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 Mount Sinai Beth Israel through the help of our generous donors.

Urban Zen Initiative at Mount Sinai Beth Israel:

In 2008, The 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 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.

For more information on this project please visit the Urban Zen website at

The Charles Evans Integrative Stress Management Program:

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 traveled 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:

  • Stress reduction/relaxation techniques
  • Guided imagery/meditation
  • Essential oil therapy/aromatherapy
  • Restorative Yoga
  • Reiki

The program helped create a more positive work environment and demonstrated the importance of employee well-being. Staff members were also encouraged to teach their patients these techniques.

A retrospective study is currently being conducted on the impact of this three year grant funded program.

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- Mount Sinai Beth Israel.

Plaque at the Beatrice Renfield 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 Mount Sinai Beth Israel.