Fourth of a series on integrative healing in the Twin Cities

Woodwinds Health Campus is the brainchild of the HealthEast Care System organization. It is an 86-bed, full-service, acute-care community hospital that opened its doors in August of 2000 as an unprecedented healing environment that blends the best of traditional allopathic medicine supported by natural approaches to wellness and health through integrative services.

Woodwinds was just named one of the top 100 hospitals in the United States – one of only four hospitals in Minnesota to receive the honor – according to a new national ranking by Thomson Reuters. The 100 Top Hospitals: National Benchmarks award is based on objective statistical performance measurement. Woodwinds’ ability to provide great value through highly reliable and efficient clinical care, high quality, patient safety, patient satisfaction, operational efficiency, financial efficiency and service to the entire community. Woodwinds was one of 20 health centers honored in the small community hospital category. Also receiving this award in Minnesota are Mayo Clinic, St. Cloud and Buffalo Hospitals.

Val Lincoln, Integrative Services Leader at Woodwinds for nine years, expresses delight at being involved in this evolutionary model of medical care. She has a passion for holistic nursing and a career path in which she has been instrumental in the development of the holistic nursing model both at Woodwinds and nationwide. In fact, she was one of the first registered nurses to be certified in holistic nursing in the country.

Under her guidance, more than 400 nurses in the HealthEast system have been trained in the holistic model, which recognizes the importance of body, mind and spirit in the healing process.

“We refer to this as integrative health, not medicine, which is more inclusive,” Lincoln says. “When HealthEast was planning this small community hospital, they asked focus groups what kind of services they would like to see, and very clearly the response was, ‘We want access to integrative services.’ That became the guiding principle of Woodwinds.”

Healing arts therapies at Woodwinds are designed to enhance the patient’s healing and recovery, and include the following: acupressure, acupuncture, energy-based therapies, essential oils, guided imagery, healing music and massage.

“We are a learning lab for the greater HealthEast system,” Lincoln says of the Woodwinds campus. “They look to us to be an innovative and unique health resource. What we are finding is that there is a natural dissemination curve – the holistic nursing model utilizing healing arts therapies is rolling out within the other HealthEast hospitals.”

This movement is happening department by department, as the staff begins to identify applications within their own areas. Val recalls receiving a call from the radiology department wanting to know more about the healing arts therapies.

“I thought I would just talk about the impact of healing music, and then one of the people asked about using essential oils and I was surprised,” Lincoln says.

She describes the culture at Woodwinds as “pragmatic realism.”

“Does it seem to be safe? Is there something in the clinical literature that shows benefit to the patients? Let’s try it and analyze the outcomes to see if it helps.”

Woodwinds Health Campus is unique in its approach to community. “We are a site, by design, that is part of the fabric of the community, where people come for gatherings, meetings, events and seminars,” Lincoln says. “You will find groups like Alcoholics Anonymous, young moms and their children, Bible study, etc., using the facility.”

One of its greatest assets is the Resource Center, where a patient or any community member can research medical topics. Lincoln says the staffed center “is sort of a paradoxical opposite” from traditional medical library, as 80 percent of its holdings relate to holistic approaches. But the wealth of traditional medical journals and resources also are available, with the campus being part of the HealthEast system.

The health campus also is impacting the community through wellness initiatives that are forming with local corporations. Woodwinds is partnering with Kowalski’s, 3M and Medtronic, to name a few. In fact, Medtronic is creating an Integrative Health Council and invited Woodwinds to hold a healing harp seminar at its facility.

What are the challenges facing the expansion of integrative health care? Lincoln says it is all about the resources.

“You have to demonstrate economic and clinical efficacy in order to make the boardroom case for increasing employed positions of different kinds of health-care practitioners,” she says. “How you get the resources is to provide the services so that you can determine if they will be cost effective – the chicken and the egg – you have to do it in order to evaluate it.”

To get the ball rolling, Woodwinds adopted a Healing Arts Therapy Registry to support evidence-based analysis and to support clinical research. Leaders also garnered the support of HealthEast benefits to include licensed acupuncture services as an employee benefit.

“Just this morning,” Lincoln said, “the employee health department contacted the acupuncturist to ask if they could help an employee. They did the acupuncture and the problem dissipated. It’s a great example of why you look at preventative and early intervential use of healing arts therapies. This type of service can have a dollar amount associated with it.”

Woodwinds Health Campus is part of a forward-thinking holistic community in the Twin Cities, including as well the Mayo Health Systems.

“All are very open and generous with each other,” Lincoln says. “We all believe – and would you not want your holistic people to believe this – that as one succeeds, we will all succeed,” she says. “So let’s help each other out. Even though the cultures and models may differ, we still have things in common.”

Woodwinds Health Campus is located at 1925 Woodwinds Dr., in Woodbury, MN. To learn more about services offered and how to support you healing process, go to www.healtheast.org.


Next month: An in-depth look at Regions Hospital/Health Partners

Pam Olson is a recent graduate of the Master of Arts in Holistic Health Studies program at Saint Catherine University. She has a long history of interest in metaphysical studies and actually worked with The Edge in 2001 on the first Expo at the Minneapolis Convention Center. She is trained in Healing Touch, Reiki and Magnified Healing energy-based therapies and has her own practice in Burnsville, MN. She can be reached at psolson@hotmail.com.

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