Doctor’s orders

A group of independent medical practitioners are pooling their resources and their talents to create a new kind of clinic in Menomonee Falls that will not be affiliated with any of the local hospitals. The new clinic, which has not yet been named, will offer a wide range of both traditional and non-traditional health care services under the same roof. The practitioners will work in a collaborative and more efficient way to treat their patients, rather than the traditional approach of segmented physicians, according to Dr. Victoria Mondloch, who will bring her obstetrics and gynecology practice and serve as the administrator of the clinic.
By emphasizing wellness and preventative medicine, the practitioners of the new clinic hope to improve the health of the community and therefore help lower health care costs in southeastern Wisconsin by reducing the utilization of health care services.
"We are trying to achieve a paradigm shift," Mondloch said. "We’re not going to do it in an in-your-face-way. We are determined to do this right."
The clinic will differ from mainstream health care approaches that focus merely on treating the ailments of patients, said Bill Schacht, a business consultant for the project. Practitioners at the new clinic will treat the ailments, but their main focus will be on maximizing the health and lifestyle of those patients.
"It’s the first clinic that focuses on the patient, rather than the pathology," Schacht said.
The medical practitioners at the clinic also will conduct research in an attempt to demonstrate that a blended approach of both traditional and non-traditional health care can be just as effective, or perhaps even more effective, than providing only traditional health care.
"There is not a model like this in the country," Mondloch said. "The closest thing I have found like this is run by the Army in El Paso, Texas."
The independent, nonaffiliated clinic will consist of two, two-story buildings with a total of 135,000 square feet. The $11 million medical clinic will be built on the south side of Appleton Avenue, south of the Strong Financial Corp. headquarters and the Woodland Prime office park.
The developer for the clinic is JBK Properties of Glendale, and the architect is Eppstein Uhen Architects of Milwaukee.
Construction of the first building for the clinic will begin in August and be completed next year. About 90% of the 90,000 square-foot building already is pre-leased. Construction for the second, 45,000 square-foot building, is expected to begin no later than early 2005.
Some health care providers in the Milwaukee area offer non-traditional, also known as complementary, health care services, in addition to traditional care. For example, Aurora Health Care provides massage therapy, chiropractic care and acupuncture at Aurora Centers for Well Being at Aurora Medical Center in Waukesha, Aurora Wiselives Center in Wauwatosa and Aurora Rehabilitation Center in West Bend. Traditional health care services also are provided at those facilities.
Covenant Health Care has three centers for complementary medicine, located in Mequon, Wauwatosa and Waukesha. Patients can receive acupuncture, massage therapy, nutrition, energy medicine, holistic lifestyle coaching and chiropractic treatments at the centers. Traditional health care services are offered at other Covenant facilities. A traditional physician oversees the Covenant centers for complementary medicine.
Combining traditional health care services with non-traditional services, "is really not that unique," said Nancy Conway, director of complementary medicine for Aurora Health Care. "It’s not completely novel as a concept."
However, the Menomonee Falls clinic planned by Mondloch will have a wider array of non-traditional health care services than other clinics in the market.
About 25 to 30 medical practitioners are expected to occupy the first building of the clinic, Mondloch said. The second building will be used for research, ambulatory surgery and teaching clinics.
The medical practitioners who have committed to work in the clinic or have expressed strong interest in working there are a mix of physicians and non-physicians. Their specialties include pediatrics, skin care, Ob/Gyn, colorectal, cardiology, radiology, acupuncture, chiropractic, reiki, herbal medicine and massage therapy.
The Menomonee Falls clinic also will have a nutritionist, an exercise facility, a compounding pharmacy and a healing garden.
"I think what’s different (about the Menomonee Falls clinic) is the size and scope of it," said Maggie Jacobus, spokeswoman for the Covenant Center for Complementary Medicine.
"Other organizations have components of this, but nobody has pulled it together under one roof," Schacht said.
Instead of just counting pills sent by huge drug companies, the compounding pharmacy at the clinic also will be able to create prescriptions suited to the specific needs of a patient.
Some patients, such as elderly people or people with allergies, cannot handle the dosages of the medication they receive at a typical pharmacy and need medication for their specific characteristics, Mondloch said.
Kurisu International of Portland, Ore. will design the healing garden at the new clinic. The garden will provide a soothing setting for patients trying to cope with the anxiety of needing medical attention. Part of the healing garden will be inside the clinic, and part of it will be on the outside.
"To walk into a medical environment can be extremely stressful," Mondloch said. "Health care is not just the medicine you take but also the environment you surround yourself with internally and externally. We need that total environment to be at peace and equilibrium with who we are."
One reason many medical clinics do not have non-traditional medicial practitioners is because those services often are not typically covered by health insurance, Mondloch said. However, some insurance companies are beginning to cover more non-traditional medical treatments.
