Heals on Wheels provides whole person care

integrative medicine staff holding heals on wheels sign, heals on wheels program, whole person care at home, holistic care at home, integrative care in community

The Heals on Wheels (HoW) program at Hennepin Healthcare centers around the concept that to truly provide whole-person care to everyone in our community, sometimes we must make the effort to literally meet patients where they are. Barriers to transportation and access to whole-person, integrative care are a seemingly insurmountable problem for many. HoW strives to eliminate these barriers by bringing our integrative team directly into the community, fostering deeper connections between the healthcare teams and the people they serve.

HoW began with funding from the MN Department of Human Services – focusing on holistic ways of managing chronic pain for upstream prevention of and treatment for opioid abuse. Over the past 9 months, we’ve traveled to 8 different community sites to deliver our “Appetizers”, giving participants a taste of what integrative chronic pain care looks and feels like. These sessions are led by a diverse team of providers: an integrative health doctor, an acupuncturist, a massage therapist, an integrative physical therapist/yoga therapist, a community ambassador, and integrative health students from Northwestern Health Science University. While each provider has a unique skill to share with the groups, we all agree that the Community Ambassador is the star of the show – as an alumni from one of our integrative chronic pain groups shares their first-person accounts of how they reduced their pain medication and found new purpose in life through mind/body pain management strategies.

Heals on Wheels Kate Shafto chronic pain, heals on wheels program, whole person care at home, holistic care at home, integrative care in communityAfter the Appetizer, HoW participants are invited to sign up for the “Full Meal” of an Easing Pain Holistically Group Medical Visit series. In the fall, we hosted two versions of the Easing Pain Holistically groups – one centered on headaches and the other on muscle and joint pain. The final course, Easing Pain Holistically: Emotions and Chronic Pain will take place this winter/spring – focusing on how to care for the emotional impact of chronic pain. This heart-centered group begins (appropriately) on Valentine’s Day and will run for 8-weeks. Group medical visits are a unique opportunity for patients to do a “deep dive” into every aspect of chronic pain – from nutrition to mindfulness and stress management, to breathing, movement, and rest practices, patients have the support of both the medical team and the other patients in the group to help them uncover a new way of taking charge of their health and well-being. Easing Pain Holistically: Emotions and Chronic Pain is unique in that it is the first time at Hennepin that a group visit will be co-facilitated by an MD and a PhD psychologist. Group visits are billed to insurance the same way an individual visit would be billed. If interested, email [email protected] for more info.

While the funding from the state will end this summer, we’ve been gifted with additional funds from the Minnesota Visiting Nurses Association (MVNA) to expand the HoW program. Planning is underway to bring our Easing Pain Holistically Group Visits directly to community housing around Hennepin County and to pilot an Integrative Home Palliative Care program. As the HoW program grows, our hope is to foster deep societal transformation within our community. Not just improving access to whole-person, integrative care, but seeing how prevention and wellbeing-focused care can rebalance the inequities and disparities within the fabric of our community. Leveraging the power of the interconnections between our thoughts, our feelings, our environment, our history, and our lifestyle to create a healthier and more equitable world.

The HHS HoW team includes: Charlotte Alvarez, LAc, Jessica Brown, LAc, Natalie Giacomini, DC, Sue Haddow, MD, Catherine Justice, DPT, Tracie Kapaun, Cass McLaughlin, Arti Prasad, MD, Rick Printon, DC, Kate Shafto, MD, Mia Twedt, and Ghazala Usman, DC

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