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Centers and Health Systems: NYBI Creates IM Department, plus Advocate, Marino, Inner Harmony PDF Print E-mail
Written by John Weeks   

Center and Health System Updates: NYBI Creates First Hospital IM Department, plus Novey's Advocate Program, Marino Center, Inner Harmony, ADD Centers

Summary: NYBI's Woodson Merrell, MD will be the nation's first chair of IM in a hospital department, venture firm creates integrated care centers for ADD, Novey's Advocate program continues to expand, Marino budget tops $8-million and is in the black, and Amato's Inner Harmony Group inks deal for integrative spa services ...

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New York Beth Israel Creates Nation's First Integrative Medicine Hospital Department

Image With the strong backing of David Shulkin, MD, president of the New York Beth Israel Medical Center (NYBI), the New York City-based hospital will be the first in the nation to have a formal Department of Integrative Medicine, according to Woodson Merrell, MD. Merrell, the long-time clinical leader for IM at NYBI, will be the first chair of the department.

David Shulkin, MD, NYBI president and CEO
In a conversation at CAM EXPO West, which Merrell chaired, and for which NYBI provided accredited CME, Merrell explains that a good deal of the department's early work will be in helping coordinate non-physician complementary and integrative care. Among the CAM/IM programs to be coordinated by the department are:

  • Radiation oncology has a holistic nurse who was hired to provide mindbody services, and who will also pilot an acupuncture program.
  • Orthopedics has an aggressive pre- and post-surgery relaxation program.
  • Family medicine is part of the national, six site, family medicine-integrative medicine residency program developed through the Program in Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine.
  • Licensed acupuncturists, massage therapists and chiropractors are all "credentialed to deliver care in the hospital," though little inpatient use has yet been made of them.
  • NYBI has a $1.5 million grant for music therapy from the Louis B. Armstrong Foundation.

The services  - expected to include massage, healing touch, Reiki, acupuncture, music, art, Alexander Technique, and meditation - will be coordinated through the new Department of Integrative Medicine. "Often the right hand hasn't known what the left hand is doing," says Merrell. He expects much stronger connection with multiple departments throughout the hospital.

Woody Merrell, MD, to be named NYBI's IM Department Chair
Anchoring the work is the Continuum Center for Health and Healing, the 10,000+ square foot NYBI integrative, outpatient center.
Merrell notes that the integrative medicine operation has brought in $15-million since in donations since Merrell was hired in 1998. Of this, $6.5 million was spent to open the Continuum Center. The Center is "just getting to break even," but only if administrative salaries (Education Director, Research Director, etc.) are not in the mix. Roughly 2/3 of the Center's services are provided by integrative medical doctors, and one-third by distinctly trained CAM providers.

When up and running, the hospital will finance the department. "They expect it to be a big attractor of cash - a magnet for fund-raising," Merrell reveals. He recalls that the initial founding of NYBI's outpatient center was the first initiative in NYBI history to which all of the hospital's trustees contributed. He says NYBI "loves doing innovative services." He reflects: "They like to have integrative medicine for what it is, and they like to have for marketing.

ImageADD Health and Wellness Centers Opens in Boston, Dallas

Claiming that their the centers will provide "one-stop shopping and comprehensive care" for parents and children seeking an "integrated approach" to attention deficit disorder, a November 15, 2006 release announced that
ADD Health and Wellness Centers has opened up clinics in Boston and Dallas. The founders, are a venture interest that previously established the Fibromyalgia and Fatigue Management Centers. A look at the firm's ADD website suggests that the principal integration is conventional medical services with psychology and education. Other "complementary and alternative non-medication therapies" are noted. 

Theresa Cerulli, MD
Theresa Cerulli, MD,
CMO for the start-up is quoted in the release as saying:
"The benefit of providing comprehensive, individualized programs is that there are multiple treatment options to prescribe that may make pharmaceuticals less necessary. Medication is often an important tool, but it certainly is not the only tool for delivering positive results.  We believe that for optimal clinical results, doctors must be well versed and involved in all treatment options-including medical, counseling, and nutritional." The release states that the group plans to maintain an outcomes database to track their patients. At least six more clinics are expected to be founded over the next year.

Note: Thanks to Lisa Marshall for bringing this story to my attention.

Advocate Health System

Don Novey, MD
Don Novey, MD the medical director with the Center for Complementary Medicine operation associated with Chicago's Advocate Health Care reports that the clinic is "thriving in its 9th year, financially solvent, and making inroad steadily into the system." The site hosts  one-month elective rotations for medical doctors and has now had over 50 participate.   Novey's model, an early financial  success, focused originally on covered chiropractic services which were covered under Advocate's own health plan. Growth in these services continues, says Novey: "We see an enormous number of chiropractic referrals from system physicians, many are referring to chiropractors as often as to physical therapists."

Novey has since been successful in getting services of the clinic's three licensed acupuncturists also covered by the Advocate plan. In the Advocate model, Novey coordinates care to the other providers through an extensive integrative medicine interview.

Marino Center for Progressive Health

A note to the Integrator from Robert DeNoble, CEO for the Marino Foundation, notes that Guy Pugh, MD, is stepping down
as medical director for the Marino Center for Progessive Health. During Pugh's term in his position, the clinics transited into not-for-profit status, as part of the Foundation. They also grew out from dependence on the generosity of the Marino family which had sustained the oriignal clinic through many years of operating in the red.

Guy Pugh, MD
reports that Marino current has 80 staff and employees in the organization's two clinics. They project that Marino operating revenue will reach about $8-million for 2006. DeNoble anticipates additional growth in the future, which may include starting up additional  centers. He notes that the the whole operation is "solidly in the black for the ten month period ending October 31, 2006." (Congrats to Pugh and DeNoble!). The firm is seeking a new medical director. Those interested can contact DeNoble through the Marino site.

Inner Harmony Wellness Centers

ImagePeter Amato, founder of Inner Harmony Group and the Inner Harmony Wellness Centers shares that his clinic has "just carved out a wellness contract for a spa in Scranton," Pennsylvania, which is the heart of the Inner Harmony operation which includes a free-standing center, hospital affiliated services, consultation, and a mindfulness in the schools/integral education program. (See related Integrator article.) Amato notes that the spa has 60 employees and a 30,000 person mailing list.

Under the contract, Inner Harmony will provide medical services, medical acupuncture, nutritional consultation, anti-aging, chiropractic, Yoga, an organic cafe and, says Amato, "of course our core long standing integral education components which merges health and spirituality with consciousness." In addition, Amato notes that the group has applied for a zoning variance to offer the integral education programs for practitioners and healers "through a
heal the healer program."

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