Dr. Alice Almendral: Soaring into the world of beauty and healing

‘Because beautification heals’ is Doc Alice’s own Hippocratic Oath. 

By Maricar CP Hampton

Alicia Almendral (nee Sta. Maria) – the youngest of three siblings from Pasay City — knew she wanted to be a doctor. A nurturing doctor-uncle took care of her when she was bitten by a dog as a little girl. She healed, felt good and was amazed at the whole process. She wished she was that kind of a doctor. This would be the beginning of her journey to medicine.

With her mother, a nurse, as her “biggest influencer,” she studied Nursing at the University of Sto. Tomas. Four years later, she got a post-graduate degree in Medicine & Surgery from the same school. She went to the U.S. in 1999 not planning on staying but her family convinced her of the many opportunities the country has to offer.

She settled in the Bronx which she found friendly, welcoming, and multiracial. Here, she found her way. She worked as a registered nurse in elder care facilities. In 2002, she crossed over to the medical field specializing in Family Medicine and Geriatrics.

“The scope of practice in Family Medicine, seeing the very young to the very old – a broad spectrum of patients I can help – triggered my altruistic desires,” she said.

Like a butterfly

“Doc Alice” – then a young mother juggling career and four children —  decided to open a private practice as a family doctor in her home in Pelham Gardens.  

Encountering patients in her family practice who were very happy about wart removals and other beautification procedures she’s done, it opened her eyes to the power of beautification as a form of healing. It was an epiphany. By simply making people look good, they can feel good too. This paved the way for her medical aesthetics practice, Monarch Medical Aesthetics, which was established in 2008.

At Monarch, she performs procedures such as Botox injections, dermal fillers, microblading for eyebrows, weight loss, stretch marks, and scars therapy and thread contouring for the body. Treatments that allow patients of a certain age to feel good about themselves and ready to face the world again.  

Weekend at a theme park with children Alyssandra, Adrian, Aiden, and Adam.

“It mainly has to do with life changes,” she said. “Like a butterfly which was trapped in its own cocoon for a period of time, one can emerge as a free, beautiful and better version of yourself,” she said.

Her interest inaesthetic medicine came about while she was attending a geriatric fellowship. “During that time, I was already thinking about how to help care for the Baby Boomers and be financially productive too.”

With the kids entering their teens, she focused more on Monarch and added her own primary care practice. Meanwhile, Doc Alice has returned to being an attending physician. At the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, she is a Civil Surgeon providing physical exams, bloodwork, and vaccinations to applicants.

At the start of the new year, she is set to open a second clinic this time in Manhattan. It will be located alongside the Gloria Cabrera Salon and Spa on East 23rd Street. She looks to the new year as bringing “exciting” new ventures. Currently, she is in talks with Montage Skin Science in the Philippines to franchise Monarch-Montage in the U.S.

Billiards and biking are her stress relievers.

“This will give opportunities to nurses, nurse practitioners and doctors to have their own spa,” she said. “We will provide training and give them a chance to have their own business.” She is also eyeing to start a concierge and telemedicine clinic in the city.  

No quitter

“These are some of my goals for the coming years,” she said. “When I find something interesting I get challenged then I try it. I don’t quit.”

What the end of her marriage did was strengthen her relationship with her children. Single parenthood brought them much closer. Alyssandra, 17, is a senior and in the process of deciding where to apply for college.  Alice beams with pride that Aly wants to be a doctor.  Adrian,14, is choosing between becoming a plastic surgeon or working in Finance. Aiden,13, wants to be an engineer but is showing an interest in medicine. Adam,11, wants to run the company his mother has built.

Attending the Red Poinsettia Ball with life and business partner John Baltazar. Photo by Nonoy Rafael.

“I pick them up from school and bring them to their extra-curricular activities. I make it a point to see and talk to them every day. On weekends we go out, we watch movies, attend parties, go to theme parks, or try different restaurants,” she said.

Doc Alice said she is ready to entertain retirement in about 10 years. “It’s all about leaving a legacy. They can continue (the business). By that time my daughter will already be a doctor and I will just be a consultant.”

She is in a relationship with her managing  partner John Baltazar, a UP alumnus with an MBA in Health Care Administration and System Improvement at Walden University. With over 35 years of health care experience combined, these business partners are growing Monarch Medical Aesthetics to its fullest potential, continuously developing new ideas to help patients, looking out for collaborations that make sense, eager to see how high it can fly – while enjoy each other’s company.

It has been a multidimensional path as Doc Alice provides services in Urgent Care, Primary Care, and Aesthetics.

She said, “I love every bit of what I do as a physician. But the most gratifying is being able to help my patients understand the whats and whys of their conditions and how we can address them together. When I see people’s health improving making them happy, I feel happy too.”

© The FilAm 2020

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