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"My sister's an artist," explains Opperman, "and as we were putting things together, we stumbled upon some research that talked about the use of art in medicine and the healing and relaxing properties of subtle images. I said to my sister, 'Well, you have all the art, why not create a hybrid office in the art district? We can literally create an art gallery inside of a backstage world, in a medical office, and completely take away the feeling that you're in a sterile medical office.' You could blindfold me and walk me into a dentist's office and I'd tell you where I was the minute I smelled the chemicals. I didn't want that in this environment. I wanted it to be a clean, sterile, top-notch medical office with state-of-the-art equipment, but I wanted it to feel relaxing and inviting."
But they didn't stop at state-of-the-art equipment and art. They thought about where their clients would feel most at home, and they decided to add a recording studio to the mix.
The result is a sleek, ultra-modern facility. Bright with track lighting that runs the perimeter, the clinic is framed by rounded walls that lead from the entryway to the examining rooms, which are all linked via Apple TV; patients can watch shows customized to their interests. Neo-deco furniture sits atop hardwood floors; Cheryl Opperman's paintings and photographs hang on walls painted eggshell white. The clinic looks more like the sort of place where you'd expect to see Ari Gold negotiating deals than a stuffy doctor's office.
"We could've moved into some other part of town, into some fancy buildings or some fancy hospital," Reifman offers. "But the feel was just very nice here."
And they're adding features all the time. The clinic recently acquired a revolutionary post-KTP laser, the only one on this side of the Mississippi, that was recently featured on an ABC News segment with Dr. Steven Zeitels. The "radical new approach," as the reporter described it, uses "a special laser to target a tumor's blood supply, thereby killing the cancer cells."
Other amenities are less high-tech and more high-touch. As an added enticement for entertainment types, a sealed-off area in the back of the clinic has a private entrance, allowing high-profile artists to be treated discreetly. This space is outfitted with comfy chairs and tables, not unlike a well-furnished green room, and in the recording studio just on the other side of the doors, Opperman and Reifman can analyze and assess the vocals of patients before, during and after treatment.
Analyze and assess, but never discuss. One of the secrets to the success of the clinic is that Reifman and Opperman know when to keep quiet about their high-profile patients, although Opperman will surely be on call this weekend during the Mile High Music Festival (see page 47).
"I would recommend them to anybody," says Sully Erna from Godsmack. "Anybody! I don't care what level of entertainer they are. I think they're top-notch people. I haven't seen any other doctors take the time and give a patient the attention they do. They're very attentive, and they're very good at what they do. If they don't have the answers, they will research until they get the answers, and they'll triple-check them to make sure they're the right answers."
Over the past decade, Erna has learned to take care of himself while touring. Nonetheless, he rests easy knowing that he has the clinic on speed-dial. "Now that I have someone like Dr. Opperman on board, I have him to lean on," he says. "So if something's going on, I can say, 'Hey, these are the symptoms. What do you think, and what should I do?' I obviously just want to have the best show that I can have, and it's very comforting to have them on my team, more so than anybody else."
Jim Evans finally landed at the Colorado Voice Clinic last summer. Although the clinic has seen more than its share of famous patients, the facility is designed to help everybody who needs to keep their voices healthy, and clients range from students to housewives to lawyers to politicians to local musicians.
Opperman, too, was concerned by the size of the attorney's granuloma, though he didn't believe the growth was malignant. Just to be sure, he did a biopsy in the clinic — no need to send Evans to the hospital — and it came back negative. Still, given how long Evans had been suffering from vocal problems, Opperman knew he needed to find a long-term solution.
To that end, he recommended a new technique he'd been studying, one that involved injecting botox directly into the vocal folds. This would essentially paralyze the folds, preventing them from coming into contact with one another. That contact was what was causing the irritation, and the irritation was causing the granuloma; neutralizing the contact would give the folds a chance to heal.
While that sounded great to Evans in theory, he was still apprehensive about undergoing the treatment. "Having made my living speaking most of the time, I was a little concerned about what this was going to do to my practice when he said the words 'injection into the vocal cords' and 'botox' and 'paralyze,'" Evans remembers. "I was obviously very concerned with what was going to be happening with the procedure."