One-Third of Hospitals Provide Alternative-Medicine Option

Posted by Admin on December 4, 2008
In 2005, a study found that one in five hospitals provided their patients with the option of alternative medicine, but by 2007 that number had risen to one in three. "The largest hospitals in the U.S. are doing it," said Laurel Anderson, former director of health policy at the Minnesota Hospital Association, now with the Center for the Evolution of Health Care, an organization that promotes the availability of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in hospitals. "Minnesota is a leader in this area. The Minnesota Holistic Nursing Association has the most active association in the country."

Anderson, a former health policy analyst for 12 years, said she stumbled upon how important CAM can be to hospitals when she was tasked with discovering why 17 percent of nurses quit the health care field by age 35. She examined hospitals in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area for best practices and found one hospital that was successful in keeping a higher percentage of its staff - Woodwins Hospital in Woodbury, Minn.

She found that the hospital was unique in that it had been zealous in offering CAM to its patients as a complement to standard medical care. Typical examples of CAM care would be providing an herbal treatment along with a pharmaceutical drug, such as St. John's wort with a prescription antidepressant, or offering acupuncture as a replacement for pharmaceutical painkillers.

Other common forms of CAM are massage therapy, music and art therapy, therapeutic touch, guided imagery, relaxation training, acupuncture, tai chi and yoga. Anderson said Woodwins tapped into a surging openness to CAM by both patients and clinicians, and harnessed it to everyone's benefit. She told of a man who, because his brother was healed through acupuncture, dropped his 30-year pharmacy profession and became an acupuncturist.

"The Chinese and Japanese have had over 2,000 years of evidence that their forms of medicine are true," she said. She also referred to Sister Ruth Stanely, a Benedictine nun and one-time pharmacist, who has discovered a healing property in the sound of Gregorian chants' vowel range. "They send her the worst patients, and she is getting amazing results," said Anderson.

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