Monday Medical: More health care choices
May 3, 2010
Today, Yampa Valley Medical Center joins a national health care movement.
Hospitals have long been associated with only conventional medicine, in contrast to "alternative" medicine that emerged outside of traditional medical settings. However, health care recently has seen a shift toward a combined approach called "integrated medicine."
Opening its doors today, Yampa Valley Integrated Health brings this comprehensive method to YVMC.
Angela Silvernail Melzer, director of this new department, looks forward to reaching out to people who do not realize that treatments do not have to be either conventional or alternative. She wants to help people realize that they have choices.
"We want to give equal weight to traditional medicine and complementary and alternative medicine," Melzer said. "I'm looking at addressing a population that would not normally walk in to an alternative health clinic, or those who do who also need standard medical care."
During the past two decades, more and more people have sought complementary and alternative methods and practices outside the medical setting. This trend has popularized the idea of treating the person and not just the ailment.
This concept of treating the "whole person," also called a holistic approach, addresses the medical condition while considering the strengths of the individual. Integrated health takes this one step further by creating more treatment options by considering conventional and alternative methods.
"It is important to note that we are not the only clinic in town using the holistic approach to health care," Melzer said. "We also don't want to duplicate services that are already offered in the community. I'd like to see that we fill in the gaps."
Melzer and members of YVIH's team visited several hospitals across Colorado that have integrated health programs. From their observation, the hospitals formulated a program that they think is long overdue in the Yampa Valley.
YVIH will serve outpatients with a wide range of backgrounds, needs and diagnoses. Anything from common issues such as allergies and back pain to other, more serious illnesses can be treated through integrated medicine. Even pregnant or surgical patients may choose to pursue this approach.
Melzer sees her clients as people who typically do not use alternative methods and want to try it out in a medical environment. All of the providers within YVMC's integrated health have a medical background, with a combined 50-plus years of experience in medical settings.
She also speculates that individuals who have used alternative practices but would like to seek a more comprehensive approach also may want to seek YVIH's services.
Services available at Yampa Valley Integrated Health include acupuncture/herbal therapy, case management, counseling/support groups, massage therapy and nutritional support/consultation. Melzer said she hopes to offer more services in the future.
Clients can seek any service or, if they do not know what they need, they can be given an intake assessment. Melzer will evaluate the individual's health from a spectrum of conditions: medical, nutritional, physical, psychological, social and spiritual. From this assessment, she will develop a plan of care, which may include one or more of the services offered.
Additionally, Melzer may refer the patient to a local physician or clinic that specializes in other treatments.
Melzer added that she hopes to foster relationships with local providers, conventional and alternative, so that together they can better serve the community.
"We are joining an accomplished community of providers and bring something new into the mix," Melzer said. "Our goals are to better serve clients, help them find the services they need and make sure they do not fall through the cracks."
"We want to develop strong relationships with physicians so the communication is open and they know what is going on," Melzer added. "If the physicians work with us, it will help the patient become more in touch with the connection between body and mind."
Melzer is eagerly waiting for the phone to ring and welcomes questions from potential clients, as well as from alternative and traditional health care providers. She can be reached at Yampa Valley Integrated Health's number at 970-875-2731.