It all started when…
I have always had a passion for helping people heal. I worked as a nurse in critical care units including respiratory intensive care, coronary care, surgical intensive care, emergency departments and post anesthesia care. In 1993, I attended a conference called “Healing the Healer Within” (presented by Barbara Dossey, Cathy Guzetta and Chris Kessler) which literally changed my life. It opened my eyes to a whole new world of holistic nursing and healing the whole person – body, mind and Spirit. I applied much of this whole person approach to my work as a critical care specialist. We utilized music therapy, touch therapy, massage, and guided imagery with patients for pain control, stress reduction, and to enhance overall well-being. When the hospital in which I was working began its open-heart surgery program in 1995, we were able to include an expressive art therapist on our team. She saw everyone who had a heart attack or open heart surgery over a 3-month period. The results astounded me. Seventy five percent of these patients had significant unresolved grief issues. I realized they literally had a “broken heart” and then experienced a physical manifestation as a blockage in their coronary arteries. I knew then that healing was more than just a physicality.
As my desire to heal the whole person grew, my frustration with the hospital system increased. I found that the system was NOT patient/family centered. One example is the fact that we would awaken patients at 4:30 or 5:00 AM to draw blood or do and X-ray so these results could be available when the physician made rounds at 7:00 AM. This remains common practice today in most healthcare facilities. To whom does this practice really benefit? Certainly, not the patient who needs restful uninterrupted sleep. Additionally, I recognized the value of healthy nutrition and took note of the nutritionally depleted foods we were serving our patients. Even more distressing was the fact that commonly patients were served very inflammatory foods that increase cholesterol and blood sugar within days of having open heart surgery. I knew I had to do something different to fulfill my passion of healing the whole person.
I resigned my critical care Clinical Nurse Specialist position in August, 1996. In September, I listened to a tape series by Dr. Deepak Chopra, a renowned endocrinologist, with expertise in Quantum Physics. He suggested five steps to fulfilling your desires and dreams:
1. Get into a meditative state and connect to God
2. State your intention of what you would like to do
3. Don’t be attached to how it’s going to happen
4. Allow the Universe to handle the details
5. The results are guaranteed.
I said “OK God, I want to change the healthcare system.” I named about 25 things that were just wrong in healthcare in my perception. Ironically many of these same issues (AND EVEN MORE) remain prevalent in our disease-care, profit driven system.
The following January, I received a call from one of my friends who told me about a program coming to Louisville. Nurses from the New York College of Holistic Health Education and Research had started a traveling nurse’s certificate program in Amma therapy and were traveling around the country to teach this work. Amma therapy is a form of Acupressure based on Traditional Chinese Medicine that includes manual therapy and massage techniques using the 12 major meridian channels. It is very holistic in nature and includes healthy nutrition, yoga, and tai chi. I knew this was an answer to my prayers and I completed the 2 year certificate program. Anneke Young, a protégé of Mrs. Tina Sohn, who brought Amma therapy to the United States, was our beloved teacher. In 1997, I started my own practice offering Amma therapy and a holistic nursing assessment. In 2000, I met three other practitioners (Dr. Slava Paskovich, a physician from the Ukraine, Eddie Campomonas, a physical therapist, and Amber Stone, PT assistant who was trained in massage, cranial sacral therapy and strain/counterstrain techniques), who were interested creating an integrative medicine center and together we started the Institute for Integrative Medicine. We worked together for 3 years. Life events ensued and Dr. Paskovich and Eddie Campomonas both relocated to different areas of the country. I continued as the sole owner of Institute for Integrative Medicine.
