I have always had a passion for helping people heal. I worked as a nurse in critical care units including respiratory intensive care, coronary care, surgical intensive care, emergency departments and post anesthesia care. In 1993 while at the American Association of Critical Care Nurses Conference, I attended a pre-conference on “Healing the Healer Within” presented by Barbara Dossey, Cathy Guzetta, and Chris Kessler. It opened my eyes to a whole new world of holistic nursing and healing the whole person – body, mind and spirit. I applied much of this whole person approach to my work as a critical care specialist. We began using music therapy, touch therapy, massage and guided imagery with patients for pain control, stress reduction and to enhance overall wellbeing.
When the hospital I was working for began its open heart surgery program in 1995 we were able to include an expressive art therapist on our team. She saw everyone who had a heart attack or open heart surgery over a 3 (three) month period. The results astounded me! Seventy Five percent of these patients had significant unresolved grief issues. I realized they had a “broken heart” which manifested physically as a blockage in their coronary arteries. I knew then that healing was more than just a physicality.
As my desire to heal the whole person grew, my frustration with the hospital system increased. I found that the hospital system was not patient/family centered. Most used archaic systems to support the medical or nursing staff. One example of this is the fact that we would awaken patients at 4:30 am or 5:00 am to draw blood or do X-rays so these results could be on the patients’ chart by the time the physician made rounds at 7:00am. Another common practice was that patients in the intensive care unit would be bathed at 3:00-4:00 AM because that was a time when no other tests or procedures were scheduled. Again this practice was not for the patient’s best interest. Additionally, I recognized the value of healthy nutrition and took note of the nutritionally depleted foods we were serving patients. Even more distressing was the fact that commonly patients were served very inflammatory foods that increase cholesterol and blood sugar right after having open heart surgery. I knew I had to do something different to fulfill my passion of healing the whole person.
I quit my critical care clinical specialist position in August 1996. In September, I listened to a tape series by Deepak Chopra, a renowned endocrinologist specializing in Quantum Physics. He mentioned 5 (five) steps to fulfilling your desires and dreams. First get into a meditative state and connect to God. Second, put it out there what you would like to do. Third, don’t be attached to how it is going to happen. Fourth, allow the Universe to handle the details. Fifth, the results are guaranteed. I said “Ok God”, I want to change the healthcare system. I named about 25 things that were just wrong in my perception.
The following January, I received a call from one of my friends who told me about a program coming to Louisville. Nurses from the New York College of Holistic Health Education and Research had started a traveling nurse’s certificate program in Amma therapy and were going around the country to teach this work. Amma Therapy is a form of Acupressure based on Traditional Chinese Medicine that includes manual therapy and massage techniques using the 12 main meridian channels. It is very holistic in nature and includes healthy nutrition, yoga, and tai chi. I knew this was an answer to my prayers and completed the 2 (two) year certificate program. Anneke Young, who was a protégé of Mrs. Tina Sohn, who actually brought Amma Therapy to the United States, was our beloved teacher. In 1997, I started my own practice offering Amma Therapy and a holistic nursing assessment. I worked in the post anesthesia recovery room prn while my own practice grew and developed. In 2000, I met 3 (three) other practitioners who were interested in starting an integrative medicine center and together we created Institute for Integrative Medicine. This included Dr. Slava Paskovich, a physician from the Ukraine, Eddie Campomonas, a physical therapist, Amber Stone, PT assistant who was trained in massage, cranial sacral therapy and strain/counterstrain techniques, Dr. Mosen Khani, a chiropractor, and myself. We worked together for 3 (three) years. After that period of time we each had a different vision of where we wanted to take our practices.
In June, 2003, while meditating and contemplating on how to continue my vision to change the Healthcare system, I dreamed of writing a book on the Transformation of Health Care. I knew I needed a publishing class and I wanted to see a hospital in Hawaii that I had heard about and knew was the epitome of how future hospitals should be designed and managed. Two weeks after I set my intention I received a brochure in the mail advertising the National Nurses in Business meeting to be held in late July and included a 4 hour publishing segment. Three weeks later I received a brochure advertising an Integrative Medicine Program in cardiology. It was sponsored by the American College of Cardiology and co-sponsored by the North Hawaii Community Hospital which was the hospital that I had said I wanted to visit! I could not believe my eyes at first and it took a couple weeks for this to sink in. I didn’t know how we were going to do it but I told my husband that we had to attend both of these conferences. They both were life changing. At the national nurses in business conference in Chicago two myths were dispelled for me. As nurses we have always been conditioned to believe that nurses were employees but not employers. I met several nurses that had their own businesses and employed hundreds of people dispelling this myth. The second myth was that nurses could not be rich. I met several nurses there whose businesses were making more than their physician husbands. This was also eye opening – just to know it could be done!
