A holistic medical facility planned alongside Mercy Gilbert Medical Center is anticipated to become a national model for integrating conventional and naturopathic medicine. The Celebration Center for Integrated Healing is planned on 5 acres next to the first full-service hospital in Gilbert.
The hospital opens June 5 at Val Vista Drive and the future Santan Freeway leg of Loop 202, and the center is expected to open by late 2007.
Although it’s just a small part of the 100-acre campus, the naturopathic center has influenced the focus of the Catholic Healthcare West 60-acre hospital, which has embraced a similar philosophy of integrated health care.
Daniel Rubin, a naturopathic doctor in Scottsdale who is expected to be certified as one of the first naturopathic oncologists in the nation, said the center’s impact will reach beyond the state, “not only as a community marker of modern health care, but as a national marker for people with disease that are interested in the integrated approach to their care.”
Rubin, who plans to practice at the center, said he’s had patients on chemotherapy or other Western treatments respond faster and feel better when also on alternative therapies.
The idea of mixing alternative therapies with Western medicine is gaining popularity in the health care community. Organizations such as the American Academy of Medical Acupuncture study and promote using both types of care.
The center is a longtime dream for its creator Sherry Lund, a board member of the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Tempe. Her family is developing the Celebration Center with money from family foundations. It’s just one piece of 1,000 acres of development including an automall and Main Street Commons mall that Valley developer Bill Lund, her husband, has planned for the area.
The Lunds lost their daughter Victoria to liver failure in 2002 at the age of 36. Alternative treatments had helped Victoria survive her original diagnoses of 10 days to live, and recover within five weeks, Sherry Lund said. But the illness recurred.
“We did everything we could,” she said. “It was a very sad situation. So I said: We need to help other people who want to know the options.”
Lund said she herself survived a staph infection caught during an operation, using alternative medicine after conventional methods failed. Doctors often don’t offer alternative therapies for serious or terminal illness, she said.
“When patients ask doctors to work together, whether they’re N.D. or M.D., you get the best care possible,” Lund said. “All my life I’ve used both.”
Rubin and colleagues are planning research to illustrate how well allopathic, or conventional, medicine works with naturopathic treatments from massage to hydrotherapy or reiki. Arizona naturopathic doctors at the site plan to work with a Florida hospital on colon cancer research, after the facility expressed interest in forming a similar integrated program to Gilbert’s.
The center’s 200-seat lecture hall will host weekly educational health programs and national conferences on integration.
Up to 40 naturopathic doctors with various specialties will accept patients at the center, and will visit patients at the neighboring hospital, Lund said.
The hospital will work closely with naturopathic doctors and have its own healing garden and positive atmosphere, from the paint on the walls to a visitors’ sofa in every room, said Kim Hashim, the chief nursing officer.
“We want to provide some of those natural healing elements such as touch, massage and some complementary medicine that patients look for now,” she said. “There is a big swing for people seeking additional ways to stay healthy.”
Holistic center focuses
• Cancer Center
• Neurology and Headache Center
• Pain and Wound
• Diagnostic Center
What: Mercy Gilbert Medical Center open house
When: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 20
Where: 3555 S. Val Vista Drive