Taking Responsibility for Healing

Article excerpt

Patients may no longer be satisfied to leave all the decisions up to their doctors. And doctors may no longer be satisfied to offer patients only physical solutions to physical problems.

At least, that's the philosophy behind the Center for Mind, Body, and Spirit at Integris Baptist Medical Center. But the philosophy is founded on a decade of research in the burgeoning field of psychoneuroimmunology, which suggests a relationship between the mind and body. The center is dedicated to educating people about that connection, sometimes called a holistic approach to health.

"You've got to believe the physician believes in you," says James L. Hall Jr., advisory board chairman and co-founder of the center -- as well as the head of the health care division of the Oklahoma City law firm Crowe and Dunlevy. "You need hope and the physician needs to give you that hope." Hall learned this from personal experience. Diagnosed with lung cancer in October 1996, he started searching for answers of what he could do to regain his health. "I was surprised at how little information there was." Hall went to a cancer support group, but found that the others in the group also had more questions than answers. When he asked others in the group about books they'd read, he says he was met with blank stares. So Hall did his own research, read lots of books and developed an extensive bibliography that he shares with others. Last September, Hall heard that Dr. Murali Krishna, president of Integris Mental Health, and William F. Carpenter, director of the hospital's pastoral care, had been discussing forming the center. Hall knew he wanted to be a part of it, so he called Krishna and the three of them had a meeting to discuss the project. The organization secured an office space at 3366 Northwest Expressway, debuted its newletter Harmony in February, and hosted its first of a series of events with leading names in the mind/body field. These have been attended by more than 2,000 people from the general public as well as 500+ professionals. In addition, the center is beginning a series of workshops in July for the terminally ill and their families. Hall's convinced that a patient should view himself as a partner with the physician, learning as much about his diagnosed illness as possible. He adds that only 15-20 percent of all patients accept any responsibility for their own healing. Healing is Hall's key word, making a distinction between healing and recovery. No one, he notes, can guarantee recovery. Everyone will die at some point. Healing, however, could mean other things, such as reducing a person's pain, slowing the dying process, or helping the patient die with a sense of peace. While the center does not provide the alternative therapies sometimes associated with the mind/body connection, such as acupuncture or massage, it does aim to provide information enabling patients information to make their own decisions about these options. …