Pillsbury House Clinic Featured in Minnesota Health Care News

Kate Martin | October 13, 2011

The Pillsbury House Integrative Health Clinic was featured in the October issue of Minnesota Health Care News, a publication for healthcare consumers.

Pillsbury House

The Pillsbury House Integrative Health Clinic was featured in the October issue of Minnesota Health Care News, a publication for healthcare consumers. In the Perspective column, Dr. Zeigler writes about how Northwestern is partnering to provide a new model of integrative health care. The full text of the article follows.

Partnering to Provide a New Model of Integrative Health Care

Tucked away in a neighborhood center in the Powderhorn community of Minneapolis is a little-known clinic that’s changing the way people think about health care. Every Wednesday and Saturday, students studying chiropractic, massage therapy, acupuncture and Oriental medicine, psychology, and health coaching team up with nursing and medical students to provide free integrative health care to residents of one of the poorest neighborhoods in south Minneapolis.

Since 2007, the Pillsbury House Integrated Health Clinic has combined complementary and alternative medicine with traditional medical care to serve the unique health needs of the neighboring community. The Pillsbury House Integrated Health Clinic is a collaborative effort between Northwestern Health Sciences University (NHSU); the University of Minnesota Medical School; the School of Nursing; and Center for Spirituality and Healing; and the Adler Graduate School. It is the first student-run integrated health clinic and operates in the Pillsbury House, located at 3501 Chicago Avenue South in Minneapolis.

Clinic patients are treated with a unique approach to health care that combines medical, psychological, and natural health care treatments. Under the supervision of faculty clinicians, students collaborate to combine their skills and provide a care plan tailored to each individual patient. The patients get the best of all the professions because the students aren’t competing--they are there to work together to help the patient. Best of all, the care is free and the clinic is open to the public.

The unique care model was designed to benefit both the patient and the student. A patient first visits with a student who serves as a patient advocate and documents their health history.  Then the patient visits with an integrated health care unit, which can consist of a combination of one or more students from the acupuncture, chiropractic, massage therapy, psychology, nursing, or medical school.

Typically around 20 students per shift staff the clinic. All of the students are volunteers, although their time at the clinic counts toward required clinical training hours. The Pillsbury Clinic provides a rich clinical learning experience, according to Michele Renee, DC, the clinic Chief of Staff and assistant professor in the School of Massage Therapy at NHSU. “For the right student it's a great opportunity. They will experience a range of patient concerns that it would take years to encounter in the typical practice. One of the goals is to maintain a strong learning component for the students, so we’re constantly trying to be innovating in our thinking.”

The clinic sees 50-70 patients each week. Many patients live in the surrounding community and have no health coverage. Others are self-employed or working in jobs that have no health benefits. Still others have health insurance, but it doesn’t cover or limits natural health care treatments.

A swelling patient volume prompted a 2009 expansion of the clinic’s physical space. Formerly housed in the basement of the Pillsbury House, which also served as the center's daycare, the clinic now has three dedicated spaces plus a small office. Over time, patient growth created a demand that was hard to keep up with. The team spent most of this past summer brainstorming how the clinic could enhance the patient experience. The clinic now offers scheduled appointments, instead of 100 percent walk-ins. Also, the clinic added hours on Monday evenings for acupuncture and massage therapy treatments, for patients who have already visited with a care team.

It is still not considered “mainstream” for providers from the allopathic and natural health care fields to join efforts in treating patients. At Northwestern, we are pushing the boundaries to create new models of care. We are pushing for legislation that benefits the natural care professions. We are delivering the best natural health care education to ensure a new generation of practitioners.

All the students involved at the Pillsbury House Integrated Health Clinic demonstrate a willingness to learn from one another in order to better treat the patients they see. This collaboration and the partnerships that support it are a sign of progress. Patients deserve to have all treatments and health care options available to them. We hope that clinics like this will inspire others to work together to create new models of providing integrated health care.

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