Though rebuilding efforts are well under way, New Orleans is wracked by a huge burden of stress-related disorders. Short on healthcare facilities and medical staff, the city struggles to get back on its feet. Community-based clinics and holistic healthcare practitioners face marginalization and lack of funding, as practitioners themselves try to heal their own traumas. A front line report from the flooded crescent.
The Humanistic Elective in Activism, alternative medicine, and Reflective Transformation (HEART), an annual month-long, live-in clerkship for 4th year MD and DO students sponsored by the American Medical Students Association, is trying to remedy the unhealthy grind of medical training by providing opportunities for med students to experience truly healthy living.
The recent Institute of Medicine and Harvard reports on seafood safety go a long way in allaying public concern about mercury toxicity in fish and affirming fish as a healthy food. But they largely overlook the precarious state of the world's oceans. Can we have our fish and eat them too? Yes, say marine biologists, but only with major changes in fisheries management and consumer consciousness.
Since 1999, the Alternative Medicine Integration Group (AMI) has offered members of an Illinois HMO the option to choose chiropractors as primary care physicians (PCPs), and outcomes data show strong reductions in hospitalizations, medication use, and overall costs. But divisiveness within the chiropractic profession and limited insurance reimbursement have prevented the chiropractic primary care model from gaining ground.
The joint decision by the American Holistic Medical Association and the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians to "co-locate" their annual conferences this Summer represents a significant and historic first step toward formal organizational collaboration between holistically minded MDs, osteopaths and their naturopathic colleagues.
Chelation therapy to prevent heart attacks has never been accepted by mainstream cardiologists, but it is popular none the less, and increasingly so in the wake of trials questioning the value of drug-eluting stents. The Trial to Assess Chelation Therapy (TACT), a $30 million NIH-sponsored study, will hopefully provide definitive answers on whether chelation has a rightful place in heart disease prevention.
Revolution and reform were major themes at the Institute of Medicine's historic Summit on Integrative Medicine and the Public Health. But it's another "R" word reimbursement that will determine what a reformed, integrated system will really deliver. IOM delegates called for a radical shift toward prevention and "wellness" but no one is sure how that transformation will be financed.
Health policy experts are concerned that health care reform efforts could be stymied by a severe lack of primary care doctors. The problem could be attenuated if those presiding over reform would allow the thousands of licensed or license-eligible naturopaths and other holistic non-MD practitioners help to shape and then participate in a reformed health care system.
Cutting edge early risk detection tests and preventive medicine have become the privilege of the wealthy. Dr. James Ehrlich, a pioneer in cardiovascular risk assessment, hopes to change that with his new Identify Disease in Advance Foundation, which will bring state-of-the-art preventive medicine to people who can least afford it but would most benefit from it.
The US spends 99 cents of its health care dollar on end-stage treatment and hardly a penny on prevention; as a result we're facing an unprecedented burden of chronic disease that claims lives and threatens our economic future. Some of the best minds in medicine are now working to put proactive prevention at the center of American medicine.