As often happens in medicine, scientific evidence evolves; the continual flux of new patients with symptoms suggestive of Lyme disease is growing and new research has proven that Lyme disease is more complex and prevalent than we thought. The time has come to move beyond the divisiveness of the past, listen to the suffering of our patients and their families and move forward with all sides of the discussion into an evidenced-based paradigm for research, education, and patient care. The question is no longer whether Lyme is a complicated disease, or whether the current testing is adequate or whether the Lyme bacteria can survive a single antibiotic challenge in order to become a persistent infection. High quality studies show not only that it happens, but they also show how it happens, and why we should not be surprised that it happens. Our objective now is to determine which patients suffer from acute and or persistent LD, and to keep pressing for evidence-based wisdom to guide physicians and allied health care providers called upon to treat them.
Archive for the ‘Healthcare Reform’ Category
The title of the story in this Sunday’s NY Times magazine, The Boy With a Thorn in his Joints, suggests that the patient story is an anomaly-an atypical medical case. I want to report that this is far from the reality of the clinical experience in my office. The patient complaint, the history, the far reaching impact of unnecessary pharmaceutical treatments on patients and their families, all are commonly heard in the private chambers of my office. From ages 3-85, leaky gut syndrome is not a peculiar and mysterious thorn from which patients and their families must endure the kind of suffering as described in the story. The results of specific dietary therapies in the care of my patients with the same problems are dramatic.
Medicine Needs to Change
It is unnerving to me how far astray the medical community has gone- that something as foundational to health as the physiology of our digestion would be second to the influence of the pharmaceutical and device industry. Medicine needs to change; the whole person approach is integral to comprehensive medical treatment. The re-education needs to begin in medical school, continue in residency and post graduate courses.
Obstacles are in the Billions
Currently, the obstacles for the needed changes in medicine are in the billions and billions of dollars in pharmaceutical profits that look to keep our nation one that is dependent on drugs. There is no corporate profit in a nation that relies on wholesome nutrition and preventative medicine as its primary guide.The needed changes in medicine do not even gain momentum from the fact that a healthier non-drug dependent nation has fewer healthcare expenses.
When will the voices of sick patients like the boy in this NY TIMES story and the suffering of their families be heard? What will it take?
Update: 10/19/12: Escape Fire played to a sell-out crowd! You can see our pictures from the evening on our Facebook page (even if you’re not on Facebook, you can still view them)
The Stram Center will host the first local showing of award-winning healthcare film,Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare
This multiple award-winning, riveting film on the nature of America’s broken healthcare system will be presented by the Stram Center, Thursday, Oct 18th at Spectrum 8 Theatre in Albany, NY.
This film tackles one of the most pressing issues of our time: how can we save the badly broken healthcare system? American healthcare costs are rising, yet our health outcomes are worse. A Sundance Film Official Selection for 2012 and a four time film-festival winner, Escape Fire is a must see!
Join the Stram Center staff in the presentation of this deeply powerful and extremely relevant film.
What: Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare
Where: Spectrum 8 Theatre – 290 Delaware Ave, Albany, NY 12209
When: Thursday, October 18th 6:30pm
- On sale NOW ONLY at the Stram Center for Integrative Medicine
- Call or stop by! 518-689-2244
- Hurry in, tickets are limited and going fast!
- Remaining tickets will be available on the day of the show at the Spectrum 8 box office, beginning at noon!
- Adults: $9.25 / Seniors & Students $7.50
Q & A session hosted by Dr. Ronald Stram and the following guests to follow film.
1. Dr. Ronald Stram:
- Founded the Stram Center 10 years ago (2002)
- Founded Stram Center directly after completing the integrative medicine fellowship seen in the Escape Fire film with world renowned Dr. Andrew Weil
- Has been practicing medicine for over 25 years
2. Christopher Reilly
- LAc – Licensed Acpuncturist
- Has been with the Stram Center since the opening of it’s doors back in 2002
3. Richard Kirsch
- Author of Fighting for Our Health: The Epic Battle to Make healthcare a Right in the United States (Published in Feb 2012)
- Currently working as a strategic consultant to organizations and foundations all over the area
- Serves as an advisor to various committees and boards
- He is a true advocate for policy change
4. Professor John Huppertz, PhD
- PhD graduate of Syracuse University
- Currently chair of the Union Graduate College MBA in Healthcare Program – held position since 2004
- Also a marketing professor at the grad school
5. Dr. Joel Bartfield
- Associate Dean for Graduate Medical Education at Albany Medical College
- Involved in graduate and undergraduate medical eduction for over 25 years
- Also practices emergency medicine at Albany Med
6. Sarada Bernstein
- Corporate Dietician – ShopRite
- Runs the registered dietitian program at all Shop Rites
- 3.5/4 Stars Roger Ebert Chicago Sun Times
- An interview with Documentary Channel and the film’s directors, Matthew Heineman and Susan Froemke.
What’s going on here?
