Have you ever thought that your health, your good health, might be a condition over which you could have more control? That just seeing a doctor, briefly, when you’re ill, getting a prescription filled, and going home to wait for the medicine to work may not be the best thing you can do for yourself?
Tricia Williams, MD, agrees, and she will join a cadre of like-minded professionals at The Other Health Fair at St. James Episcopal Church in Mansfield, May 19 and 20, to explain why.
“Last year I went as an observer,” she says. “I was excited to see it happening in our community, and I’m honored this year to be a speaker.”
This second (perhaps annual) Other Health Fair bills itself as an event featuring information and activities on alternative and complimentary healing modalities for holistic health and on exploring integrative medicine.
What that means, says Tricia, sipping tea at a cozy coffee shop near her home in Troy, is that we—we being the patients as well as the physicians—need to look at root causes instead of just treating symptoms. We need to treat the whole person, not just the presenting problem.
How do we get everybody on board for that?
“What will drive the change is economics,” Tricia predicts. “Insurance coverage is changing. Patients are interested; conventional medicine is becoming more receptive. There is more research being done that is showing integrative care costs less. The National Institutes of Health has a whole department studying this.”
Tricia’s journey toward integrative medicine started with an undergraduate degree from Cornell, followed by a doctor of medicine degree from the Chicago Medical School/Rosalind Franklin University, and a residency with Northwestern University Affiliated Family Practice at St. Joseph Hospital in Chicago in 2001. From 2002 until 2010 she was on the medical staff at Troy Community Hospital and served as a family physician in Troy and Canton with the Arnot Medical Services. She went back to Cornell in 2013 to earn a certificate in plant-based nutrition and in February of last year completed an Integrative Medicine Fellowship with Dr. Andrew Weil (yes, of Oprah fame), practitioner and teacher of integrative medicine, through the University of Arizona College of Medicine in Tucson. She is now board certified with the American Board of Integrative Medicine.
Integrative medicine is healing-oriented, Tricia explains. It is “an emerging field,” one that combines conventional medicine and alternative therapies, while recognizing that good medicine should be based in good science. It has, she says, “been my approach forever.”
“It was a really exciting program,” she says of her studies at the Arizona school, “just for the opportunity to meet so many people from around the world who are interested in merging these disciplines with the goal of helping and healing people. There are health care providers from so many specialties interested in providing holistic care.”
There is, for example a tremendous amount of research on the benefits of massage, she relates. Medicare now covers acupuncture for certain conditions. More and more people—Tricia included—are experiencing the benefits of meditation. When it comes to mental health, she believes “a more holistic and psycho-social approach,” as opposed to one based on pharmaceuticals, can be so much more beneficial for patients.
“Having health care providers educated in both conventional and alternative modalities enables them to treat patients accordingly,” says Tricia. “We’re trying to start with what is most natural. e focus is on the whole, entire person and you can’t do that in ten minutes. In the conventional medical system we’re encouraged and forced to have short interactions. An integrative approach involves developing healing patient-provider relationships.”
Short interactions will not be the order of the day during The Other Health Fair. Dr. Gregory Pais, ND, DHANP, will present the Three Pillars of Health workshop from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, May 19. There will be a panel discussion Friday evening about naturopathic medicine (which is Dr. Pais’s specialty), integrative medicine, acupuncture and Chinese medicine, and chiropractic practice. Dr. Williams is the keynote speaker Saturday morning. Throughout both days there will be workshops on Ayurveda, Reiki, Tai Chi, yoga, Tibetan singing bowls, poetry, imagery and visualization, and much more.
The Other Health Fair is free; there is a $25 fee for the Friday evening banquet and a $10 fee for lunches. Reservations for meals are required. Call (570) 662-6610 or email [email protected] to register for those.