There are a few new primary care docs in town, and they’re doing things a little bit differently. Rather than relying heavily on prescription medications, they focus on preventative care, lifestyle change, and holistic wellness before turning to traditional medicine. They’ll be at the Tucson Integrative Medicine Clinic, a branch of Andrew Weil’s Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, set to open in May 2014.
The original Integrative Medical Center opened in 1994, and already provides consultative care to patients and trains medical professionals in integrative medicine. But Executive Director Victoria Maizes, M.D., says, “There has long been a desire to have an integrative primary care center.”
Patients who will benefit from the new center range from those who seek help managing stress, losing weight, and changing their diet to those who have already been diagnosed with chronic diseases such as cancer and diabetes. “Everyone can benefit from integrative health,” Maizes says. “It’s really a team approach to care.” Each patient might see a variety of specialists including primary care physicians, nutritionists, manual therapy specialists, and mental health practitioners. They may also recommend patients take part in group visits, lifestyle seminars, tai chi, and yoga classes on site.
Maizes explains that goals of the new center are two-fold. Its first priority is to improve the overall health of the community in order to prevent stroke, diabetes, and heart disease, because these conditions are exceedingly preventable. Even some cancers can be prevented through lifestyle change. Secondly, she says, “Our goal is to do outcomes research to prove to insurance companies that integrative medicine is worth covering.”
The center will take most insurance plans and will work with patients to find an affordable monthly membership plan (starting at $500) that allows them to use the gamut of services. Already, integrative medicine is gaining ground in the mainstream medical world. The Center’s 200-hour training program is offered in 45 residency programs around the country. It may be combined with traditional medicine to achieve the best plan for each patient.
And of course, Maizes does not forget about food. “In integrative medicine, we see humans as physical, mental, and spiritual beings,” she says. “Nutrition is a foundational piece of health. I’ve truly been struck over the years I’ve been practicing by how much it benefits a patient if they are willing to change their eating habits to anti-inflammatory diets.” This includes whole foods, particularly those without pesticides and chemicals. “There is a direct link between the health of the soil and the health of the people,” she says. Visit IntegrativeMedicine.arizona.edu/clinic. ✜