On Monday, I attended a forum hosted by Honorary Chairman Congressman Chris Gibson and the LymeNext Organizing Committee at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs. I was struck by the association one of the speakers made between the current treatment denial by insurance companies for LYME Disease and the government sponsored Tuskegee research performed from 1932 to the 1970′s which looked at the long term effects of syphilis in the black population.
Essentially, after penicillin was discovered as a cure, researchers continued to deny such treatment to many study participants. Many patients were lied to and given placebo treatments so researchers could observe the full, long term progression of the fatal disease. The current denial by insurance companies, for the long term treatment of chronic Lyme sufferers, rang parallel to the Tuskegee experiments in which effective treatment was withheld.
What’s going on here? Why is the treatment of Lyme Disease blocked and so politicized? And what about the extreme out of pocket costs for those who seek treatment because of insurance company denial? Do we need to go as far as a congressional committee to get suffers of chronic Lyme the treatment that will alleviate their suffering? That is how the Tuskegee experiments were finally resolved which resulted in the enactment of the National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research and the National Research Act.
It wasn’t until May 16, 1997, when President Bill Clinton formally apologized and held a ceremony for the Tuskegee study participants.
We need to learn from the injustices of the past and get the Lyme Disease reform needed for treatment for chronic lyme mainstream. We want action not an apology.
By: Kylie K. Boos, RN
We all know the feeling; you get a great idea and you just go with it. You go full out, head first, with an enthusiastic, “I can do this” attitude and then the realization of reality kicks in and you get the wind knocked out of you. In all of your glory you forget that you actually have to do something in order for the great idea to happen. This, my friends, is what goes through our minds when we think about initiating a lifestyle change. Whether it be challenging you to go to the gym or vowing to eat organic, we all have this great intention but don’t always follow through. With the New Year just around the corner I figured this would be a great time to nudge you to stick with it with a little advice.
The most challenging hurdle that we must all overcome in order to succeed at anything is ourselves! We are our worst enemy and the only way to get past our reservations is to push the mental challenge in a positive yet selfish direction. You might think, positive yet selfish? You’ve
got to be kidding me. No I am not. This is the hard reality here. You want to think positively as in “I can do this” but you also need to be thinking, “I can do this because this is what I want.” When setting a goal you have to keep in mind that this is your goal. Not anyone else’s. No one is going to wake you up at 5am to get you motivated to hit the gym. You have to rely on yourself and be strong.
Staying strong especially through the holidays is really tough to do. Pre-holiday festivities, holiday work parties, after-the-holiday parties and plenty of other reasons to overeat and forgo the gym are upon us. This is the time where our will power is tested and where we can really show ourselves that we have what it takes in order to succeed. The best thing to do is to stick to as normal of a routine as possible. If you go to the gym after work on a regular basis, continue to do so. If you have an obligation to attend then work out before you go to work. Make small changes in your routine, do not alter altogether because this will disrupt your normal pattern and can ultimately lead to you accidentally “giving up” on your goals.
Forget the past and move on. Slipped up and ate too much or skipped a couple of workouts? Don’t panic. You cannot waste time or energy thinking of ways you could have “been better”, what’s done is done. The only thing you can do is get back on the horse. After a binge at a holiday party or a couple of unexcused absences from the gym, the best thing to do is to acknowledge the mishap and get back into your normal routine. Congratulate yourself for feeling guilty and know that this is a good sign, it means you care. It’s not too late to being again with extra enthusiasm and some insight as to what can happen if you get off track.
Now is the time for you to start a change! The holidays and the New Year is a good excuse for initiating a lifestyle change but honestly, any day is a good day to start. It does not have to be a New Year’s resolution or anything pertaining to anybody else. This has everything to do with you and what it will take to get you motivated enough to think about making a change and then actually implementing it. The idea of making a change is exciting and thrills even the best of us but it is those who actually stick to their idea who are really rare. My only question is, are you strong enough to be one them?
How Do I Find a Good Practitioner?
I’m often asked by people who are moving, or who live too far away from the Center for regular visits, “what should I look for in an acupuncturist?” My answer is usually along the lines of: you look for the same things that you would in a good mechanic, personal trainer, doctor and almost anything else. A good practitioner is communicative, responsible and effective. Sure, you have to make sure that they’re licensed, and hopefully they have some experience with the health conditions that you are dealing with, but that is the bare minimum.
It Is About the Relationship
I’ll always remember what our founder Dr. Ron Stram told me when I was a new practitioner many years ago. “People expect us to be good at our job. That’s just the baseline. It’s about the relationship.” And what makes a good relationship? Open and clear communication working in two directions, attentiveness to someone’s needs and the taking of steps to show that you are actively engaged in meeting those needs. A good practitioner is responsive, actively listens to you and makes clear effort to help you achieve your goals. Like any other relationship, it has to be a good match as well- find the provider that you “click” with.