Another reason many medical clinics do not have non-traditional medicine practitioners is the stigmatism that still exists with some in the medical community for non-traditional forms of medicine, Mondloch said. Some physicians scoff at non-traditional approaches to health care, and some patients who seek such care on their own are embarrassed to tell their primary care physician about it, she said.
"Traditional medicine does some great things for a lot of people," Mondloch said. "But there is a percentage of the population who actually might be best served by a blend of traditional and non-traditional."
"(Complementary health care) comes into play with vague, multi-symptom cases," Jacobus said. "Western medicine doesn’t know what to do with that. They do not treat that well."
Non-traditional health care methods are becoming more accepted in the medical community, Conway and Jacobus said. Health care providers are recognizing that much of the public is embracing non-traditional health care and is often consuming those services out-of-pocket. As a result, more health care providers are adding complementary medical services.
"This is a consumer-driven trend," Jacobus said. "The public is certainly more understanding of, accepting of and is seeking out these types of therapies. Health care companies are picking up on that."
"These are services that are valued by the patient, and they value them in the healing process," Conway said.
A common concern some physicians have with non-traditional medicine is the use of herbal medications, said Catherine Slota-Varma, a pediatrician and a member of the Wisconsin Medical Society Board of Directors.
"They aren’t regulated," she said. "When doctors talk about their concerns with (non-traditional medicine), it’s usually about herbal medication."
Increasing numbers of health care providers are offering some forms of non-traditional health care, Slota-Verma said.
"More and more practitioners are going to think about this," she said. "Some of the things about alternative medicine are helpful in some instances."
However, some doctors still dismiss alternative forms of medicine because there is not research to support they are effective.
The practitioners at the clinic will conduct research of their blended approach in an attempt to demonstrate it is just as effective, if not more-so, than strictly traditional medical care, Mondloch said.
"We need more data to say this approach works or doesn’t work," Slota-Varma said. "If they do research on it, that’s a good thing."
The medical practitioners who will work in the clinic are like-minded individuals who believe in informing their patients about all types of available treatments, both traditional and non-traditional, to solve health problems, Mondloch said. The practitioners will work together to make sure a patient receives all of the needed care and will at times suggest non-traditional forms of medicine a patient may otherwise not have been aware of.
Too often, patients are told they need to solve a problem, such as losing weight, but are given little or no direction in how to do so, Mondloch said. The new clinic will guide patients through the process of improving their health, she said.
"Everyone understands that a collaborative effort is going to take care of the patient," she said. "This is a clinic style that will bring that emphasis on the patient back."
The medical practitioners in the clinic also will emphasize the education of their own patients. The practitioners will take the time to explain to patients the details of their medical conditions and how their conditions have improved or regressed, Mondloch said.
For example, many doctors take a patient’s blood pressure but fail to explain what the measurement means and how the patient can improve the condition, Mondloch said.
The practitioners at the clinic will take the time to have a dialog with patients about their lifestyles and how they can make progress toward living healthier, she said.
Mondloch said practitioners who educate their patients empower them to examine their lifestyles and take steps to improve them.
"That’s huge," she said.
Some of the medical practitioners who will work at the clinic will be moving there from other locations. Others will use the clinic as a second or third site to treat their patients.
The clinic also will likely receive some patients from a 300-unit senior housing development that will be built by Horizon Development Group LLC of Milwaukee on 300 acres to the south of the clinic site.
"The proximity to senior housing is deliberate," Mondloch said.
Mondloch said the clinic will compete with others in the market, many run by large corporations.
Mondloch said she is worried about that competition, but she also believes strongly that the unique approach will provide an edge for her clinic in the market.
"I think the big clinics might also be concerned that what we offer is something they don’t offer," she said.
Other health care providers say patients will benefit from the increased competition.
"I think it’s a good thing," Jacobus said. "It’s a healthy thing. It’s important for consumers to have a lot of options."
Insurance companies that cover patients of the medical practitioners coming to the clinic are expected to continue doing so after they move there, Mondloch said. The new practitioners will work with insurance companies to eliminate holes in which an insurance company covers some, but not all, of the practitioners in the clinic.
Mondloch said she and the other medical practitioners who are starting the clinic hope to create something special that makes patients better informed about how to take care of themselves and more aware and open to non-traditional forms of medicine.

Feb. 20, 2004 Small Business Times, Milwaukee

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