Alternative practitioners embrace integrated health care model
Integrated care — increasingly the preferred business model for traditional medicine — makes sense for practitioners of complementary healthcare, too, the founder of a Grand Junction healing center said.
Caring for the whole person was an organizing principle for alternative healthcare providers long before traditional medicine recognized its value.
April Schulte-Barclay, doctor of acupuncture and Oriental medicine, took the idea to a new level when she founded Healing Horizons Integrated Health Solutions, 2139 N. 12th St.
Schulte is a licensed acupuncturist who earned a master’s degree from the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine. She also is a former professional ballet dancer.
Similar to integrated medical clinics in Grand Junction, Healing Horizons offers a range of options under one roof, but from a non-traditional viewpoint.
“While we are different in that we are the only complementary health care facility to offer all of our modalities under one roof ... our goal is to work with all practitioners outside of Healing Horizons for the better of the patient’s health. We do work with medical doctors in the area. We work with physical therapists, other psychologists, other chiropractors — we work with as many providers as we can for the good of the patient,” Schulte said.
A healing space
In addition to thousands of hours of academic training in alternative forms of healing, some of the practitioners at Healing Horizons also enjoy an extensive background in the arts, a fact that becomes obvious within seconds of entering the healing space.
Soothing music plays for clients who wait to see practitioners in a comfortable, open room that suggests a wooded glen. The soothing sound of a water feature complements the wood paneling, painted glass and vibrant textiles to create a calming effect.
The mission of Healing Horizons is “to provide quality health care within a collaboratively integrated wellness model,” spokeswoman Nicole Fuller said.
“Integrated care definitely means something different to me than it often does (from the) Western, allopathic standpoint,” Schulte said. “Integrated care to me means that as practitioners of multiple different modalities, we are using different modalities, working together, to benefit the patient. It’s a lot different than simply working under one roof. The idea is that with the patient’s permission, we take their health goals and work toward achieving their goals in a collaborative way.”
A team approach
The center’s alternative health practitioners meet twice a month, more often as needed, to consider a range of treatment options for their clients, Schulte said.
Making behavioral and mental health easily accessible for patients of Western medicine is key to the integrated care business model — so, too, at Healing Horizons.
While Schulte treats patients using acupuncture and Oriental medicine, she also meets regularly with the other practitioners — with her patient’s permission — to discuss a range of alternative healing options for her clients.
The consultations include Paula L. King, who holds a doctorate in psychology and has more than 25 years’ experience in a general psychology practice. In addition to her doctorate from Arizona State University, King is a certified biofeedback analyst and a graduate of the Academy for Guided Imagery.
“I think this is the only complementary care practice on the Western Slope that has a psychologist integrated, truly integrated, into the care,” King said.
Schulte and King guide their patients with a team of other health care professionals using a “unique and affordable wellness program” monitored by a health coach. The health coach works to individualize and integrate a variety of alternative treatments available at the clinic, Fuller said.
Patients pay directly
While King sometimes is paid through health care insurance as a network provider, she is the only practitioner at Healing Horizons who is. Normally, patients pay directly for the care they receive, a practice that helps keep costs low, Schulte said.
“I would prefer not to (be paid through health insurance carriers),” Schulte said. “It costs a lot less for patients to pay out of pocket for their health.”
For example, a three-month course of treatments at Healing Horizons that involves all of the practitioners costs less than what a lab normally charges for a magnetic resonance imaging test, she said.
Patients who pay out of pocket are more likely to be actively involved in managing their own care and may be more invested in following through on treatments, King said.
Peggy Gunn-Sarten, who has been receiving treatment from Schulte for more than four years, said the team approach has helped her heal.
“When I come to see April, she always honors what I say and she honors that I know what I need,” Gunn said. “She listens.”
“It’s been my experience, visiting more than one practitioner here, that they work together and they try to find the best route to treat what I have,” Gunn said. “I’ve been able to speak with April about the root causes of an issue and then she’s been able to lead me to a specialist in that area and they’ve been able to figure it out from there.”
In addition to Schulte and King, Healing Horizons’ clients may consult with a registered dietician and nutritionist, a certified Rolf structural integration practitioner, a licensed esthetician, a classical homeopath and two registered massage therapists. It is a tight-knit group.
“We have found that it’s imperative that all of the practitioners here respect each other professionally and get along professionally. Otherwise, the patients don’t receive the best care that they can,” Schulte said.
“We work closely together,” King said.