a phone or in-person visit or if you would like to be billed for time spent emailing. Fees are based on time spent.

  • Emails should include your first and last name, the date of your last visit, and specific details about your prescriptions, supplements, and doses
  • 5 minute emails are free
  • Time spent beyond 5 minutes will be rolled into a follow-up visit either in-office, by phone, or email
  • Lab result interpretation requires follow-up

All email communication becomes part of your confidential patient records.

FEE SCHEDULE

You will be invoiced for Dr. Shunney’s time spent on the phone or responding to email. When assessing time spent responding to an email, time spent reading your email is included. Fees are as follows:

Level I Brief – 0-5 minutes – FREE
Level II Focused – 6-15 minutes – $60
Level IV Detailed – 16-30 minutes – $120
Level V Extended – 31-45 minutes – $180

To avoid confusion, you will be reminded of this invoicing policy at the beginning of each phone call. In addition, before Dr. Shunney responds to an email, she will need you to authorize her to bill you if appropriate. You can either do this in your original email request, or she will send you an automatic response asking for your consent.

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Does Dr. Shunney do phone or video consultations?

Phone/video consultations can be scheduled for established patients in lieu of an office visit. For new patients that live too far away to see Dr. Shunney in the office, phone/video consultations can be arranged when certain parameters are agreed to. Contact us for more information.

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Why does an office visit cost the same as a phone/video consult or an email consult?

All fees are based on the amount of time spent with Dr. Shunney.

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What are my payment options?

We accept cash, checks, and credit cards.

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What if I miss or need to reschedule an appointment?

Dr. Shunney sets her schedule to ensure ample time with each patient and never ‘double books’. Please understand that we need your cooperation in order to keep this unique patient-centered schedule.

Dr. Shunney has a 24-hour cancellation policy. There is no charge for canceling or rescheduling with more than 24 hours’ notice. If you miss your appointment or need to reschedule with less than 24 hours’ notice, you will be charged the full price of your visit. A credit card number is required to schedule your new patient visit.

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How do I get my prescriptions refilled?

Dr. Shunney personally handles all refills and that means that she relies on faxing with pharmacies to save time. When you are ready for a refill, please call your pharmacy and ask them to fax the office a refill request, 831-465-8528. Dr. Shunney will review your chart and either approve the refill request or let you know if she needs to see you to approve additional refills. She requires an annual visit to write prescriptions for you.

Keep in mind that Dr. Shunney is not in the office every day, and she does not have a support staff managing her refills. There may be up to a 2-day lag. For this reason, it is essential that you call in your refills a few days before you need them. This is especially true if you are getting a compounded medication, as they may need up to 2 days to make your medicine.

  • If you need a refill, ask your pharmacy to fax us a refill request, 831-465-8528. Please don’t call the office or email your request.
  • Request your refill 3-5 days before you need it
  • Annual visits are required for continued refills

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Dr. Aimée Shunney