In today’s world, an increasing number of people are taking their health care into their own hands. Generations before simply followed the doctors’ orders and assumed they were getting the best treatment possible.
But with so much more information at our fingertips and more treatments available for everything from cancer to the common cold, people are taking steps to educate themselves to ask the appropriate questions when meeting with their medical care provider.
For a group of health care professionals in Sandpoint, education is the key to their mission. Comprised of nine professionals who specialize in areas such as physical therapy, yoga, massage therapy, chiropractic care and homeopathy, Sandpoint Wellness Council provides research-based information on a holistic approach to health.
“We have people who are hungry for information,” said Krystle Shapiro, a massage therapist who founded the Sandpoint Wellness Council two years ago.
Mary Boyd, a physical therapist and member of the Sandpoint Wellness Council, agrees that education is vital to providing people with the best care possible.
“Physicians just don’t have the time to spend with patients and explain things like how the spine works and what happens when you are bending a certain way,” said Boyd.
Boyd said people tend to go to doctors when they experience symptoms and do not focus as much on what brought on their symptoms. “But we (holistic practitioners) focus on the causes (of the symptoms),” said Boyd.
Owen Marcus, whose specialty is Rolfing – a process that focuses on manipulating the soft tissue of the body in order to bring the body into alignment with gravity – was approached by Shapiro and thought the Wellness Council was a brilliant idea.
“I had a holistic medical clinic in Scottsdale (Ariz.) for 17 years. Certainly, providing alternative health modalities was a big part of our mission. But a large portion of our work centered on promoting the idea of holistic health – making people aware of it and trusting of it,” said Marcus, who adds that he has witnessed firsthand what holistic health has done for thousands of clients. “With our current health-care crisis, I believe we have a great opportunity to educate frustrated consumers about effective alternatives.”
In their quest to educate the community on how to treat the entire mind, body and spirit, the Sandpoint Wellness Council publishes numerous articles in local publications, posts information on a blog and hosts a monthly radio talk show.
“Through our articles, radio shows and public appearances, I hope holistic therapies become a valid adjunct to whatever people currently do to enhance their well being,” said Marcus.
Because the group includes such diverse practices – some of which include quantum biofeedback which reads the energy throughout one’s body via a machine that was invented by NASA scientists; CranioSacral massage therapy that focuses on one’s cranial rhythm through the monitoring of the cerebral spinal fluid; and herbology and aromatherapy – the members of the group try to experience one another’s fields by visiting the other practitioners and witnessing their techniques firsthand. By doing this, they are more knowledgeable and can refer their clients to other services which may benefit them.
“I will recognize when something is out of my scope of practice,” said Shapiro who adds that through her association with other holistic practitioners she is able to then refer her client to someone who can benefit them. “As a team we are all committed to making the patient better.”
Boyd says that medicine has become so specialized that there is no longer a focus on the whole patient.
“We want to be supportive of people,” said Boyd. “And for those who are open to different ideas, it’s our job to educate them.”
To further its goal, the Sandpoint Wellness Council plans to host educational workshops this year as well as publish a newsletter.
“Just as we are an art and green town, I am the instigator in positioning Sandpoint as a holistic town. The (Sandpoint Wellness) council has been kind enough to support me in this position,” said Marcus. “I want to enroll many more in that concept. People move here for these reasons. I believe that, on several levels, our wealth of holistic practitioners is an untapped resource for our community.”
Another goal of the council is to meet with doctors in the community to let them know more about the Sandpoint Wellness Council and its members who are certified in their fields.
“We want to raise awareness of what is available and prompt people to ask questions,” said Shapiro. “Health care is really a team effort for the benefit of the patient. When people are aware of all the options and benefits, they have a better chance of being well.”