Integrative Medicine Goes Mainstream

Colorado hospitals show how holistic the future can be.

| November/December 2004

  • The McKee Center for Holistic Medicine in Loveland, Colorado, provides a comfortable environment to promote healing.
  • Stacey Niewenhuis is an administrative secretary who greets patients at the McKee Center.

If you think hospitals that combine the best of integrative, holistic medicine with mainstream therapies and state-of-the-art medical technology are a thing of the future, think again. The future is now, at least in progressive pockets scattered throughout the country. For a peek at what’s possible, a quick tour of three Denver-area hospitals gives a taste of what medicine can become.

Longmont United: Public Demand

This Colorado holistic center grew directly from public demand. More than eight years ago, Michelle Bowman, a board-certified geriatric nurse employed by Longmont United Hospital, ran the hospital’s Prestige Plus Program, a preventive health club for Longmont seniors. Wanting to learn more ways to nurture their health and prevent illness, the club’s seniors raised money to send Bowman to China to gather information about integrative health approaches.

When she returned in 1996 Bowman sought and received support and funding from the hospital and developed a clinic where practitioners of reflexology, herbal medicine, acupuncture, massage and other healing traditions now provide treatment. Currently program manager of the Health Center of Integrated Therapies, Bowman and the other practitioners are now employed by the hospital, and the center has five non-paid physician advisers.

Longmont United Hospital is a member of the Planetree organization, which promotes the idea of treating people in a way that acknowledges body, mind and spirit and creates a physical environment conducive to healing. Most clients at the Health Center of Integrated Therapies schedule appointments seeking a particular modality, though Bowman and other acupuncturists on staff also counsel clients on possible treatments and other practices available at the clinic.

Linda Whitedove, an acupuncturist and the clinic’s herbalist, does herbal consultations each Friday on an outpatient basis and occasionally with patients in the hospital. Whitedove’s thorough intake evaluation focuses primarily on diet, lifestyle and any herbs the client uses. She makes recommendations, then does a follow-up session in two to six weeks and ongoing sessions for as long as needed. Whitedove also refers patients to other practitioners at the clinic and to yoga classes, which patients can take at the hospital.

Another important part of her job is to speak about herbal medicine at the hospital, in the community and for groups such as diabetes and cancer organizations. Nurses, physicians, other health practitioners and interested people from the community attend these talks.

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