New York, NY, July 11, 2014 --(PR.com
)-- Leading New York City-based complementary medical practitioner Dr. Ronald Hoffman, head of the Hoffman Center in Manhattan, offers practical solutions that include a complementary medicine model for the VA hospital crisis.
From the patriotism inspired by summer holidays such as Memorial Day and Independence Day, to the outrage over the recent VA administration scandal and the trepidation caused by military unrest in areas such as Iraq and Ukraine, our troops, their actions and their needs have been on our minds and in our headlines more than ever in recent months. This week’s nomination of a new Secretary of Veterans Affairs has brought these hardworking men and women to mind again and provided an opportunity to revisit the broken system that often greets our servicemen and women when they return home.
Having done his medical residency at the Manhattan VA, Dr. Hoffman has an experienced perspective on the particular challenges faced by this system. As in all hospital settings, doctors had to contend not only with whatever physical ailments their patients may have been admitted for, but also with the realities of the mental health issues that are all too common for veterans.
“The smoking and alcoholism rates were through the roof. Nobody knew the term ‘PTSD’ back then, but we did know that the Vietnam and Korean War vets we were seeing were often plagued by serious psychological problems,” he says, continuing, “Some of the vets gamed the system by manipulating us into prescribing them powerful painkiller drugs, which they would then take to get high or sell. This sowed mistrust so that patients who had legit pain problems were often branded as maligners.”
Without proper resources for nutrition education, many of the soldiers were victims of poor diet and lifestyle choices, often developing diabetes or circulatory diseases. The high numbers of veterans living in poverty were likely to spend much of their meager means on cheap food, alcohol and cigarettes or even harder drugs. With so many in need, providing the basics of care was often a struggle. “Pressed for time and exhausted, I just tried to get my patients to take their prescription meds, which was in itself a challenge.”
Still, even beyond the hardships of patients who were not always living healthy ideals, it was obvious the system was broken. “It was not uncommon for a patient to be admitted and then waste time as an inpatient for a week or 10 days awaiting a simple CT scan or upper GI series,” commonplace testing that should have been taken care of in a much more timely fashion. “At least they gained admittance. Others languished, awaiting care. Or else they ran a bureaucratic maze in quest of the ultimate prize—a ‘service-connected disability,’ the equivalent of a golden, lifetime free pass.”
Dr. Hoffman concedes that the system has improved since his days at the VA but that there’s still a long way to go, particularly in preventive care and in incorporating more integrative medicine into the treatment of our veterans. Of the VA system, he believes, “its quandary is that of the medical system at-large: a reliance on high-tech and pharmacological ‘fixes’ for problems that are deep-seated, chronic and rooted in lifestyle.”
He continues, “Think of the dividends if diet, innovative use of nutritional supplements, exercise and mindfulness training, and complementary modalities were to be deployed in dealing with vets’ chronic disorders!”
He references specific conditions where such practices could be utilized, such as care of those who’ve suffered traumatic brain injuries, or prevention and reversal for veterans who’ve suffered hearing loss.
It seems the VA may be open to these practices, with a creation in 2011 of the position of Director of the Office of Patient Centered Care and Cultural Transformation, helmed by Dr. Tracy Gaudet of Duke Integrative Medicine. The VA has also referenced alternative therapies such as yoga, acupuncture and meditation in some of the materials it distributes to patients.
Still, there is a long way to go toward fixing this system and integrating more preventive and complementary measures into veterans’ care.
“Opportunities abound,” says Dr. Hoffman, “and through embracing alternative modalities we can convert the VA from a national shame to an exemplary model of health care for the future. Do we have the vision, courage and national resolve to demand it?”
To read the full article, and for more tips about health and wellness from Dr. Hoffman and his complementary contemporaries, visit his newly relaunched website at www.DrHoffman.com
. For more comprehensive services, you also can make an appointment at the Hoffman Center (212-779-1744) or visit the Hoffman Center Store online.