Kent's natural medicine clinic is landmark project

South County Journal Opinion Page 5/10/97

by Merrily Manthey, M.S.

Kent counselor


A revolution is occurring in health care. Science and conventional medicine now have the technology and understanding necessary to appreciate the value of "natural" therapies. This is just in time. For the last decade, health care in the United States has been in the emergency room, waiting for a miracle. Pacing nervously about in the "ER," leaders have struggled to find a solution to the crisis. That solution may be natural medicine. And a cornerstone of the long-awaited miracle may be in Kent.


You've been hearing about the accelerating interest in natural treatments. We read headlines that say, 'Good diet can slash blood pressure,' 'Scientists acknowledge the benefits of Vitamin E." Angioplasty and bypass surgery may do more harm than good." " Diabetes can be reversed with natural treatments."


The public demand for natural treatments is a natural outcome of conventional medicine. As conventional health care increased the quantity of life it opened up the opportunity to enhance the quality of life. Because of the costs of surgeries and complications from them, an opening emerged for non-surgical, natural approaches. Because of the multitude of side effects from prescription drugs, herbs and supplements are now desired.


As a practitioner of behavioral science and member of the governing boards of Harboriew Medical Center and Bastyr University, I have had a unique opportunity to witness and participate in this positive change. Trauma and acute care has never been better. We are lucky to have Harborview. However, we spend 70 percent of our health care dollars treating chronic disease such as arthritis, heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, gall bladder disease, diabetes, and emphysema. Virtually all of our elderly loved ones suffer from one of more chronic degenerative diseases. That's where Bastyr comes in its graduates focus on prevention, education, and treatment of the root cause of chronic illness. The only fully-accredited "medical school" for natural medicine practitioners, Bastyr is nationally recognized for leadership in setting the standard for treatment of chronic disease.


Degenerative disease leads many Americans to seek natural treatments A recent Harvard study found that one third of us seek alternative treatments, most of which are still not covered by insurance. Nearly one half of Washingtonians, receive such treatment. Sixty percent of patients at the Community Health Centers in King County said they wanted access to natural medicine.


At the King County Natural Medicine Clinic in Kent, managed by Bastyr, people have such access through the first publicly funded clinic in the nation. This landmark clinic is making big news. Features on the clinic have appeared in the New York Times, CNN, People Magazine, Family Circle, Peter Jennings World News, "Good Morning America" and Associated Press.


Mayor Jim White and the Kent City Council joined in framing a new Vision for the city - by unanimous resolution, they declared a wish to become the Wellness Capital of America.


Resolution 1449 cites that Kent is already host to a number of nationally and internationally known natural treatments specialists. An example is Dr. Jonathan Wright, M.D., of the Tahoma Clinic. Half of patients who come to Wright's clinic come from out of the area--beyond state boundaries. Experts have noted that conventionally medicine offered by the Mayo Clinic, in the Kent-sized city Rochester, Minn., brings large numbers of people, and $1,000,000 per day to the city. These experts believe increased natural medicine services could do this for Kent.


Plans are underway for additional infrastructure in Kent to expand, attract and accommodate natural medicine services. The Downtown Development project cites the opportunity for a natural medicine focus. Investors are looking at Kent for possible development related to natural medicine. Through its vision Kent is leading the way to a cornerstone in 21st Century health care.

For information about the King County Natural Medicine Clinic phone 852-1266