You might expect your health care provider to recommend taking aspirin if you experience semi-regular headaches with no identifiable cause. But at Emory Healthcare, many of our primary care providers (PCPs) offer a more specialized type of care—holistic health care. They’ll talk to you about your day-to-day life and offer tips to help keep you well and headache-free—things like sleeping at least seven hours a night, eating a more healthful diet and taking some “me time” to relax and unwind every day.
Holistic Health Care Is Whole Person Care
Holistic health care focuses on your body, mind and spirit. It’s based on the belief that your body alone doesn’t determine your physical health and wellness. It’s the interaction between the physical, mental and emotional components of your life that does. Spirituality can also come into play, whether that involves your religion or simply your values, beliefs or understanding of the meaning of life. If any one of these components is out of balance, it can take a toll on your health.
PCPs who provide holistic health care focus on all aspects of your life. They give attention to your lifestyle and behaviors, environment, social circumstances and what’s most important to you. This wide focus helps them provide “whole person” care that’s personalized for you.
“Mind, body and spirit are all tied together, and I want to address all these areas to give you the best care,” says Sharon Morris, MD, an internist with Emory at Cumming—Family Practice. “The practice of medicine isn’t just a science; it’s an art. I am curious about my patients’ lives, and I want to understand their challenges. I want them to know I care about them as a person and not just as a disease.”
The Mind-Body Connection
The effects of the mind on the body are significant. Stress, for example, can raise your blood pressure and blood sugar levels, increase feelings of pain and disturb sleep, all while wreaking havoc with your emotions.
On the other hand, meditation or mindfulness may help you cope with stress. According to the American Psychological Association, mindfulness may lessen feelings of pain, reduce depression and even boost your immune system. Some evidence even suggests meditation can help you manage symptoms of conditions including asthma and irritable bowel syndrome.
A provider who keeps holistic health care in mind offers all the services you’d expect from a PCP:
- Diagnosis and treatment of acute conditions like influenza and sprained ankles
- Education on wellness and healthy living
- Management of chronic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes
- Preventive care, such as immunizations and health screenings
- Referrals to Emory Healthcare’s extensive network of specialists
But when providing these services, a PCP with a special interest in holistic health care will also consider your mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing, in addition to your physical health. They’ll learn about you and your life, offer self-care tips tailored to your unique situation and help you use the mind-body connection to promote maximum wellness.
“I enjoy hearing about my patients’ backgrounds, their cultures and lifestyles,” says Jodi-Ann Heath, MD, a family medicine physician with Emory at Snellville – Primary Care (Lenora Church Road). “From the very first visit, I want to start connecting with them and building a relationship.”
Achieving Better Outcomes
Holistic, or whole person, health is gaining increasing attention nationwide. If you’re interested in receiving this type of care at Emory, you’ll find many PCPs who make holistic health care part of their practice. It may be exactly the care you need to feel and function your best.
“Family medicine allows me to do what I love to do, which is treat the whole person,” says Natalia Pineda, MD, a PCP with Emory at Dunwoody – Family Practice. “I want to learn about the issues affecting my patients’ health, educate them about their options and then develop care plans that work for their unique situations. Listening to my patients and understanding their day-to-day lives helps us achieve better outcomes together.”
A Provider Who’s Right for You
Emory Healthcare offers a wide range of primary care services. With the variety of backgrounds, interests and experiences our providers have, you’re sure to find one who’s a good match for you.