Just as many educators promote educating the whole child, many health care providers now consider patients’ physical, mental and spiritual needs as essential to overall health and fitness. Gov. Kitzhaber’s recent deal with the federal government to provide $1.9 billion to Oregon over the next five years as the state implements an integrated health care system for Medicaid recipients has drawn attention to the benefits of such coordinated care.
Jewish Family and Child Service takes a holistic person-centered approach to providing services, believing that better outcomes and a higher quality of life result from integrated care, explains Gaia Artemisia, LCSW, JFCS clinical director. JFCS will work with a client’s primary care physician on numerous areas exploring physical causes of mental problems and vice versa; and promoting healthy lifestyles.
“The governor has really put integrated care, or coordinated care, in the news; it’s a new way of thinking that treats the whole person,” says Artemisia. She said anxiety, depression and trauma can all have physical symptoms and also impact the way people care for themselves.
As Oregon prepares to implement the Coordinated Care Organization process, JFCS is partnering with Central City Concern’s FQHC Old Town Clinic and others to integrate mental health services into the Medical Home model.
“Because JFCS is a multi-service agency, we can provide many services that complement and support mental health treatment, including in-home counseling, emergency food and clothing aid, transportation for seniors with mobility issues and skills training and behavior supports through our Partners for Independence program for adults with developmental disabilities,” says Artemisia. “We are positioned to … lower health care costs and unnecessary emergency room visits.”
The idea of treating the whole person has long been a fundamental principal for naturopaths. The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians website notes: “We each have a unique physical, mental, emotional, genetic, environmental, social, sexual and spiritual makeup. The naturopathic physician knows that all these factors affect our health.”
At Insights to Health in Multnomah Village, clinic founders and naturopathic physicians Gil and Christie Winkelman focus on the whole person, and often the whole family, when treating patients.
“We have a holistic outlook that is proactive instead of reactive,” says Christie Winkelman. For instance, she said sleep plays a major role in health, but most people ignore sleep problems until they become major. “People seldom address minor sleep problems because they don’t realize how refreshing and rejuvenating sleep can be. Disturbed sleep can be a major source of chronic disease.”
Soma Trauma Therapy, a clinic opened by Michael Alter and Beverly Schwartz to deal with the post-traumatic aspects of motor vehicle accidents also considers sleep a major factor in health.
“Psychological trauma may also impede the pace and capacity for physical healing impacting overall physical health. It is well known that sleep and rest promote physical healing after surgery and recovery time with other injuries. Loss of sleep as a direct or secondary effect (anxiety) from an MVA thus slows recovery,” says Alter.
“Few people realize the range of psychological/emotional components connected to an MVA,” adds Alter. “JFCS therapists also deal with the effects of trauma – ranging from the Holocaust to motor vehicle accidents.”
“Counseling for trauma can result in improved well-being, such as sleeping better without nightmares, and living with less stress, fear and anxiety,” says Artemisia. Since trauma frequently involves strong physiological survival responses, such as fight, flight or freeze, Artemisia says it makes sense that many emerging methods to treat trauma involve a somatic, body-centered approach.
Head trauma, whether from a serious accident or a minor fall is another area of focus at Insights to Health. In addition to naturopathy and counseling, the Winkelmans also use neurofeedback in their practice. Brain trauma after a simple fall or serious injury can create insomnia, anxiety, balance issues, trouble focusing and hormonal imbalance; neurofeeback can start to alleviate symptoms in as little as a month by regenerating damaged neurons, says Christie Winkelman.
Whatever issues patients are facing, naturopaths educate people about the healing process, she says.
“We help people make positive, targeted changes,” says Winkelman. “When people have problems, it often seems overwhelming. We take our expertise and help them target the most positive changes that are doable for them.”
Members of Congregation Neveh Shalom, the Winkelmans also bring a Jewish awareness to dealing with their Jewish patients. Winkelman notes, “As Jews our sensibilities are tied to the seasons with particular holidays such as Sukkot and Tu b’Shvat; this can be used to help motivate people to become more engaged with the natural world and planting, gardening and living in accordance with our natural daily rhythms – all activities that can markedly improve our health.”
She added that she feels Jews understand the importance of living in harmony with the rest of the natural world. Insights to Health physicians help patients learn to weave this into their health regime to find changes that make the most impact for them personally.
If people would slow down, unplug from today’s electronic world and occasionally immerse themselves in trees and breathe the fresh air, Christie Winkelman says they would reap rewards for their mind, body and soul.
On June 10, the Jewish Women’s Circle plans to focus on just that with their Spa for the Soul. The 10 am program features massage, smoothies, manicures, oils, yoga and a discussion led by Mimi Wilhelm on the balance of our physical and spiritual wellbeing and the harmony of our body and soul.
Not only is looking after our physical wellbeing important for its own sake, but it’s an important prerequisite to be able to advance spiritually, says Wilhelm, noting the famous 11th-century Jewish physician and philosopher Maimonides wrote: “Maintaining a healthy and sound body is among the ways of God – one cannot understand or have any knowledge of the Creator, if he is ill.”
“When we look after our bodies, we do it with the intent of fulfilling the greater purpose,” says Wilhelm. “Greek culture preached health and wellness for its own sake viewing the body as the primary purpose of life, while in Jewish culture health and wellness is vital because it is the means through which we fulfill our ultimate purpose.”
Zumba instructor Monica Myers (in gray hat) leads a Zumba class at the Mittleman Jewish Community Center, which has three morning and two evening classes each week. “People feel that the music is like a party,” says Myers. “We are dancing the whole time. A treadmill is OK for some people, but burning calories this way is a lot more fun in my opinion.” Created by dancer Alberto Perez in Colombia during the 1990s, Zumba is a dance fitness program that uses 70 percent Latin music, and the remainder beats from around the world. When choosing a fitness program, “It’s important to find something you love,” says Michael Kofford, another Zumba instructor who teaches at a variety of commercial gyms and private clubs. “Zumba is fun. There’s music from all over the world and people dancing around … you can’t help but have fun. It’s exercise disguised as dancing.” Both instructors emphasize anyone can come and follow along. As long as you keep moving and smiling, you’re getting a good workout and you’ll pick up the steps soon enough.
Mikvah Shoshana (shown), with its indoor garden feel, follows the trend for a mikvah to feel more like a fashionable spa than a ritualarium. Luxurious bath and powder rooms, complete with commode, bathtub, shower and vanity have become the standard. Constructed according to Jewish law, a mikvah is a pool of living water and immersion in a mikvah effects an elevation in status; its waters are said to have the power to spiritually transform and produce metamorphosis. Operated by Chabad of Oregon, Mikvah Shoshana receives about 350 annual visits. To schedule a tour or to learn more about this tradition, contact Simi Mishulovin at 503-309-4185 or Simi@ChabadOregon.com.
Insights to Health, a naturopathic clinic in Multnomah Village, offers neurofeedback for head trauma. The process begins by using three scanners with low level-energy (less than that released by cell phones) to measure the level and type of brain waves in 21 areas of the brain.