Center Director, Dr. Woodson Merrel, explains, “We’re actually incorporating all of the modalities that promote healing, health, and wellness. Not just treating a symptom, but making sure a patient is whole and well. And giving them the tools to empower themselves, not just being passive recipients of the therapy. And the Continuum Center for Health and Healing at Beth Israel has been doing this for 10 years.”
Internationally acclaimed fashion designer Donna Karan’s Urban Zen Initiative has been an avid promoter of integrative, patient-centered medicine. Contributions from Urban Zen and strong leadership from Dr. Woodson Merrell has transformed the medical oncology unit at Beth Israel into an “Optimal Healing Environment”.
To help illustrate what Urban Zen is about, Donna Karan, explains, “The question is, who treats the patient and not the disease. You know, doctors and nurses are very scheduled about treating disease. But [it’s about rethinking] the whole overall attitude of ‘how do we treat the patient’ and patient care. The nurses need help, the doctors need help, the patients need help, and the loved ones need help. And that’s how I started the Urban Zen integrative therapies program.”
The oncology department at Beth Israel has undergone feng-shui-style renovations, the addition of yoga therapy, holistic nursing training, and a patient navigator who guides the patient and their family through the complex process of cancer care.
Director Merrel adds, “What we say is one day the success of the movement will be signified by dropping the adjective. It’s no longer integrative, alternative, complementary, or conventional; it’s just good medicine. Using whatever works; whether it’s some indigenous practice with herbs that have been around 2,000 years, acupuncture, bio medicine or genomics. The point is to use the best of whatever we have available to us; the gentlest, most safe and effective remedy for any given condition.”