Wellness Corner - September 2011
Welcome to “The Wellness Corner.”
This is the first installment of a monthly health column on prevention, wellness, and community health.
My name is Dr. Gary Pace, and I work at the Forestville Wellness Center, the newest addition to the West County Health Centers. We also operate the Occidental Area Health Center, Russian River Health Center in Guerneville, Forestville Teen Clinic, and the Sebastopol Community Health Center. As a Federally Qualified Health Center, we are part of a national network of safety net providers. Our health centers provide comprehensive medical care to all ages, for people with most types of insurance, including Medi-Care, Medi-Cal and the uninsured.
The innovative design of the Forestville Wellness Center allows us to offer Integrative services to the community, especially those who were previously denied access due to finances.
What is Integrative Medicine?
From Andrew Weil’s website:
“Integrative medicine emphasizes the innate healing capacities of the organism; views patients as mental-emotional beings, spiritual entities, and community members as well as physical bodies; addresses all aspects of lifestyle in evaluating health and illness; places great importance on the role of the practitioner-patient relationship in the healing process; and makes use of all appropriate therapies.
Practitioners of integrative medicine use less invasive, less expensive, and more natural treatments whenever possible, but they neither reject conventional therapies nor accept alternative ones uncritically. Instead, they are taught that good medicine is based in good science, that it is inquiry-driven and open to new paradigms.”
Dr. Weil has been a strong proponent for choosing the best medical treatment based on scientific evidence, whether it is a pharmaceutical medicine, herb, acupuncture, diet, or supplement. Most patients don’t care about what philosophy their treatment comes from, they just want to feel better.
Wellness is a particularly important area that incorporates alternative and mainstream approaches. Diet, exercise, stress reduction, and good sleep are all essential components of a healthy lifestyle. Conventional medicine has historically focused more on disease rather than health, so we are benefitting greatly from alliances with practitioners in the alternative world where we learn to support more balance in people’s lives.
Aren’t these types of services already available in Sonoma County?
We are very fortunate to have a large group of talented healers in our community that work with a wide variety of modalities. The historic separation of conventional medicine from the alternative is changing, especially in our region, and Integrative Medicine is quickly becoming a preferred way of approaching health problems.
Several individual providers and group practices already exist in our region, including the Integrative Medical Center, Gordon Medical Associates, Lois Johnson, and Hill Park Clinic in Petaluma. Our area is also a hotbed for Western Herbal Medicine with the California School of Herbal Studies, Traditional Medicinals Teas, the Sonoma County Herb Exchange, and several excellent herbalists, teachers, and herbal apothecaries present in the county. Other powerful healing approaches, including ayurveda, bodywork, and Traditional Chinese Medicine are also well represented in West County.
At the Integrative Fellowship at Sutter Family Practice Residency in Santa Rosa, Drs. Ben Brown and Wendy Kohatsu are offering integrative services to people who previously have not been able to afford them and teaching these skills to doctors in training. Recently, they hosted the first national conference on “Integrative Medicine for the Underserved” in Santa Rosa, which was sold-out and very well received.
In addition, there are several local organizations working on health related issues from this larger perspective, including the Ceres Community Project, Drug Abuse Alternatives Center, Northern California Center for Well Being, and Graton Community Acupuncture.
With this plethora of resources, the Forestville Wellness Center is excited to collaborate to provide wellness services to patients in West County because we feel that this is the future of medicine.
Can anyone get an appointment at the Forestville Wellness Center?
Our program is in its early stages of development, and presently, we are only seeing patients who are already established at our health centers. In the coming months, we will be developing classes and groups that are open to the larger community including those who have other medical homes.
We are grateful for the opportunity to discuss health issues in the Gazette, and we welcome your comments and questions about our services.