In June, 2003, while meditating and contemplating on how to continue my vision to change the Healthcare system, I dreamed of writing a book on Transforming Healthcare. I knew I needed a publishing class and I wanted to see a hospital in Hawaii that I had heard about and knew was the epitome of how future hospitals should be designed and managed. Two weeks after I set my intention, I received a brochure in the mail advertising the National Nurses in Business meeting to be held in late July and included a 4-hour publishing segment. Three weeks later, I received a brochure advertising an Integrative Medicine program in Cardiology that was co-sponsored by the American College of Cardiology AND the North Hawaii Community Hospital which was the very hospital that I had said I wanted to visit. I could not believe my eyes at first and it took a couple weeks for this to sink in. I didn’t know how we were going to do it but I told my husband that we had to attend both conferences. Both turned out to be life changing. At the National Nurses in Business conference in Chicago, two myths were dispelled for me. As nurses, we’ve been conditioned to believe that we can only be employees and not employers. I met several nurses that had their own businesses and employed hundreds of people dispelling this myth. The second myth was that nurses could not be rich. I also met several nurses who were making more money in their businesses than their physician husbands.
In October, 2003, my husband and I attended the Integrative Medicine Cardiology Conference cosponsored by the North Hawaii Community Hospital. It was surreal. Only 108 people attended, however, they were the powerhouses in Integrative Medicine. Dr. Dean Ornish, Dr. Andrew Weil, Dr. Robert Superko, Dr. Mimi Guarneri and Dr. David Eisenberg were some of the conference attendees. Since the meeting was in Hawaii, everyone stayed the entire week. We had classes until about noon and then the entire afternoon was free to network with the conference attendees. You can imagine how excited I was to meet and talk with these incredible people. We were also able to tour the North Hawaii Community Hospital which was even more amazing than I could have imagined. On the second day of the conference, I met a very special nurse practitioner, Pam McDonald. We immediately connected and have become life-long friends/colleagues. Pam had just started her own practice, Heart HealthWatchers as part of Penscott Medical. We immediately knew that our passions and visions were similar and both were committed to change cardiovascular care and the overall health of Americans. Pam was just writing her book on the APO E gene diet which was later published in November 2006. My practice expanded under Pam’s direction to become the KY site for doing the APO E gene testing.
During the same year, I moved to an office on Baxter Ave. with Bobbi Brooks, a master herbalist and medical intuitive. Bobbi had worked directly with Hanna Kroeger, a natural healer and nurse who opened one of the first health food stores in the country in Boulder, Co. Bobbi, along with Ginger Bowler, taught many classes on the teachings of Hanna Kroeger. I had the privilege of taking several of these classes and worked with Bobbi for 7 years. I learned a great deal about energy medicine, homeopathy, herbs and natural healing techniques from these two wonderful women.
My passion for holistic nursing and Integrative Medicine continued to expand. I continued to work with Pam McDonald and the APO E gene diet. With her encouragement, I enrolled in the University of Arizona Program for Integrative Medicine, which is the premier education in the country for Integrative Medicine. The Fellowship provided an extraordinary opportunity to study with Dr. Andrew Weil, Dr. Tieraona Low Dog and Dr. Victoria Maizes. I completed the fellowship in December 2006.
Also in 2006, along with several committed nurses, we revived the Ky Holistic Nurses Association. Through KHNA, we have brought many gifted holistic practitioners to our community such as Barbara Dossey, (renowned author, lecturer and educator of Holistic Nursing), Martha Moore Stevens (Teacher of Esoteric Healing), Lynn Chadd (Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner), Dr. Bridget
Dr. Bridget Bongaard (Internal Medicine /Integrative Medicine Physician), Dr. Mary Ann Osborne, and of course, Pam McDonald.
Another profound teacher in my life has been Dr. Wayne Dyer. I have studied his work, listened to his CD’s and read many of his books. I recommended his CD sets to new nurses that came to shadow in our office as well as many of our patients who benefited from his motivational and inspirational messages. Through Divine Intervention, Pam and I were able to meet Dr. Dyer in June 2009. Many miracles followed that encounter. For several years, Pam traveled around the world with Dr. Dyer and presented her ground breaking work on the APO E gene diet to further the message of its role in preventing many chronic illnesses that plague us today.
As we grew and expanded our services, it became very clear that we had outgrown our lovely office at Baxter Ave and on November 1, 2010, we moved to our current office location at 205 Townepark Circle. It took one year to find the ideal space, location and practitioners. We are very excited to be together, help each other be as healthy as possible and forward the science of holistic healing and Integrative Medicine. I am privileged to work with amazing dedicated practitioners.