Complementary Therapies Find a Home in the Integrative Health Program

Published on in Philanthropy Report

Although physician-scientists at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia are constantly making discoveries regarding new and creative therapeutics, CHOP also knows the power of age-old medical traditions. Acupuncture, a healing method believed to have been developed in China around 100 BC, is among the therapies now available to CHOP patients interested in additional ways to address the effects of illnesses and injuries.

CHOP’s Integrative Health program promotes optimal wellness of patients, families and Hospital staff by providing holistic healthcare through an integrated approach. This is accomplished by enhancing traditional medicine with complementary therapies, conducting research to provide sound evidence for such practices, and educating clinicians and caregivers. Program services are chosen based on science, not trends. And when grounds for a therapy are limited but promising, the Integrative Health program will develop research to investigate a stronger proof of efficacy.

boy practicing yoga“Patients and families are very excited about these new offerings,” says Maria Mascarenhas, MBBS, a pediatric gastroenterologist and nutrition specialist who leads the program.

Caregivers are increasingly seeking alternative remedies to relieve pain, manage stress and even completely resolve symptoms. Recognizing this interest and the multiple ways to view treatment, the Integrative Health program facilitates healing and holistic wellness in a safe and controlled environment. Services currently include acupuncture and nutrition counseling in consultation with a child’s team of providers.

Philanthropy has enhanced all facets of the program, with education and research especially aided through donor support. For example, the program is able to collaborate with institutions around the country to teach residents and healthcare providers how to best embed integrative therapies into their practices. This year, twice as many residents, nurse practitioners and physicians at CHOP signed up for trainings than in the previous year.

“It’s phenomenal,” Mascarenhas says of the increased interest. “They all want to learn.”

Mascarenhas and her team are excited to expand this program. They will begin offering more holistic services such as yoga, medical massages, aromatherapy and mindfulness meditation within the next year — because treating the whole child is what drives Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia every day.

Validating CHOP’s decision to launch this program, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Institutes of Health recently reported a growing use of integrative therapies by patients and families nationwide. CHOP donors also strengthened the recent decision to increase auxiliary therapies. Generous benefactors to the Integrative Health program include:

  • The Aetna Foundation
  • Bethany Asplundh
  • Bryna and Fred Berman
  • Dream Makerz Foundation
  • Lynne L. and William M. Garbose
  • The Marjorie S. and Solomon Katz Foundation
  • Lubert Family Foundation