There is no doubt that in Australia complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) has become a more accepted and widely used form of healthcare with nearly two-thirds of Australians using some form of complementary medicine – often without disclosing this to their doctor. Patients with chronic diseases are also increasingly looking for healthcare outside the conventional health system.
In essence, what appears to be occurring is a social movement featuring the increasing validity of CAM within the healthcare services of Australia and other countries that include the USA and the UK. CAM is here to stay and will continue to present challenges for conventional medicine on how to respond.
Here in Australia and overseas there is an emergence of integrative medicine which is essentially a blend of conventional and evidence based complementary medicines and therapies and lifestyle interventions for the treatment and prevention of disease.
What has been a significant drier for integrative medicine is the increased community interest in complementary medicine and as a result there is now a real need for general practitioners to be increasingly familiar with a number of areas within integrative medicine.
There are numerous ways in which this can be done. One is for doctors to gain training in CAM methods of which the most common are acupuncture, homoeopathy, psychology and traditional Chinese medicine. Another option is for traditional medical centres to include licensed or registered CAM providers such as chiropractors, naturopaths, homoeopaths and acupuncturists in their centres or clinics. A third solution is for doctors to simply learn as much as possible about CAM, and to ensure their patients feel comfortable enough to discuss their use of CAM with them.
Newcastle based Mayfield Medical Connection is Newcastle’s fist truly Integrated Health and Medical Practice offering General Practice services as well as herbalism, acupuncture, naturopathy and reiki from qualified GPs. Thy also provide onsite pathology, dietetic and psychology services.
For Kath Teagle, who founded Mayfield Medical Connection 4 years ago, it’s all about considering and treating the whole person and not just their symptoms.
For Kath an ‘integrated approach to healthcare’ means combining the best of both worlds - the advantage of western medical knowledge and treatments with the option to use natural therapies openly.
"A comprehensive approach to integrative medicine involves more than simply adding a little complementary knowledge to the 'tool kit’ of the GP" explains Kath.
"Instead, integrative medicine includes a philosophy of healthcare, as well as a way of practicing. It not only improves health care for patients, but it is also more cost effective. It puts the patient at the centre, is informed by evidence, and addresses the full range of physical, emotional, mental, social, and environmental influences that can affect a person’s health".
The desire to start an integrated health and medical practice was really based on Kath’s own life experiences as a child with a very ill mother, a partner to a man given a diagnosis of a potentially terminal illness and the frustrations of finding balanced heath care solutions as the parent of two young children.
For Kath it made sense, that rather than training to be a doctor, to invest her energy and time into creating a practice that attracted the kind of medical practitioners and complementary therapists that were open to providing the very best health care working together in a supportive environment.
Since then the practice has attracted the special skills and talents of people like Dr Bo Wong, who is a GP and an acupuncturist, Dr Filipe Soares Rocha who is also a practicing Reiki Master, and the well-considered practices of Dr Miranda Cook, Dr Kristy Baily and registrar Dr Riarne Smith. They have also added the excitement and commitment of dieticians, psychologists, naturopaths and an onsite pathology.
The clinic is passionate about being there for the community and people of all walks of life and have recently followed this passion by gaining approval from ACON as an LGBTI Safe Place.
Plans for 2016 include a men’s weight loss group based on the Gut-Buster lifestyle program, a Newcastle initiative that provides real hope for permanent, sustainable weight loss. Not to mention the extension to the building that’s just about to start that will house a far- infrared sauna for chronic pain relief and detox assistance. For more information visit www.mayfieldmedicalconnection.com.au