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The Integrator Blog. News, Reports and Networking for the Business, Education, Policy and Practice of Integrative Medicine, CAM and Integrated Health Care. - In Memoriam: Naturopathic Medicine's Bob Timberlake and CAM Coverage Leader Steve Gorman
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In Memoriam: Naturopathic Medicine's Bob Timberlake and CAM Coverage Leader Steve Gorman PDF Print E-mail
Written by John Weeks   

In Memoriam: Naturopathic Medicine's Bob Timberlake and CAM Coverage Leader Steve Gorman

Summary: Two individuals who have played significant roles in different areas of the integrative care universe died recently. Robert (Bob) Timberlake was a leader in jump-starting the re-emergence of naturopathic medicine, and particularly its expansion of new licensing of naturopathic physicians in the 1990s, serving later in a leadership capacity with Vital Nutrients, a quality leader in natural products. He was a valued colleague and friend ... Steve Gorman, founder of Alternative Health Insurance Services, began talking about, and dreaming up ways to expand, coverage of alternative medicine services over two decades ago. Adviser Michael Levin offers appreciation for Gorman's life. 

1.   Robert (Bob) Timberlake

I met Bob Timberlake roughly 18 years ago. He was a thankful client of a New Hampshire-based naturopathic physician. He was in transition with his professional life. At the time, I was executive director of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP).  Bob thought he had something to offer the profession that had been meaningful to him in regaining his health. I didn't have much to offer except a chance to get on the phone with a list of naturopathic physician strangers who were not AANP members. I told him if he was successful in recruiting them to join the half-decade-old professional association, we might be able to pay him something.

Bob Timberlake, and spouse Sylvia: major role in opening the option of ND services
Bob did an exemplary job. He began forming a deep network of lasting relationships as he also discovered an area where he felt he could be of greater service. The naturopathic profession had (and still has) a critical need to expand the jurisdictions in which NDs can legally practice. When Bob arrived on the scene, the profession's licensing was largely a West and Northwest phenomenon (WA, OR, AK, AZ, HI, plus CT). In New Hampshire, for instance, the care Bob received was from a naturopathic doctor who was not licensed and was therefore at risk of legal action. Bob began supporting a nascent licensing effort there. He became executive director of the New Hampshire Association of Naturopathic Doctors.

Bob's skills in New Hampshire caught the attention of the AANP's political leadership. He was invited by AANP founder James Sensenig, ND, into a role in co-directing licensing efforts across the country. Bob helped perform a string of small miracles for the naturopathic profession. In states with as few as 6-8 practicing naturopathic doctors, Bob combined the right mix of passionate commitment and political savvy to convince legislatures to pass laws to license into being a profession which was typically unknown to them before Bob's introduction. When Bob's involvement in that work ended, Connecticut was no longer the sole state with licensing in the Northeast. Legislatures in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine had passed licensing statutes. Utah, Idaho and Puerto Rico also passed laws, with significant support from Bob. The momentum prepared the ground for the profession's large state action in California - which later passed licensing - and in states like Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts and New York where work continues today.
Throughout this work, Bob's financial compensation from the profession was meager - a fraction of his worth. His was a labor of love.

Since those days, Bob has stayed connected to the naturopathic profession and to other integrative practitioners as a principal in the development of Vital Nutrients, founded by naturopathic physicians, a natural products firm which is known for elevating the very idea of product quality.    

I received a small flurry of notes early last week sharing that Bob died at his home in Fort Collins, Colorado with his spouse, Sylvia and many friends by his side. Bob had been battling panceatic cancer for 8 months. Sensenig, in a note, called Bob's period of work with the AANP
"the most successful licensing efforts [NDs] have had as a profession." He added that "from that point on Bob continued to devote himself to our profession in one way or another." Said Sensenig: "He was as much a part of our tribe as any of us."

Bob's impact is felt daily, weekly and monthly by the literally thousands of individuals in many states who now have access to the services of an expanding number of licensed, health-oriented, integrative, naturopathic physicians. Thanks, Bob.

Shortly before I posted this, I spoke with Rick Kirschner, ND, a fellow friend and colleague of Bob's who called me after he learned that Bob had died. We had a good conversation about big things and small, in Bob's spirit. I asked Rick if he wanted to send something along. He sent this.
"I met Bob Timberlake when I first met you. Thinking about him back in the earlier days of the AANP brings back sweet memories of boldness and hope, big ideas and innocent determination.  From that time until his passing, Bob was an incredibly sweet-natured and generous spirited man with a great love of life, a great big laugh, a great smile, a great desire to do good, a great willingness to go the extra mile and a great stubborn streak that allowed him to go where someone needed to go when others would or could not.  In a word, he was great.  And I'm certain that we who knew him have suffered a great loss in his passing, though we are greater for having known him.  Like so many others, I am deeply grateful for his presence in my life, and I do miss him."

2.    Steve Gorman, Alternative Health Insurance Services, Inc.

insurance coverage, CAM, alternative medicine
Steve Gorman - promoting CAM coverage
Integrator adviser and columnist Michael Levin sent me news of the death of Steve Gorman, an individual with whom I have long been acquainted. I invited Michael's comments on Steve's life. He wrote:
"The business of integrative medicine is advanced by the work of many stakeholders, large and small, who share a common vision.
"One member of our community is Steve Gorman, who, in 1985, created Alternative Health Insurance Services, Inc.  Steve saw coverage for chiropractic and other 'alternative' interventions as an option his clients both wanted and needed. He chipped away at that small corner of the universe and made a difference.

"After losing his beloved wife to inflammatory breast cancer two years ago (and establishing the Elaine Anestos Gorman Foundation in her honor, Steve began his own fight against cancer last December.

"Though I’ve only met Steve a handful of times, I was impressed by both his passion and commitment to healthcare transformation.  Always the gentleman, Steve passed on March 29, 2008. He will be missed. For those wishing to honor his memory, contributions can be made to the foundation he estabished for his wife."

Michael D. Levin, Founder
Health Business Strategies

Steve was truly one of the pioneers in the world of "CAM coverage." After working in the natural foods industry (1973-1986), Steve shifted his focus to insurance, including work with members of US labor unions, on how to increase access to complementary and alternative medicine. The vehicle for his work with unions was the Alliance for Alternatives in Healthcare, which he founded in 1990. Steve and his work were featured in numerous publications including the Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Congressional Quarterly Researcher, and the Chicago Tribune. He was a good man.

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