ANW Partners with Four Seasons
By Michele Bryan
Western North Carolina is now home to an unprecedented partnership between a hospice and an alternative health care organization. Four Seasons Hospice and Palliative Care has joined with Asheville Natural Wellness to offer complementary and alternative health modalities, such as massage, acupuncture, and music therapy, to all hospice patients.
Four Seasons Hospice was experiencing an increase in demand for complementary therapies. Mark Neville, Four Seasons’ coordinator of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM), had looked into different ways to meet these needs and encountered multiple challenges. While some hospices offer alternative therapies for free, none provided these services in a sustainable, organized manner. There was no model to follow.
While serving on a task force with the WNC Medical Society, Neville met Bill Brackney, founder of Asheville Natural Wellness (ANW), and found the solution. Their conversation immediately uncovered their shared vision for bringing alternative health services to patients at Four Seasons and, in just three months, the partnership was launched.
Asheville Natural Wellness’s primary aspect is its website which lists highly credentialed professionals providing holistic and integrative care. Brackney started this business as a way to simplify people’s search for a credible care provider within an extensive listing of alternative modalities. Each professional listed with ANW has been through a thorough vetting process, which provides assurance for consumers and reduces liability for referring conventional medical practitioners. Many of the professionals listed with ANW have the “FS” designation indicating that they work with patients at Four Seasons Hospice. These professionals are specially trained by Four Seasons to work with hospice patients wherever they reside. “In working with Asheville Natural Wellness, we know we are getting a high quality care provider for our patients and their families,” Dr. Janet Bull, Chief Medical Officer with Four Seasons shares.
Four Seasons hosted a Complementary and Alternative Medicine Fair earlier this fall to launch the relationship between their organization and ANW. The event was attended by 23 ANW professionals and 50 staff from Four Seasons where they were given an opportunity to learn about and personally experience the alternative therapies that are being offered to the hospice patients. Brandi Allison, RN and Director of Clinical Services with Four Seasons, shared, “Sometimes people don’t know what to think…I had to experience Reiki for myself before I could fully understand.” Allison also revealed that any gaps in understanding of alternative therapies are being bridged by this approach and this December several nurses on staff at Four Seasons will be taking a level-one Reiki class onsite so they can begin to provide this service. The staff will continue to have ongoing access to these alternative therapies which is seen as an educational tool and wellness support for the employees at Four Seasons.
The benefits for WNC from these organizations and their partnership extend far beyond hospice patients. ANW is raising the bar for practitioners in the area with its credentialing process and code of ethics which also creates common ground for alternative health professionals. This is additionally leading to increasing trust between alternative and traditional professionals as well as collaboration among alternative care professionals. Suzannah Tebbe-Davis, cochair of Events and Community Outreach for ANW and a somatic therapist in private practice, revealed, “Within the ANW collaborative, the professionals are experiencing community many of us have longed for. We support each other and (we) trade services, which all yields greater insights so we can educate our clients and refer them to one another.”
With this exciting partnership coming into existence, there are many hopes and dreams for those involved with how this can grow to the benefit of WNC and beyond. Allison shared, “My hope is that Medicare will come to recognize CAM and support it financially. If a hospice patient elects to stop chemotherapy and wants to use CAM for symptom management, it would be wonderful to see that covered for them financially.”
Brackney has a similar dream. He hopes education following the success of this partnership will lead to an increased demand for coverage which will garner the attention of Medicare and all insurance companies in the United States. The potential for a national impact from this local alliance appears to be very real and in the meantime, WNC will benefit from this ground breaking endeavor.