Wellness center will use integrative medicine to target mind, body and spirit in treatment of chronic disease

By Kristy Bleizeffer May 21, 2015

Several years ago, Dr. Mark Mc Ginley presented a lecture about integrative medicine at Wyoming Medical Center’s Frontiers in Wyoming Medicine conference in Jackson Hole. He’d developed an interest when he noticed patients returning to the ICU again and again. Doctors were good at treating the symptoms of chronic disease, not so good at making patients eliminate their diseases or preventing them in the first place.

‘I think we are seeing too much emphasis on the quick fixes in medicine,’ Dr. Mc Ginley says. ‘(Drug companies) convince you that if you have a disease, it is just a matter of finding the right pill to get rid of it … Unfortunately, it’s never that simple.’

‘I think we are seeing too much emphasis on the quick fixes in medicine,’ Dr. Mc Ginley says. ‘(Drug companies) convince you that if you have a disease, it is just a matter of finding the right pill to get rid of it … Unfortunately, it’s never that simple.’

In the audience was Vickie Diamond, president and CEO of Wyoming Medical Center. She approached Mc Ginley after his lecture about bringing integrative medicine to the hospital.

“I think this is very important. The future of health care requires we start doing this to prevent readmissions and make people more self-empowered,” Diamond said.

Today, Mc Ginley’s ideas are coming to fruition. We have set aside 7,000 square-feet of shell space off the McMurry West Tower’s Sky Lobby to develop a new wellness center, likely the first of its kind in Wyoming. It will use integrative medicine to treat and prevent chronic disease.

Integrative medicine – also called complementary or alternative medicine – combines the best aspects of Western and Eastern medicine, said Mc Ginley, who recently finished a two-year fellowship at the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine. 

“Western medicine is excellent in that we now have a detailed understanding of how specific organs work, but we tend to isolate the mind from the body. We tend to look at a part of the patient. The integrative approach is to look at the whole patient, to look at the body and mind, to look at their spiritual passion or essence, and to look at what motivates them,” Mc Ginley said.

Dr. Mc Ginley discusses the new wellness center and how he believes it will impact the health of our community in the interview below.

Explain your vision for the wellness center. 
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that if we could eliminate just three risk factors – poor diet, smoking and inactivity – we would decrease incidences of heart disease and stroke by 80 percent, decrease the incidence of type-2 diabetes by 80 percent and reduce 40 percent of all cancers.

In one broad sweep, the goal is to improve the health of our own staff and our patients and spill over into the greater community. In the wellness center, we will bring in many of these other modalities that we know can be beneficial: acupuncture, chiropractic, holistic nutrition, education about weight loss, stress reduction.

For inpatients, we will bring treatments proven again and again to be effective: aromatherapy to help with nausea and vomiting, anxiety, stress and sleep; bedside acupuncture to help with pain control. We want to improve how we treat the patients who come through our front doors, but we also want to improve the health of our own staff so we can be better care providers.

The bigger vision is to take the program to the larger community. Once we show that this program is effective – patients are taking less medications; they are feeling better; they’ve met objective measurements in body weight, blood pressure, labs and absenteeism at work – then, we think we have something that others would be interested in. We have big organizations in Casper that pay a lot of money for health care and would like to improve their bottom line. We believe that what we are going to do in the wellness center will have ripple effects throughout the whole community.

These plans show the layout of the 7,000-square-foot wellness center, located off the McMurry West Tower's Sky Lobby.

These plans show the proposed layout of the 7,000-square-foot wellness center, located off the McMurry West Tower's Sky Lobby. Click to enlarge.

What does the curriculum look like?
First, we’d ask: How can we make an impact on the things that are prevalent in the American community at large – poor diet, inactivity, smoking, obesity, diabetes, abnormal lipids and high blood pressure? Nutrition would be a cornerstone of the curriculum. What is an anti-inflammatory diet? Choosing, preparing and eating food in a different way. For stress reduction, teaching people relaxation techniques, breathing techniques and guided imagery. We will have exercise physiologists teaching flexibility, strength and aerobic fitness in a healthy way; getting out in nature and the multiple and unique ways we can embrace exercise. Preventative strategies would be other aspects of the curriculum.

What, in your mind, does success look like?
Patients who have completed the program would come back for a re-evaluation on their one year anniversary and we would then assess with questionnaires, measurements and laboratory tests to see how they are doing.

I think we are seeing too much emphasis on the quick fixes in medicine. You cannot turn on the TV without hearing drug commercials. It is the way of the pharmaceutical industry: They convince you that if you have a disease, it is just a matter of finding the right pill to get rid of it. Unfortunately, it’s never that simple.

Why do you believe this is a project the community should support?
You could say that this is the trend across the country. The latest stats that I was able to see were from about two to three years ago where about 30 percent of hospitals were embracing some form of wellness. The whole new health care disposition from the government suggests that we need to get patients more involved and more responsible for their health.

We have always been pioneers at Wyoming Medical Center, and I think stepping up and getting a wellness center in our community is a huge leadership initiative. The people in our community will have access to the best of our 70-plus specialists at Wyoming Medical Center, but will also have access to a wellness center with integrative doctors and a whole staff of professional people to complement what traditional medicine can offer. I think it will differentiate our community and our organization in a very positive way.

How does a community benefit when its citizens are healthy?
People who are healthy and well are more productive in their relationships and their work. If this gets extrapolated, then you have healthy families, healthy organizations and healthy activities for the community. I think good health is a sort of tide that rises all the boats, and everything starts to get better when people are flourishing and healthy.

Support the wellness center

The 7,000-square-foot wellness center will include workout equipment, classroom space and space for aromatherapy, acupuncture and nutritional consults. The Wyoming Medical Center Foundation has committed to raising $1.2 million for interior construction and equipment. The center, devoted to improving the health of target populations through integrative medicine, meets the Wyoming Medical Center mission of advancing the health and wellness of our community.

To support the center or to learn more, call the foundation at (307) 577-2973 or email ahavens@wyomingmedicalcenter.org.

Dr. Mc Ginley a pulmonologist at Casper Pulmonary. He is the 2014 Wyoming Medical Center Physician of the Year, and is board certified in internal medicine, pulmonary disease, critical care and integrated holistic medicine.
Medical School: University of Cape Town, South Africa
Internship: Franklin Square Medical Center, Baltimore
Residency: Franklin Square Medical Center, Baltimore, Internal Medicine
Fellowship: University of Maryland Medical System, Baltimore, Pulmonology and Critical Care 

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