Integrative medicine programs unite under new collaborative


Photo: Back row, from left: Helen Lavretsky, MD, Samantha Gaffney, Lariza Johnson, Ellen Wilson and Amy Lau Herzberg; front row, from left: Cindy Jaeger, Wendy Tucker and Zhaoping Li, MD, PhD.

For more than 30 years, UCLA Health has been pairing traditional medical treatments with integrative medicine therapies that address a patient’s mind, body and spirit. Now, a new initiative is bringing the health system’s various integrative medicine offerings under one comprehensive umbrella: the UCLA Health Integrative Medicine Collaborative.

“We offer many wonderful integrative medicine programs to patients, but each program tends to operate autonomously,” says Ellen G. Wilson, MS, executive director, UCLA Health therapy services. “By coordinating our various departments and programs under this collaborative, we better position ourselves to learn from each other’s successes and challenges, work together on projects, combine fundraising efforts and, ultimately, to provide patients with the best possible options.”

The demand for integrative medicine therapies continues to increase, driven by both patients and physicians who seek nonpharmacological alternatives to manage pain and discomfort and facilitate healing, says Wilson, who is helping structure the new collaborative.

UCLA Health currently offers a vast array of integrative medicine therapies, including massage, acupuncture, yoga, meditation, Dr. Dean Ornish’s Program for Reversing Heart Disease, The Heart Touch Project™ and Urban Zen Integrative Therapy. Other centers offer holistic therapies, including the UCLA Center for East-West Medicine, the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center, the Norman Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology at UCLA and the Simms/Mann UCLA Center for Integrative Oncology.

In addition to offering patients individualized therapeutic services, the collaborative will also conduct research to demonstrate the efficacy of various therapies and advocate for policy changes to secure health insurance coverage of alternative treatments.