Myrna Brind Center of Integrative Medicine a marketing pearl for Jefferson Health System An Integrator interview with medical director Daniel Monti, MD and philanthropic backer Ira Brind offers insight into recent developments at the Myrna Brind Center of Integrative Medicine.

Myrna Brind Center of Integrative Medicine a marketing pearl for Jefferson Health System   

An Integrator interview with medical director Daniel Monti, MD and philanthropic backer Ira Brind offers insight into recent developments at the Myrna Brind Center of Integrative Medicine. The 13-year-old operation now provides over 12,000 patient visits annually in its posh home in a former Federal Reserve Bank building in downtown Philadelphia. Monti expects visits to grow more than 10% in 2011. Clinical services are organized based on an MD-centric, collaborative model. Top diagnoses are cancer, pain, wellness, auto-immune and gastro-intestinal issues, according to Monti. Says Brind: “The Center, in this facility, has high strategic impact. The Center’s value is not just it’s bottom line. We have a very high profile list of clients here. Our reputation continues to grow. When doctors come they are impressed. That helps with referrals. We’ll get more doctors to come here. The patients are impressed too.” The Center has formed good partnerships with local media. Inpatient services are not presently a part of the mix, because there is no mechanism for payment. Brind thinks some aspects of the Accountable Care Organization model may offer future opportunities for inpatient payment.

Comment: The visit to the former Federal Reserve Building provoked an almost dissociative response. How can one not be dumbfounded by the cultural dissonance between these philanthropically-backed manifestations of integrative medicine and the grassroots, hang-up-a-shingle, natural/alternative medicine movement which seeded it? Brind’s generously-based model seems to be working to attract his target clientele of health system and civic leaders.

Bermans’ U Maryland Center celebrates 20th anniversary with kick-off of $20-million campaign   

On May 17, 2011, the nation’s charter academically-based center for complementary (and now integrative) medicine celebrated its 20th year. The University of Maryland Center for Integrative Medicine, founded by Brian Berman, MD and Sue Berman, used the occasion to cut a ribbon on new office space. They also kicked off a $20-million fundraising effort. An anonymous donor has given them a $7.5 million match grant. Speakers at the celebration evidenced the Center’s importance to the local and national community. In comments available here on the University of Maryland site, US Senator Barbara Mikulski joked that Berman was “a 20-year overnight success.” She noted her admiration for both Berman and the University of Maryland leadership for embracing the integrative approach. She specifically called out Berman’s policy role. She also underscored the key role his spouse, Sue Berman, has played in the Center’s growth and success. Another speaker, Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, U Maryland’s vice president for medical affairs, honored the Center for “an impressive list of over 400 peer-reviewed publications, which has significantly expanded the body of knowledge about integrative medicine and how it can be used to treat diseases and conditions such as arthritis, chronic back pain, inflammatory bowel disease, and cancer pain.” Other speakers included U Maryland president Jay Perman. He credited the Bermans’ team for modeling academic collaboration and interprofessionalism.  

Comment: Brian Berman brought to Maryland what was already a rich, clinical experience and curiosity. In the 1980s he had studied and practiced acupuncture and homeopathy in England, and explored other integrative practices prior to the founding of the Center. All the while, his interest and skills in Western medical research led him to become the most funded of researchers by NCCAM. His group has had over $30-million in grants. Yet the work at U Maryland has always seemed, as Mikulski pointed out, the success of not one but two Bermans. Comments on the site from Mikulski, Reece and Perman speak to the abilities of the Bermans’ as educators and diplomats in the Maryland system and in US policy. The $20-million campaign is an interesting addition to their ambitions for The Institute for Integrative Health, which they founded in 2009. The health of Baltimore and the nation will each be bettered by their work in the next two decades. Congratulations! 

Alliance for Massage Therapy Education urges changes in national certification for massage  

A press release from the young but ambitious Alliance for Massage Therapy Education calls for significant changes at the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB). Alliance executive director Rick Rosen, MA, LMT, took the lead on an 8-page position paper entitled The Optimal Role of National Certification in the Massage Therapy Field. Rosen argues that shifts in the field in recent years have altered NCBTMB’s relevance. The first shift is vast expansion in massage licensing and the creation of the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards which now offers a unified licensing exam. According to the report, over 80% of recent massage graduates take the new exam. NCBTMB’s certification formerly served this role. Rosen argues that NCBTMB should focus on specialty certification for those among the nation’s 250,000 licensed massage therapists who are choosing to work in focused environments, such as inpatient care. In addition, Rosen urges NCBTMB to sunset its own continuing education approval program and adopt the program theFederation and Alliance collaborated to develop.

 Comment: The Alliance is to the massage field as the Community Acupuncture Network is to the acupuncture field. Each is a “disruptive innovator.” NCBTMB’s role as a support for licensing agencies has certainly diminished. The altered role, however, will also mean a significantly decreased budget for the NCBTMB.  

National University of Health Sciences and Georgetown University program launch agreement for mutual cooperation 

Lombard, Illinois-based  National University of Health Sciences (NUHS) announced on June 1, 2011 a new cooperative arrangement with the graduate program in complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) at Georgetown University at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington DC. Under the agreement, “faculty at the two schools will work together to help students seeking advanced degrees in health care.” They will do so “by advising students of the benefits of each other’s programs and providing preferential seating and advanced standing in each other’s programs when appropriate.” NUHS offers degrees of doctor of chiropractic, doctor of naturopathic medicine, master of science in acupuncture, and master of science in Oriental medicine. The co-director of the Georgetown program, Aviad “Adi” Haramati, PhD, says that the academic affiliation is intended to “break down the silos that hold the disciplines apart” and create relationships “between the disciplines and the educational institutions that prepare the nation’s future healthcare providers.” NUHS president James Winterstein, DC notes one particular value of the Georgetown program for NUHS students and applicants who have interests primarily in CAM research and public policy, but who may not wish provide care. The agreement with NUHS follows a similar agreement, reported here, that Georgetown developed with Bastyr University. 


Tai Sophia graduates 233 from 7 programs in celebration of 30th year    

Thirty years ago, June 6, 1981 was the start of the first acupuncture class taught at Tai Sophia in Maryland. From that single class of 23 acupuncture students, the multipurpose institute now has 10 graduate programs and nearly 500 students. Among the 233 total graduates, 65 in the founding Master of Acupuncture program were surpassed by 69 who completed a Graduate Certificate in Transformative Leadership. Tai Sophia provost and executive vice president for academic affairs Judith Broida, PhD attributed the growth to “a greater number of people and organizations seek(ing) an integrative approach to health and wellness and as individuals increasingly seek to work and live to their fullest potential.” At graduation ceremonies, speaker Charles Eisenstein, a faculty member at Goddard College, presents Tai Sophia’s value in terms of global change: “Our old ways of making sense of the world no longer make sense, and the tools based on these ways – tools of reason, of technology, of separation and control – are becoming less and less effective. Tai Sophia is grounded in a new and very ancient way of being human, and its graduates are helping to create a world aligned with it.” Frank Vitale, MBA is the Institute’s president and CEO.

Comment: Under founders Bob Duggan and Dianne Connelly, the Institute was outspoken about its efforts to model a radical break from the disease focus of health care and health professions education. Duggan calls school as an “academic wellness institution.” The school’s god-parent, and a teacher to Duggan, was Ivan Illich, author of Medical Nemesis. I’ve always been partial to the Duggan/Connolly outspoken commitment to wellness, especially having observed the tendency of many to be corralled into increasing disease orientation. It is good to see the Vitale-Broida team continue this focus.