A few months later, while attending an integrative health conference in California, the two doctors learned how mindfulness-based practices like meditation, breathing techniques, acupuncture, and yoga were being used within the scope of conventional outpatient medicine to emphasize person-centered care and introduce evidence-based alternative practices to patients.
“Several academic medical centers across the country are starting to offer these services, and patients are benefiting tremendously,” says Dr. Parikh, noting that there is considerable research that supports the use of integrative methods. “As one of the top healthcare institutions in the country, we knew we had to offer these services to our patients and employees.”
The notion of a dedicated integrative health center at NewYork-Presbyterian, where patients and employees could access a wide range of such services under one roof and use those tools to live healthier lives, hadn’t fully taken shape, but in their minds, the wheels were turning.
They presented their vision of offering integrative health and wellness services — not just as an add-on to the hospital but an integral, embedded program available to all patients — to hospital leaders. In March 2016, the center opened 12 blocks from NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center.
Today, Drs. Gupta and Parikh are co-directors of the Integrative Health and Wellbeing program at NewYork-Presbyterian, in collaboration with Weill Cornell Medicine. A customized “whole person approach” addresses not just patients’ physical state but also their emotional, environmental, and social wellbeing.
The program will soon move to the David H. Koch Center, slated to open in April 2018 across the street from NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center on the Upper East Side. The state-of-the-art ambulatory care center is designed to consider patients’ experience at every turn, with soothing interior design and calming patient rooms and treatment areas, where multispecialty teams can provide seamless, high-quality care. The center will also have space for community events like yoga and meditation classes.
“Over the last two years we have been intimately involved in the design process to create a truly healing environment,” says Dr. Parikh, an assistant professor of medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine. “Special attention has been given to include more natural and environmentally friendly elements that will help patients dissociate from the busy streets of New York City into a tranquil sanctuary.”
Drs. Gupta and Parikh work closely with patients’ physicians to provide personalized treatment plans. Although insurance covers some of the services, it usually does not cover the mind-body instruction classes (yoga, tai chi) and massage therapy.
The care that the six-person team offers is part of a growing healthcare trend that focuses on prevention and wellness.
“The message that we want to send is that a lot of the control of your health is in your hands,” says Dr. Gupta, an assistant professor of medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine. “It’s never too late for prevention.”