HEALING HORIZONS: Offering a ‘collaborative’ approach to health care
Free Press Health Columnist
HEALING HORIZON EXPANDS
We have recently expanded Healing Horizons so that we may provide more services and increased scheduling times for you. To celebrate, we are having an open house during which we are providing FREE food and sample services in exchange for donations to our Healthy Kids Backpack Program Food Drive. Join us on 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, July 20, at 2139 N. 12th St., #7.
At Healing Horizons Integrated Health Solutions our mission statement reads, “Our mission and commitment is to provide quality health care within a collaboratively integrated wellness model, in which the partnership between practitioners and clients form the basis for constructing and implementing individualized care to achieve optimal health.”
Buzz words like “integrative” and “collaborative” are sometimes used as catch phrases by various medical clinics without those clinics truly investing in such an endeavor. Furthermore, it is occurring to me that many of my very own patients do not have a clear idea of what these concepts could potentially mean for their health care. Exploring these concepts could enable each patient to navigate their own health care from a more powerful place.
Before defining integrative medicine, it is helpful to understand the CAM acronym stands for complementary and alternative medicine. Alternative medicine tends to include any therapy outside of modern Western medicine (also termed “conventional” medicine) while complementary medicine combines alternative medicine with conventional medicine.
Integrative medicine from our perspective at Healing Horizons is perhaps best defined by Andrew Weil, M.D. He states integrative medicine is “a healing-oriented medicine that takes account of the whole person (body, mind, and spirit), including all aspects of lifestyle. It emphasizes the therapeutic relationship and makes use of all appropriate therapies, both conventional and alternative (and complementary)”.
Dr. Weil goes on to describe the principles of integrative medicine:
• A partnership between patient and practitioner in the healing process
• Appropriate use of conventional and alternative methods to facilitate the body’s innate healing response
• Consideration of all factors that influence health, wellness and disease, including mind, spirit and community as well as body
• A philosophy that neither rejects conventional medicine nor accepts alternative therapies uncritically
• Recognition that good medicine should be based in good science, be inquiry driven, and be open to new paradigms
• Use of natural, effective, less-invasive interventions whenever possible
• Use of the broader concepts of promotion of health and the prevention of illness as well as the treatment of disease
• Training of practitioners to be models of health and healing, committed to the process of self-exploration and self-development
Collaborative medicine is less widely recognized than the prior terms discussed thus far. Collaborative medicine is at the heart of what we do at Healing Horizons. To us, collaborative medicine involves using not only integrative medicine as a basis for philosophy in treatment of our patients, but emphasizes working together as providers with our patients (the degree of which is approved by each patient).
Working together at Healing Horizons means:
• Creating a health care center by unifying the expertise of a team of practitioners who are proficient and adept in their respective fields of healthcare. This team of providers from multiple modalities work within the same clinic AND with providers outside of our clinic.
• Regular communication between providers during face to face collaborative care meetings. These meetings are the ultimate way to look under every stone to find answers to achieve each patient’s individualized health goals. Then, potential treatment plans are constructed with the patient’s input.
• Literal combinations of therapies may be suggested. For example, acupuncture with guided imagery or other behavioral health tools, acupuncture with facials, acupuncture with massage or Rolf Structural Integration, massage within a chiropractic session, or combining homeopathy with Chinese herbs.
AN EXAMPLE OF COLLABORATIVE CARE
Practicing health care in this way works very well for maintaining general wellness, treating more simple health conditions, and addressing complex and chronic disease patterns. In order to get a practical sense of this philosophy of health care, let’s consider a condition suffered by many Americans — arthritis.
During a collaborative care meeting, the acupuncturist may present the diagnosis for the patient from a Chinese medicine perspective, which may be cold-damp invading the joints, and suggest acupuncture for pain relief. The dietician may suggest the patient avoid cold and damp foods and foods that cause inflammation. The psychologist may suggest pain relieving mind strategies and discuss the importance of addressing the emotional aspect if the arthritis is debilitating. The chiropractor may talk about aligning the body in a way that optimizes the nervous system. The Rolf Structural Integration provider may suggest making sure the soft tissues of the body are organized to ensure proper alignment while the massage therapist may suggest stretching the soft tissue surrounding the joint to alleviate tightness. The physical therapist may suggest specific exercises to strengthen certain areas while alleviating unnecessary stress on the joints. And, we as a team, may discuss the benefits or drawbacks of utilizing Western medicine arthritis drugs after discussing the patient’s case with his or her primary care provider. The patient is then presented with a cohesive, individualized, and complete treatment plan that ensures the patient is able to live life to the fullest potential.
April L. Schulte-Barclay is a doctor of acupuncture and Oriental medicine and is a licensed acupuncturist. She is licensed by the Colorado Board of Medical Examiners and is certified by the National Certification Commission of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. She is founder and clinic director of Healing Horizons Integrated Health Solutions, located at 2139 N. 12th St., #7. For more information, call 970-256-8449.
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