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Integrative Health

Premiering at the Garden of the Gods Resort and Club

Body composition analysis is offered using the BodPod Gold Standard system.

Body composition analysis is offered using the BodPod Gold Standard system.

Today’s health seekers have plenty of options. Many rely on traditional MDs, specialists and hospitals. Or consult with a complementary, functional or Eastern medicine provider. Still others explore preventative wellness, nutrition or fitness programs. So many choices...  

The good news: Finding the best treatment and healthy lifestyle options here in the Pikes Peak region just got easier. Through Integrative Medicine, physicians are able to coordinate all aspects of a patient’s care through both traditional medicine and wellness alternatives. 

Organizations including the American Board of Physician Specialties report that Integrative Medicine has been increasingly embraced by its members. The ABPS points out that by combining the best of traditional and nontraditional medicine, doctors are able to explore all types of options and provide the best care. This may mean physicians aren’t quite as quick to prescribe medication or invasive treatments. And more providers are examining environmental or lifestyle factors that may potentially affect an individual’s health. Even the Mayo Clinic has weighed in on Integrative care, noting “Ideally the various forms of treatments you select should work together with the care of your conventional doctor.”

That shift in focus and evolution of health care impressed Colorado Springs cardiologist Michael Barber. The veteran M.D, who for more than 25 years served as Director of Electrophysiology and Pacemaker Services for Centura Health-Penrose-St. Francis Hospitals and as Medical Director for the Vascular Center of Colorado, has witnessed firsthand the potential value of complementary as well as traditional treatment. As a result in 2014 he joined the Strata Integrated Wellness Spa team as Director of Medical and Cardiovascular Services. 

Barber says the decision was a natural one. “My background was traditional, hard-ass medical training. Throughout my life, I’ve always had a passion for the heart and heart health,” he says. At the same time, he was usually conservative when it came to prescriptions or aggressive procedures. “I realize today that if my patients had known about or incorporated good nutrition or wellness practices 10 or 15 years earlier, maybe they could have avoided the worst.” He is joined at Strata – located at the Garden of the Gods Resort and Spa -- by Robert Blaich, D.C, Shane Wells, D.C, Karly Powell, N.D. , Ron Apgar, LPC, CEAP, registered dietician Charlene Wang, Fitness and Lifestyle director Tracy Iverson and a team of health and wellness professionals. “We work as a team and promote patient engagement,” he says.

Treatments offered span the complementary and traditional medical spectrums. They include everything from traditional executive physicals and individualized nutrition weight loss or food sensitivity programs to neuro-receptor joint pain and spine therapy, chiropractic services, acupuncture, correction of imbalances in the body to reverse disease, intravenous fluid and electrolyte replacement, therapeutic massage and more. 

That collaborative focus on the patient is earning the Strata Integrated Wellness Spa visibility throughout the Pikes Peak region and beyond. Outreach programs have included luncheon presentations, wellness seminars and individual invitations to explore the center’s many programs. Messaging focuses on complete physical, mental, and social well-being -- not just on the absence of disease or infirmity. 

Here in Colorado Springs, Strata’s services are delivered alongside the Spa’s beauty, relaxation and fitness programs -- all in a scenic setting. The operation’s location atop the mesa, overlooking Kissing Camels seems somehow tied to the park’s rich history. The immense sandstone rock formations, for example, were once considered a sacred, healing ground by nomadic Native American tribes. Legend suggests that even rival tribes laid down their weapons when entering the Garden of the Gods. 

In that spirit, Barber plans to build Strata’s healthy lifestyle services around three key components: medicine, mindfulness and functional care. “During my Leadership post-grad studies at Duke University years ago, I actually researched Integrative Medicine but didn’t fully understand its power. Now I see how effective the addition of chiropractic, naturopathy and good nutrition – or even Rolfing and cupping can be.” 

Open to the public, locals curious about Integrated Medicine are taking advantage of the Spa’s many programs. Kissing Camels resident and former RN Susan Mollner wanted to learn more – and was open to adding alternatives to her doctor’s traditional treatment. “I was invited to come for a consultation and ended up having blood work done. Unlike the usual labs that just check for cholesterol, they tested for different enzyme and vitamin levels. The approach was out of my wheelhouse, but I respected their findings. The two visits I had were more about preventive measures than acute care – and my husband also ended up scheduling an appointment,” she says.

“There’s nothing quite like it,” Barber says of the innovative Strata model. “When it comes to health, I think of that popular quote, “The mind is like a parachute. It doesn’t work if it’s not open.” 

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