In 2001, Mayo Clinic received a transformative jolt of integrative energy at a fortuitous moment. The institution was about to celebrate the opening of the 21-story Gonda Building. What a Minnesota news account called a “transformative project” was funded originally with a $45-million bequest from Southern Californians Leslie and Susan Gonda. Their daughter, Lucy Gonda, then an activist and philanthropist in the emerging integrative medicine field, recognized an opportunity. There would likely be no better time to stretch herself for her most significant integrative grant. She piggy-backed onto the celebration of her parents’ gift to throw in the spotlight a struggling, nearly invisible integrative medicine operation. This article examines what has been built since the injection from the “god-mother of integrative medicine at Mayo.”
“Integrative light.” The term began to be used in the late 1990s by some community-based holistic, integrative, functional, and naturopathic medicine practitioners to discount and dismiss actions in the then emerging field of academic integrative medicine. I was reminded of this knee jerk tendency toward disparagement recently when a past president of the American Holistic Medical Association (AHMA) sent an email query asking for names of any medical schools that “really support integrative medicine and have legit programs.” The question fell within days of receiving an annual report from one such center born in that period 23 years ago, now the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago’s downtown. It struck me that it might be useful to examine the myriad ways that at least one such entity is at work to shift medicine toward a healthier model.
Some like to refer to major change agents in the integrative health field as “rock stars.” To the extent that this applies, a key leader of real world integrative health research, Jeffery Dusek, PhD and the chief cat herder in the universe of professional acupuncturists, David Miller, MD, LAc, belong on album covers. These images come to mind as Francoise Adan, MD, the director of the University Hospitals Connor Integrative Health Network (CIHN) has attracted each to work there. The “Connor” in the name of the system-wide integrative model refers to a philanthropic couple who also happen to be generous donors to the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. I called Adan and her two colleagues to find out more about what their visions are as these front-men join the CIHN band.
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