Integrative Medicine, Complementary Alternative Medicine and Health Round-up February 2012 featuring the topics of:   Policy, Research, Integerative Centers, Integrative healthcare professions, academic medicine and health, healthcare media updates, CAM research, practice and people.

Jefferson-Myrna Brind begins integrative pediatrics program 

The Jefferson University’s Myrna Brind Center of Integrative Medicine has announced creation of a new integrative pediatrics program. The program will be led by Christina DiNicola,MD, FAAP. In a release from the Center, DiNicola states: “Integrative medicine’s natural and comprehensive approach can help young people feel better, perform better and thrive at their fullest potential. An integrative approach acts to enhance conventional pediatric care.” The “whole child approach” of the program is presented as treating multiple medical conditions including “ADD/ADHD, allergies, asthma, behavioral and developmental concerns, digestive disturbances, cancer care support, emotional health, eating problems, chronic headache, sleep problems, weight management and more.”

DiNicola, a Bravewell Scholar at the University of Arizona College of Medicine in the Arizona Center of Integrative Medicine graduates of the states that the move is a response to consumers: “Families were growing more curious about alternative therapies and their use as a complement to traditional medical care.”
Pathways to Wellness reports remarkable pattern of community and public health participation

Recently Demie Stathoplos, MBA, MSW, the director of Boston’s Pathways to Wellness participated in a recent dialogue organized by the Academic Consortium for Complementary and Alternative Health Care, with which I am involved. The exchange explored the present and potential future intersection between the licensed so-called “CAM” disciplines and the public health. More precisely: Where is there a fit with the National Prevention, Health Promotion and and Public Health Council? Afterwards, Stathoplos tapped out an overview of Pathways’ involvement in community medicine and public health initiatives. Pathways’ clinical services features acupuncture and Oriental medicine, bodywork and Yoga in partnership with numerous centers and agencies. The remarkable contributions are a national model. Stathoplos granted permission to re-publish this overview for Integrator readers.


  • “Participation in research and national conversation on Public Health: Our Research Director, Beth Sommers, PhD, LAc, serves as the co-chair on the Alternative and Complementary Health Practices Group of the APHA.  She is editor of a forthcoming European Journal of Integrative Medicine that is focusing on “Public Health in Integrative Medicine”.  She writes regularly on public health issues in Acupuncture Today.  Her research has focused on the public health impact of acupuncture on medication adherence in people living with HIV/AIDS, and on the reduction of cravings for addictive substances in military veterans.
  • Safety & Efficacy: Pathways has been in the forefront of ensuring safety and efficacy of the practice of acupuncture in Massachusetts. We were asked by the Massachusetts Dept. of Public Health to develop standards of care for the provision of acupuncture. We assist in training of acupuncturists by working with the New England School of Acupuncture to provide supervised intern clinics, that also allow us to offer free or low cost care to people in the community.  Because of our work with clients with HIV/AIDS, our training is excellent in the areas of confidentiality, clean needle/needle count methods, needle stick procedures and other clinical practices.  We collect baseline data and treatment data on clients served in our main clinic, and maintain a client database that allows us to analyze the data to determine trends in efficacy.  In one example, we were able to determine that for a specific group of clients with pain, that gains were only seen up to 40 treatments, after which no further improvements were found.
  • Consumer Education: Pathways clinicians provide free education on the efficacy of acupuncture through outreach activities (talks and demonstrations) to underserved communities, including elders, LGBTQ clients, Spanish speaking groups (i.e, hotel workers), and AIDS Service Organizations.  We provide free workshops on topics related to Chinese medicine  – i.e., Acupuncture for Allergies, Chinese Herbal Medicine, Acupuncture for Headache, etc.  Our clinicians also speak at professional conferences locally, nationally and internationally. We reach about 1500 lay and medical professionals each year.
  • 10 years+ of in-home acupuncture and massage to elders and people living with complex health issues and/or disabilities, referred by RN Case managers to address pain, mood/anxiety, digestive issues, quality of life issues – assisting people to remain in their homes, and reduce use of emergency and other medical services.  Reimbursed through elder service plans or care management groups with disability case load.  We served 90+ clients last year with about 2300 treatments, and growth this year has been about 35% over last year.
  • Referrals from primary care physicians at the South End Community Health Center for acupuncture and/or massage. We are in 5th year of a pilot program with a local insurer which reimburses for acupuncture with South End Community Health Center PCP referral for one of 5 diagnoses: pain, headache, menopausal sx, menstrual sx, carpal tunnel sx.  Our clinical results show statistically significant improvement in pain symptom duration, frequency and intensity for clients treated for pain and headache.  Our results also show statistically significant improvements in quality of life indicators.  Insurer’s analysis indicated that they see minimal cost impact on reimbursing for acupuncture vs. matched demographic set of clients with pain and headache who do not receive acupuncture.
  • Infectious Disease units of Mass. General Hospital, Tufts Medical Center and Cambridge Zinberg Clinic  Pathways has been providing free acupuncture in our main clinic and in hospital and community health settings for people with HIV/AIDS for 22 years. Our satellite programs are funded through grants from the host agencies. We collect data on adherence to anti-retroviral medication, as well as measures of t-cells and viral load, visits to emergency rooms, use of addictive/illegal substances, pain and other symptom levels.
  • Pilot program with Spaulding Rehab hospital We recently completed a pilot where we provided massage and/or acupuncture to inpatients recovering from surgery or injury. We went through the pilot funding, which was meant to cover 2 years, in about 9 months, due to demand from referring physicians.  We provided 300 treatments to more than 50 inpatients. Spaulding is now trying to figure out how to bring these services in-house rather than have an outside vendor provide (presumably to save money, as the services were funded by a donor to the hospital).
  • Reducing disparities in care/ Access to care  We provide Community style acupuncture ($25-$45/hour) to increase economic accessibility.  We have Spanish and Portuguese speaking practitioners to improve cultural competence of care.  Our location inside the South End Community Health center, which serves a largely Latino population, allows us to develop “word of mouth” recommendations within the local Latino community.  We participated in the Jill’s List Beta test, providing free care to 13 low income clients referred from Boston Medical Center.


Comment: This is truly a remarkable set of community contributions from a free-standing center focusing on AOM services.


True North celebrates 10th year with “Empower Me” initiative

Maine’s True North health center announced January 31, 2012 that it is marking its 10th year with a patient-focused initiative called “Empower Me.” The ingredients in the not-for-profit Center’s plans include: a means for patients to directly access 3 laboratory tests; a Drug and Supplement Interaction Assessment; and access to the clinic’s supplement store. The release argues to readers that these supplements are of high quality since they are pre-selected by the Center’s staff. 

Comment: While the release is basically a marketing promotion for the Center, I found the inclusion of the testing strategy and interactions reports of particular interest.