The Department of Integrative Medicine promotes a holistic, patient-centered approach to medical care. Our goal is accomplished by expanding integrative services to both patients and health care providers at Beth Israel Medical Center. To enhance our mission, we are committed to continuing the Urban Zen Initiative that began in 2008 and two grant-funded programs through two donors, the Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation and the Charles Evans Foundation.
In 2008, The Continuum Center for Health and Healing and Beth Israel’s Department of Integrative Medicine received a generous grant from the Urban Zen Foundation, a program launched and sponsored by internationally acclaimed fashion designer Donna Karan. Under the leadership of Dr. Woodson Merrell, Chairman of the Department of Integrative Medicine and Executive Director of the Continuum Center for Health and Healing, the medical oncology unit was transformed into an “Optimal Healing Environment”.
The transformation comprised feng shui-inspired physical renovations, yoga therapy, holistic nurse training, a patient navigator to help guide patients through the often complex process of cancer care, and a research study to determine the clinical- and cost- effectiveness of the program. The Urban Zen pilot study showed an increased quality of stay in the hospital while reducing patient intake of pain and nausea medications, resulting in cost savings for the hospital. The research was an important step in establishing a replicable model for cancer care and has been published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, and The American Journal of Managed Care.
Since the completion of the multi-faceted pilot study, the Department of Integrative Medicine has continued to collaborate with Urban Zen’s Integrative Therapy Training Program and offer yoga throughout the hospital. To date, 50 trainees have served as Integrative Yoga Therapists within the inpatient units to provide bedside care and support through individual and group yoga sessions tailored to meet the needs and abilities of each individual. These sessions focus on movement, restorative postures, meditation practices and breath awareness techniques designed to reduce pain, anxiety, and constipation and to promote an overall sense of healing/well-being.
Thanks to the generous donation in February 2010 from the Shelley and Donald Rubin Foundation, the Department of Integrative Medicine at Beth Israel Medical Center working closely with the Graduate Medical Education (GME) office, began a Wellness Initiative. Based on the expressed needs of our clinical staff, this program focuses on the importance of self-care for medical residents and fellows at Beth Israel.
The program teaches relaxation techniques to our residents and fellows through a series of lectures, demonstrations, and interactive presentations on self-care as well as clinical applications in yoga, relaxation/breathing, centering & grounding, meditation, and acupuncture/acupressure. The program conducted “Learn to Relax” events as an effective way to deliver stress management, wellness and self-care training. Residents and fellows are also encouraged to attend Narrative Medicine sessions, a tool used to improve patient care and increase professional solidarity through reflection on stories of illness and other relevant literature.
Through the generosity of the Charles Evans Foundation, the Department of Integrative Medicine launched an initiative to bring stress reduction and self-care modalities to nurses and other clinical staff at Beth Israel. The program was spearheaded by Aurora Ocampo, MA, RN, CS who has provided over two decades of instruction on mind/body approaches to patients, staff, and the community at BI. The program is now under the supervision of Caroline Ortiz RN, MS-MPH. Caroline and two holistic nurses Jeanne Kenney and Christine Gilchrist travel to nursing units throughout the hospital providing sessions in relaxation, stress management, and training in self-care techniques using a variety of integrative modalities. These include:
The program helps create a more positive work environment and demonstrates the importance of employee well-being. Staff members are also encouraged to teach their patients these techniques.
In honor of the success of the program a plaque was installed at the Beatrice Renfield Center, Department of Nursing Education and Research, Baird Hall, 10th Floor- Beth Israel Medical Center.
From the left: Aurora Ocampo, MA, RN, CS, Woodson Merrell, MD, Chair of the Department of Integrative Medicine, Mrs. Bonnie Evans, Mr. Charles Evans, Jr., Harris Nagler, MD, President of Beth Israel Medical Center.