Caring friendship grows into a medical-care practice in South Loop

By Justin Breen For Chronicle Media

Dr. Gameli Dekayie (left) and Dr. Chantale Stephens-Archer at their new South Loop practice. (Quench Wellness photo)

Doctors Gameli Dekayie and Chantale Stephens-Archer’s roots are in the Caribbean, South America and Africa, and their life journeys have led through Chicago and its west and south suburbs. They’re best friends and big success stories, and they’re now teaming up in a South Loop specialty medical practice.

Friends since meeting at the University of Chicago, they tested their friendship as roommates, on the way to becoming the first doctors in their families. Now they’re business partners, too, co-owners of the new practice, Quench Wellness, 1319 S. Michigan Ave. The practice focuses on a variety of services, including intravenous vitamin infusions, hormone replacement and vaginal laser therapy.

“We respect each other, and we’re accountable to each other, whether it’s been in college, medical school, in relationships or even working out together,” said Dekayie. “She’s like my accountability partner. That has strengthened our friendship, and it also has helped with our business.”

The new wellness practice’s catchy name relates to one of its core treatments. “The name Quench literally comes from the concept of quenching your thirst,” Dekayie said.

“The fact remains, with the busy American lifestyle, it can be challenging to get in the amount of water, vitamins and nutrients the body needs to fuel all that it needs to do. Dehydration, and furthermore vitamin depletion, is a huge burden on our health, both personally and as a society. IV infusions allow essential vitamins and nutrients to bypass the harsh environment of the stomach and inconsistencies of gut absorption guaranteeing direct bloodstream delivery to the organs and tissues that need them the most.”

Dekayie, of Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood, and Stephens-Archer, of Elmhurst, are both examples of the American Dream come true. Dekayie moved to Chicago from Ghana when she was 5½ years old. The former Park Forest resident and Rich East High School alumna graduated from the University of Chicago before earning her medical degree from Rush University and completing her residency at the University of Chicago. In addition to her work at Quench, Dekayie is a full-time emergency room physician and associate medical director of Advocate South Suburban Emergency Department in Hazel Crest.

Stephens-Archer, whose mother is from Guyana and father from Barbados, grew up in Chicago’s Ashburn neighborhood. She graduated from Whitney Young Magnet High School before heading to the University of Chicago. She studied medicine and trained as a resident at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She’s now a full-time hospital-based doctor for DuPage Medical Group and has two young daughters — Hailey, 5, and Zuri, 3.

“Part of the reason I started this business was I’m hoping my daughters can see what going after your dreams looks like,” Stephens-Archer said.

Dekayie and Stephens-Archer, both 35 and born about a month apart, first met in 2001 at University of Chicago’s summer visitation weekend, when they determined that each would attend the school in the fall. They were roommates all four years and for several years after graduation while in separate medical schools. Their commonalities also led them to co-found BestiesMD, a platform that aims to empower women through health education in a relatable and sisterly level.

Quench’s recent debut is the latest evolution in their friendship.

“It’s even harder than medical school because there’s no roadmap for being a successful business person, but Gameli and I are going to give it our all,” Stephens-Archer said.

Stephens-Archer said Quench will give her a chance to continue to educate and empower people and give her patients another way of looking at health maintenance and wellbeing.

“I look at medicine and see doctors prescribing pills, and I wanted to do something different,” Stephens-Archer said. “This business is a passion project, and the more I do it, the more empowered and energized I feel.”

Dekayie said Quench allows her another outlet for her creative, artistic side.

“I’m not a type of person who’s comfortable doing only one thing,” Dekayie said. “I never thought of myself as just a doctor. I’ve always done more than what I expected of myself.”

And even as they live about an hour’s drive apart now — Dekayie loves Hyde Park for its mix of artists, college students and eclectic people who have been living there for decades; Stephens-Archer adores Elmhurst because it’s family oriented, comfortable and her daughters already have a ton of friends just on their block — their friendship remains as close as ever.

“Doing this together, it makes things a lot easier,” Dekayie said. “But more than that, it’s making our piece of the world a little better and healthier.”

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