Clinic offers low-cost natural medicine

By Bruce Rommel

Valley Daily News


The Kent Community Health Center and the new King County Natural Medicine Clinic opens its doors today, although patient and clinic staff will have to make do with slightly cramped quarters for a few days.

The new Natural Medicine Clinic has two naturopathic physicians, an acupuncturist and a nutritionist. The Community Health Center has three family physicians. The combined staff makes the facility the nation's first publicly funded clinic offering conventional and alternative or natural medical services for low-income residents, immigrants, and refugees.

Some final revisions and a city inspection are required for a modular building recently moved to the site of the clinic. " It may be a few days before that building is open, but there is room for normal operation in the remainder of the facility," said Tom Trompeter, associate director of Community Health Centers of King County.

Community Heath Centers operates six clinics in King County outside of Seattle, including those in Auburn, Kent and Renton. The downtown Kent clinic was closed in August and the temporary Kent clinic was established until a new building for the facility is completed next summer.

Until then, the Kent Community Health Center and the Natural Medicine Clinic will be as the temporary site on South 259th Street just east of Central Avenue.

"When the Kent clinic closed in August, doctors were seeing about 200 patients per week," Trompeter said. Those patients have been going to the clinics in Renton or Auburn until the temporary facility opens here.

The clinic serves low-income residents, immigrants and refugees, and those on Medicare and Medicaid assignment. The clinic also serves those who aren't receiving public assistance and don't have health insurance are charged discounted fees on a sliding scale based on household income.

For further information, call the clinic at 852-2866.

Echinacea, Burdock Root, ginkgo biloba...

A unique clinic opens in Kent

Seattle Times

By Emelyn Cruz Lat


Liz Sandin had tried pain relievers, shots and other traditional medications for severe recurring headaches, but none had worked.

Yesterday, she visited a homeopathic doctor and received gelsenium, an herb made from yellow jasmine, and it worked.

Sandin's switch to natural cures was nothing new. A 1993 Harvard study indicated fully a third of all Americans had used some form of alternative remedy.

What 's new is that the Metropolitan King County Council has helped to foot the bill to provide the service.

The nation's first publicly funded natural-medicine clinic opened its doors yesterday to low-income South End residents.

The King County Natural Medicine Clinic, 8309 S. 259th St., offers a blend of modern Western medicine and natural practices, such as acupuncture, herbal remedies and massage therapy.

Yesterday, patients crowded into the gray single-story facility for treatment of ailments ranging from headaches to asthma, getting prescriptions filled for herbs such as echinacea, burdock root, ginkgo biloba and freeze-dried nettles -- remedies used to treats various symptoms including migraines, hay fever and gout.

The clinic, managed by Bastyr University officials, has a staff of two family doctors, a physician's assistant, two naturopathic doctors, an acupuncturist and practitioner of traditional Chinese herbal medicines, and a nutritionist.

The County Council approved the two-year pilot project in February 1995, after health-care experts testified at a hearing that alternative therapies such as massage and herbal remedies often cost less and focus more on preventive care.

The county received a $750,000 federal grant to start the clinic.

"Serious injuries and emergency cases such as fractures, strokes and lacerations will be treated by conventional methods," says Marty Ross, the clinic's medical director. Patients with less serious ailments such as cold, constipation, allergies and migraines will be given their choice of traditional or alternative treatments.

"The naturopathic approach works with the notion that the body is a wise organism that in many instances can heal itself," said Jane Guiltinan, Bastyr University's chief medical officer.

Before health-insurance changes went into effect in January, most insurance carriers were unwilling to cover alternative therapies, so most users tended to be more affluent.

The clinic, which is expected to treat 1,700 individuals in the next year and provide up to 7,000 visits, will serve a low-income population that is about 25 percent minority, many of whom are recent immigrants or refugees.

"The clinic has generated a lot of interest in the Russian, Ukrainian, Southeast Asian and Hispanic communities where members are often more accustomed to traditional cures," said Thomas Trompeter, associate director of community health centers of King County, which runs the clinic along with five other health centers in the area.

However, some like Tom Curry, executive director of the 8,000 member Washington State Medical Association the question the county's role in natural medicine.

"I think it's a political issue between the County Council and their constituents," Curry said. "The issue is whether the county should be spending its tax dollars on this type of treatment...(Natural health) practitioners should be held accountable to the same standards as traditional medical providers in terms of proving effectiveness of their treatments."

Clinic officials said studies will be conducted in the next year to evaluate the clinic's success.

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