Worlds Collide at Harvard Vanguard
is a 47-year-old furniture conservator in South Boston who for 15 years
has experienced chronic aching in his legs, a condition he attributed
to fatigue and the hazards of his occupation. Seeking relief from his
pain, Stenstrom visited numerous doctors without success. They agreed
that the woodworker had no circulatory problems that could be causing
his problems, and there were no other symptoms that pointed to a specific
course of treatment. Finally on a visit to his healthcare provider,
Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates, Stenstrom talked to his primary
physician about alternative therapies. He left with not only a referral
to an acupuncturist, but to one working side-by-side with the doctors
at Harvard Vanguard.
medicine program here really opened its doors in October 1997, but the
beginning of the program, conceptually, started long before that. For
really quite a few years, I was hearing from patients that came to get
care with our doctors and other clinicians that they were using alternative
medicine for various aspects of their care. It became apparent to us
that maybe it would be a good thing for us to see if we couldn't make
that available to our own patients within our walls, under our roof,
and that's how the program was born," says Judith Frampton, an
administrator for Harvard Vanguard.
"One of the
things that we were really compelled to figure out how to do was ensure
that patients who got that care were getting it from quality providers,
in a place where they could feel comfortable, where they could trust
the providers that they were seeing, in which the alternative medicine
providers that they were seeing had a way of talking to their doctors.
And that's the beauty of the program that we designed, and it works
is the medical director in the Cambridge offices of Harvard Vanguard.
"The medical leadership of Harvard Vanguard made it very clear
that we needed to do this in a certain way, we had to follow certain
procedures. And procedures of quality assurance and credentialling and
chart review and peer review and performance evaluations of the providers
are the same kinds of things we would have them develop in any medical
program. We've applied those to developing an alternative medicine program."
very excited about it; everyone who is involved in our program is, and
so are our patients. When you see the way it's worked here, it's really
been to the benefit of patients. People have been talking together about
their care, and having conversations about their getting better, that
weren't taking place before," Weisblatt said.
would not disagree. "I'm feeling very comfortable with these [acupuncture]
treatments, but I would certainly feel much more comfortable if it were
covered by insurance." For the most part, HMOs and other insurance
plans still don't cover alternative therapies. Harvard Vanguard is no
exception, but its alternative practitioners are able to lessen the
bite on a patient's out-of-pocket expenses by offering a 20 percent
thinks it's inevitable that some sort of insurance coverage for alternative
therapies will be available. "It's not because it's faddish and
insurance companies are going to be forced to cover fads. It's because
we will prove that patients will get better and benefit from this treatment,
and consequently insurance companies will see it in their interests
to have some form of coverage. Alternative medicine is not going away.
It's real, and it's needed, and it's part of what our patients benefit
Dr. Stephen Sinatra
Reiki:The Ancient Art
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