OCEAN PARK — For some, the doctor’s office is a dreaded place. Shirlee Jackson set out to change that.
Jackson is the CEO of The Green Room Santa Monica, a personal care center designed to cater to the needs of patients. The Green Room offers a plethora of services to those who visit — from providing facials and massages to getting dry cleaning — all for free.
The clients, however, are what make The Green Room unique. The Green Room’s services are complimentary to people who are patients of doctors associated with Ocean Park Health Management, where Jackson also works as the CEO.
“We started getting these high-profile and celebrity clients,” Jackson said. “And I was so embarrassed to have them wait in the waiting room. I wanted a private, relaxing place where they could wait for their appointment.”
And thus, The Green Room was born.
A small spa nestled in the middle of the medical complex at 2716 Ocean Park Blvd., The Green Room is an oasis for patients. Jackson and her employees offer manicures, pedicures, facials and massages — like any normal spa — in addition to a variety of other services. If clients have children that need attention, an employee offers to take them to the park next door. If they need to purchase groceries, an employee is more than willing to go to the nearest store. If they would like to use a computer or listen to an iPod, The Green Room has those available, too.
The main goal, Jackson said, is to provide patients with comfort and privacy. They have enough to worry about with their medical issues, Jackson said. It’s her job to help take their minds off things.
“The patients, the neurological patients who have horrible spine injuries and brain injuries, they want to come see their doctor,” Jackson said. “Then they come here and just say it is so relaxing.”
Jackson and Dawnie Glass, the manager of The Green Room, say they view their role as an important one in the healing process.
“Let me spiritually help you,” Glass said. “So you can focus on getting you better.”
Jackson, who grew up in Tennessee and went to college on the East Coast, said Santa Monica has the perfect atmosphere for a place like The Green Room.
“When you go down there and see the patients chilling out, Santa Monica is conducive to that,” Jackson said. “It’s one of those places where you immediately feel calm, but when I wake up in the morning and feel the need to put my teeth into something, I can.”
The combination of a big city and small-town feel was what Jackson was looking for when she decided to move from New York City following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
“I grew up in Tennessee, and I was always small town. All I wanted was to get out in the world and live in big, big cities. After 9/11, I wanted both,” Jackson said. “In Santa Monica, you can hang outside and have your dog and go to the beach. It’s friendly and people come up and talk to you. I love that it’s not too isolated. Malibu felt isolated, the South Bay felt isolated, but Santa Monica feels like a small community.”
Santa Monica, Jackson said, was the perfect place to open The Green Room in 2002. After its success, she’s looking for other similar locations to expand her services. She’s thinking about Brooklyn in New York City — she says it has a similar vibe to Santa Monica — and eventually Chicago, but it all depends on the place.
“People will ask, ‘Why did you pick this city?’” she said. “And I tell them it’s all about the feel.”
For now, Jackson is working on expanding The Green Room’s services to other patients in Santa Monica. Although the services were initially offered to patients at the medical center, they have expanded to offer both complimentary and discount services to chemotherapy patients at a nearby clinic and pick a different organization to assist during different times of need — firefighters and their spouses were able to visit The Green Room during the recent wildfire season.
The best part of the job, Jackson said, is that she can offer these services to medical patients for free.
“It’s all about giving back,” Jackson said. “It’s all about you.”