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Roy Elam, M.D., medical director of the new Vanderbilt Center for Integrative Health, speaks at the centerís inauguration. Photo by Susan Urmy

Center for Integrative Health debuts


Duke University’s Ralph Snyderman, M.D., talks with Robert Early at the center’s opening event.
Photo by Susan Urmy

12/01/2006 - Duke University’s Ralph Snyderman, M.D., talks with Robert Early at the center’s opening event. Photo by Susan Urmy

The Vanderbilt Center for Integrative Health, which seeks to combine traditional Western medicine with complementary therapies, was inaugurated with a series of speeches, tours and well wishes on Tuesday, Nov. 21.

“You are about to witness a new era of medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center,” said Harry Jacobson, M.D., vice chancellor for Health Affairs, in his introductory remarks.

The center, located in the 3401 West End Building, will offer massage therapy, physical therapy, acupuncture, health coaching, nutrition counseling, as well as integrative health consultations with a physician and a health psychologist and classes in mindfulness/stress reduction, yoga, tai chi and qigong.

Roy Elam, M.D., associate professor of Medicine, is medical director.

“There is a yearning for the practice not only of medicine but of healing,” said Ralph Snyderman, M.D., Chancellor Emeritus of Duke University and a national leader in bringing together traditional and alternative medicine.

“When Vanderbilt makes a statement creating a Center for Integrative Health, it's a big statement,” Snyderman said. “Three to five years down the road we will look back and say that good things came from this.”

The theme of intersection was picked up on by John and Stephanie Ingram, who were integral in funding and establishing the new center. Stephanie Ingram spoke with great emotion about a close friend with cancer and the role that complementary therapies can play in treatment, while John Ingram used the analogy of the center as a crossroads.

“This place is the intersection of traditional and nontraditional. This place is that exchange where those paths can cross and find better health and happiness,” he said.

The center itself is in attractive suite of offices, therapy rooms, and a large classroom with windows down one side. Low-key lighting, attractive colors and a water sculpture help visitors begin to enter a healing mood from the time they walk in the door.

In addition to treatment, the center also has a research element. Jeffrey Andrews, M.D., associate professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and a senior fellow in the office of Evidence Based Medicine, is based part-time at the new center to study the efficacy of complementary therapies.

In his remarks, Jacobson noted the changes in medical education brought about by an openness to complementary therapies.

“Not only do we need to provide the widest range of effective diagnostic, therapeutic and palliative care for our patients, but we need to incorporate that integrative practice mindset into the training we offer medical students, residents and nurses,” he said.

The center expects to receive referrals for patients who have diagnoses, such as cancer and diabetes, to which complementary therapy has proven effective. Many services, such as massage or the various classes, are available on a self-referral basis.

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