In October, 2003, my husband and I attended the Integrative Medicine Cardiology Conference cosponsored by the North Hawaii Community Hospital. It was surreal. Only about 60 people attended however they were the powerhouses in Integrative Medicine. Dr. Dean Ornish, Dr. Andrew Weil, Dr. Robert Superko, Dr. Mimi Guarneri and Dr. David Eisenberg were some of the conference attendees. Since the meeting was in Hawaii, everyone stayed the entire week. We had classes until about noon and then the entire afternoon was free to network with the conference attendees. You can imagine how excited I was to meet and talk with these incredible people. We also got to tour the North Hawaii Community Hospital which was even more amazing than I could have imagined. On the second day of the conference, I met a very special nurse practitioner, Pam McDonald. We immediately connected and have become lifelong friends/colleagues. Pam had just started her own practice, Heart HealthWatchers as part of Penscott Medical. We immediately knew that our passions and visions were similar and both were committed to change cardiovascular care and the overall health of Americans. Pam was just writing her book on the APO E gene diet which was later published in November 2006. My practice expanded under Pam’s direction to become the KY site for Heart HealthWatchers.
During the same year, I moved to an office on Baxter Ave. with Bobbi Brooks, a master herbalist and medical intuitive. Bobbi had worked directly with Hanna Kroeger, a natural healer and nurse who opened one of the first health food stores in the country in Boulder, Co. Bobbi along with Ginger Bowler taught many classes on the teachings of Hanna Kroeger. I had the privilege of taking several of these classes and worked with Bobbi for 7 years. I learned a great deal about energy medicine, homeopathy, herbs and natural healing techniques from these two wonderful women.
My passion for holistic nursing and Integrative Medicine continued to expand. I continued to work with Pam McDonald and the APO E gene diet. With her encouragement, I enrolled in the University of Arizona Program for Integrative Medicine, which is the premier education in the country for Integrative Medicine . The Fellowship provided an extraordinary opportunity to study with Dr. Andrew Weil, Dr. Tieraona Low Dog and Dr. Victoria Maizes. I completed the fellowship in December 2006.
The same year, along with several committed nurses, we revived the Ky Holistic Nurses Association. Through KHNA, we have brought many gifted holistic practitioners to our community such as Barbara Dossey, (renowned author, lecturer and educator of Holistic Nursing), Martha Moore Stevens (Teacher of Esoteric Healing), Lynn Chadd (Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner), Dr. Bridget Bongaard (Internal Medicine / Integrative Medicine) and of course, Pam McDonald.
Another profound teacher in my life has been Dr. Wayne Dyer. I have studied his work, listened to his CD’s and read many of his books. I also recommend his CD sets to any new nurses that comes to shadow at our office as well as many of our patients that need his motivational and inspirational message in their lives. Through Divine Intervention, Pam and I were able to meet him in June 2009. Many miracles followed that encounter. Pam is now speaking around the world with Dr. Dyer to continue to further the message of the APO E gene diet and its role in preventing many chronic illnesses that plague us today.
As we grew and expanded our services, it became very clear that we had outgrown our lovely office at Baxter Ave and on November 1, 2010, we moved to our current office location at 205 Townepark Circle. It took one year to find the ideal space, location and practitioners. We are very excited to be together, help each other be as healthy as possible and forward the science of holistic healing and Integrative Medicine. I am privileged to work with amazing dedicated practitioners. We continue to guide and counsel patients using the APO E gene test results and advanced lipid profile. We created a 10 week Intentional Wellness program to help support people in transforming their health. This includes the profound work of Dr. Clifford Kuhn (Ha-Ha-Ha prescription) and Kimberly May (HeartMath biofeedback). I am greatly honored to work with such gifted and loving practitioners.