November 2011 John Weeks Integrator Round-up:  Integrative Centers

Article surveys role of philanthropists in integrative medicine 

Integrative center consultant Glenn Sabin of FON Therapeutics has offered up his reflections on the Evolution of Philanthropy in Integrative Medicine. He supports applying philanthropic dollars to performing research, community outreach and for educational purposes. However, while he believes he “will take some heat for this,” Sabin argues that philanthropically subsidizing integrative clinical services “for all but the indigent or those that cannot afford to pay is unsustainable as a clinic/business model.” He points out that this can be “a costly long-term decision that has over time resulted in the closing of many integrative medicine programs.”

Comment: It is almost impossible to imagine the integrative medicine movement without thinking of philanthropy and philanthropists. What other medical fields are as cobbled to, energized through, and hobbled by, this need? Meantime, as I note in comments on Sabin’s piece, the creation of the holistic medicical, naturopathic, chiropractic and other clinics that predated the invention of integrative centers were and remain of an opposite ilk. These necessarily followed the Jim Henson’s toddler’s motto: I can do it. I can do it myself! Fascinating to consider where we would be now had, say, 50% of the philanthropic millions used as battering rams to break down the antagonism in hospitals and academic health systems been re-directed. What if these dollars were strategically used to empower for those whose sweat equity created the response to patient demand known as “CAM” and holism? Some of us are working on this going forward and will be happy to increasingly find partners! There has clearly been value in top-down philanthropy. Be smart to have some more bottom-up, empowering these other disciplines and providers toward integrative leadership.