Karen Garloch

Carolinas Medical Center hosts alternative health lectures

In Charlotte, incorporating alternative medicine into traditional health care settings has sometimes been a struggle.

Twenty years ago, in 1994, Presbyterian Healthcare, now part of Novant Health, opened a Center for Mind-Body Health led by psychologist Joe Parisi. That center expanded into the Center for Integrative Medicine in 1998 before closing in 2001. That same year, Carolinas HealthCare System opened Carolinas Integrative Health, led by Dr. Russell Greenfield. But he resigned in 2006, and the center closed a year later.

As business models, those ventures didn’t succeed. But the public’s interest in alternative therapies, such as acupuncture and aromatherapy, has never died down.

Carolinas HealthCare is trying again with a department of Integrative Health, established in June. It is led by a council of doctors, administrators and integrative practitioners at various sites across the system. That will help standardize best practices and save money through bulk purchasing of items such as essential oils, said David Carl, chaplain for Carolinas HealthCare.

“We’ve decided that integrative health is not a place. It is everywhere,” Carl said. “There have been different pockets where people have been practicing integrative health for quite some time.”

Some examples:

• Carolinas Medical Center-Mercy focuses on “personalized patient-centered care” that includes massage, music therapy and aromatherapy. It offers pre-surgery classes for patients to learn a mind-body relaxation technique that helps relieve anxiety, reduce chronic pain and improve recovery.

• Behavioral health patients at CMC-Randolph use aromatherapy, via cotton balls infused with essential oils, to “become more calm and centered,” Carl said. At CMC-University, a doctor has invented a nose clip to serve as the delivery vehicle of aromatherapy for patients during surgery.

• The Carolinas College of Health Sciences offers classes for health care providers who want to learn the practice of healing touch. Cabarrus College of Health Sciences offers a 16-hour course for providers who want to learn more about integrative health.

The public can hear more about integrative therapies during the 25th annual lecture series sponsored by Carl’s chaplaincy office. All lectures are from noon to 1 p.m. at Suzanne Hill Freeman Auditorium in Carolinas Medical Center.

Nov. 20: Mind, Body and Spirit, by physical therapist Donna Lampke, CMC.

Dec. 18: Aromatherapy, by nurse manager Trina Love, CMC-Randolph.

Jan. 15: Therapeutic Art, by chaplain Terry Moore-Painter, Cone Health Cancer Center.

Feb. 19: Healing Touch, by registered nurse Greg Wright, CMC-University.

March 19: Therapeutic Music, by social worker Kathleen Blackwell-Plank, Hospice & Palliative Care of Cabarrus County.

April 16: Self-Compassion Practices, by spiritual care manager Elizabeth Morse, Carolinas Rehabilitation.

May 21: Healing Spaces, by medical media specialist Katie Williams, Charlotte Area Health Education Center.