Best of Both Worlds
Numerous times in my life I have heard people saying that if they had to make a choice, they would pick a doctor who was exceedingly skilled over one who was kind and pleasant to work with. Especially in the field of Integrative Health, where practitioners must understand and address the entire person- there is no such distinction. The care giver who is exceedingly skilled is the care giver that is attentive, comfortable to work with and reliable. To understand a client well, an acupuncturist has to be more than just technically skilled. They have to be actively interested in their client, who they are, what they are going through, and how, whether by well-placed needle, by herb or by compassionate gesture they can be supported and cared for.
Yes, But is it Covered by my Insurance?
Means, motive and opportunity. The great majority of healthcare providers want to give the attentive and compassionate care that we all try to embody. Clients want attentive and reliable care, and providers want to have the relationship and time spent with clients that help ensure the best and most appropriate care. So why so much discontent, and why so many stories of sloppy care because an health concern wasn’t given it’s due time and consideration?
We find ourselves in this position because you are no longer the consumer for your own healthcare! Your insurance company is the healthcare consumer. The consumer demands to the healthcare industry are less time and less care (i.e. less money paid out). Since no business survives without listening to its customers, healthcare providers must bend to the demands of their consumers- the insurance companies- in order to survive.
My practice exists outside of this system. There is no mediator between myself, and my client. The only demands, needs, wants and hopes I listen to are those of my client, and that allows me to be the responsive and active practitioner that I strive to be. I bring this up just to suggest the fact that maybe “is it covered by my insurance” isn’t the first question to ask when seeking out the right practitioner for you. Just food for thought.
By: Christopher Reilly, L.Ac
I was interviewed today by a student at SUNY Albany who was doing a paper on natural healing. At the end of a series of very well thought out questions, she asked me if there was anything else that I would like people to know about acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine. I had to pause for a moment to consider the question before beginning to answer.
The common perception of acupuncture is steeped and clouded in mysticism and associations with the culture of China and the East. I’ve often thought about the general opinion that seems to portray acupuncture as a mysterious and magical art performed by wizened Chinese practitioners in the back of old herbal shops in China town. It has become obvious to me over the years that one of the most consistent barriers to accepting acupuncture in the West is this concept of acupuncture as a metaphysical art tied to mysticism of the East, and impenetrable to the understanding of the modern mind.
Acupuncture most likely began in China, and we owe a debt of gratitude to it’s rich history. The first manned flight was achieved in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. And while we applaud the efforts of the Wright brothers, it is obviously a silly notion to think that the pilots and engineers of the rest of the world who aren’t embedded in American culture are unable to understand the dynamics of flight. The laws that govern flight are the same for everyone. In the same way, the laws that govern acupuncture are universal to the human being. Acupuncture is a science that requires training in a very special way of interacting with the human body to facilitate health and healing. It is a human science. And while we look to China to study the history of acupuncture, it is to the West that we must fix our gaze to see it’s further evolution.
The best research in the world on Acupuncture is now being down in countries like the U.S. and Germany. This research is helping to peel away the shroud of mystery that has separated acupuncture from the modern medical community, and kept it from being accepted as a true science by the average citizen. Acupuncture isn’t a system of magic, belief or a supernatural feat. It is a science that works with the natural systems of the human body in a way that other forms of medicine have not yet been able to. It’s value is in it’s use for the treatment all mankind, and its future will be found in its integration with the broader medical community. In this spirit, I hope that we can increase the acceptance and growth of acupuncture in the West not as an elitist or secretive mystical art, but a science of interacting with the human body in the service of all people, regardless of culture or background.
By: Rebecca Rice, L.Ac
Is it possible to have acupuncture covered by insurance?Yes! In light of the plethora of news about the reformation of health care, where does Chinese medicine stand? Many practitioners in the field of holistic and complementary medicine are trying to encourage lawmakers to include services such as acupuncture into the new health care plan. The national governing bodies for Oriental Medicine, the NCCAOM and the AAAOM are backing this measure. To support acupuncture coverage please visit: http://www.aaaomonline.org/
For information on President Obama’s statement on preventative health care visit:
by: Chris Reilly, L.Ac
According to a recent article in Acupuncture Today (http://www.acupuncturetoday.com/mpacms/at/article.php?id=32014), the programs that the U.S. Army, Navy and Marines are developing to more effectively support soldiers diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) will now emphasize an integrative approach. To the standard treatments of drug therapy, psychotherapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy, these programs will add tai chi, reiki, yoga, acupuncture and medical massage.
This news comes in addition to news from 2008 when the Air Force began a pilot program to train a number of physicians to apply acupuncture for soldiers still in the field (http://www.acupuncturetoday.com/mpacms/at/article.php?id=31882). This “battlefield acupuncture” was and is being developed as a way to relieve musculoskeletal pain and some other health problems that can adversely effect a soldier’s ability to function at full potential.
Acupuncture’s reputation continues to grow by the year, and with innovations like those listed above, I’m sure that exciting new insights for the use of acupuncture, and the combination of integrative therapies with more conventional treatments will come to light!
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