The Times - Serving Waitsburg, Dayton and the Touchet Valley

By Vicki Zoller

Dayton General Hospital grows integrated health services

Healing therapies address the body, mind and spirit


Vicki Zoller

Dayton General Hospital integrative health staff. (Front l to r): Kylie Hardmeyer, Denise Lane, Kaylene Christensen, Christine Richards, Emily Smith (MIddle l to r): Bryce Scott, Sara Lawrence, Loretta Hatfield, Jessica Parry, Sonya Taylor, Britta Schwarz (Back l to r): Team leader Michael Schwarz, Heather Hays, Zach Zehner, Curtis Brummett

DAYTON-Integrated Healthcare or Coordinated Care may not be a term widely known to patients, but within the healthcare community these are powerful words attached to positive actions. Integrative healthcare is the combining of modalities or methods of treatment that address the overall health needs of patients. The definition of the word integrate explains it well; combine (one thing) with an- other so that they become a whole. Dayton General Hospital (DGH) is an integrated healthcare provider. This means that whether a patient needs primary care, acute care, or specialty care, their experience will feel seamless and productive. Creating coordination between multiple departments and disciplines is something that DGH has been developing for some time.

With the addition of less traditional healers (massage, acupuncture, tuning fork therapy) alongside the more well- known members of modern medicine (doctors, nurse practitioners, physical and occupational therapy, speech ther- apy, behavioral health), patients are receiving care that addresses all their needs. A recent morning spent in the Physical Therapy wing of DGH provided a snapshot of how our local hospital is creating an integrative healthcare system that is not often seen in rural communities.

Physical Therapy

Michael Schwartz is the director of the Physical Therapy department and motivator for building an integrative system of patient care. His own expe- riences as a pain patient have played a part in understanding the need for access to multiple resources as part of gaining back overall health.

Schwartz has been a physical therapist since graduating from Loma Linda University in 2001. His job has taken him to many different facilities, both large and small, and he is proud to say that DGH can compete right alongside larger cities when it comes to integrative care.

For physical therapy to be most ef- fective, other issues that a patient is experiencing also needed to be ad- dressed. Since the body itself is an integrated system, it only makes sense that treatments should also be integrative. Providing access to other methods of wellness, addressing the whole body and looking at healing from the holistic perspective gives the patient a broader opportunity of healing. With a multi-focus plan in place for patients there are also multiple eyes and ears in place as well; a coordinated care package that can bring more positive outcomes.

DGH has a very active physical thera- py department. Patients use machines and guided exercise to rebuild mobility and strength. They work with speech and occupational therapist and there is also access to massage and acupuncture therapy and tuning fork therapy.

Kaylene Christensen is a traveling physical therapist that has been with DGH since April. She brings special and unique skill set that she shares with the other physical therapists called tuning fork therapy. This treatment uses variously tuned forks with different frequencies to create vibrations that help relax muscles, calm the nervous system and brain, and reduce inflammation and pain.

The tuning fork is struck with a rubber mallet and then placed gently on the patient in selected areas. The vi- brational tones can be felt and heard. Physical therapists use the tuning forks both before and after a physical therapy session to improve mobility. The forks are also tuned to our brain waves, gamma to delta, the most active to the quietest. These tones help calm brain waves, reducing stress and anxiety, allowing the patient to get the most benefit from the physical therapy session. Christensen has used them for over a year and sees the help and enjoyment patients receive. They are used as part of a prescribed physical therapy session and need no other referral from a doctor.


Chris Richards, massage therapist, has been a massage therapist for 15 years and at DGH for about a year and half. She trained in Richland at Ancient Arts where she received 1000 hours of training. Her workspace at the hospital

exudes a calm and safe feeling, a sub- tle scent of lemongrass fills the room. Chris sees the benefit of an integrative system of patient care and how mas- sage therapy can help relieve pain and stress. When a patient has tight mus- cles, massage can loosen those areas allowing for better stretching and in- creased movement. Massage therapy can also reduce anxiety and pain which in turn helps with healing and rebuild-

ing. Massage is far more than a spa-day experience of oils and hot stones. It is a true component of the overall healing process. Appointments with Richard- son can be booked through the hospital and many insurance companies do have coverage for this treatment.

Richardson also provides services for seniors at Booker Rest Home. She visits them and gives gentle hand, arm, shoulder and neck massages. She says that many of the residents look forward to her coming by and appreciate her special touch.


Acupuncture Therapist Denise Lane has a 3200-hour Master of Acupuncture degree from Oregon College of Oriental Medicine and has been practicing since 2009. She is licensed both in Washington State and nationally and is required to complete 15 units of continuing education each year.

This professionalism is tied to the compassion that Lane has for patients that are experiencing pain, both phys- ically and mentally. She has seen the benefits that acupuncture provides in balancing the body systems such as the respiratory and circulatory systems.

Acupuncture reduces inflammation which, in turn, can reduce pain. Anxiety that comes from pain, or just from life, is also reduced by these sessions. Lane also sees the healing that could be pro- vided in recovery programs for people dealing with substance abuse disorders by helping to reduce the symptoms of withdrawal.

Acupuncture has been integrated into hospital systems for the past 10 to 20 years and now DGH is using this an- cient healing method as part of a broad and in-depth program of wellness for patients. Lane is pleased to be a part of the growing integrative treatment program and looks forward to seeing more options for well-rounded patient care.

Lane sees the benefits of combining acupuncture along-side other forms of physical therapy. If the mind and mus- cles can relax, the body can focus on rebuilding. Both Lane and Richardson hold 10-minute clinic sessions on the first Saturday of each month. The cost is just $10 and can be a good introduction to massage and acupuncture.

Mental and Behavioral Health

Chronic pain and pain management is a hot topic due to the current opioid crisis. Rarely do we hear about the correlation of mental or behavioral health in relation to chronic pain, yet more studies are linking pain, depression and anxiety together. If a person is depressed or suffering from anxiety, they may also experience chronic pain. Their physical symptoms can be linked to an emotional event or trauma that has occurred in their lives.

A person with physical conditions that create chronic pain often experiences depression and anxiety as their lifestyle and/or ability to be active or earn money changes. The lack of linking mental health with physical health can create a vicious pain cycle that a simple pill cannot fix.

Wayne Pollard, Director of Behavioral Health Integration at DGH, sees that pain cycle in patients that are experiencing PTSD, depression, complicated grief, and other mental health issues. Tying these patients into other mediums of healthcare such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, massage and acupuncture, along with behavioral therapy brings the whole patient into focus.

There are many stigmas surrounding mental health issues and the additional treatments available are often not found in stand-alone mental health clinics. Patients can become frustrated trying to get appointments at different facilities and to then get to those appointments is often another hurdle to jump.

At DGH, patients that are seen in Behavioral Health have easy access to the Physical Therapy wing, where other modalities of treatment are available. DGH becomes a 'one-stop shopping' experience for the patient. According to Schwartz, it isn't just Co- lumbia County residents that benefit. Patients from other areas are booking their therapy appointments at DGH simply because they can see each specialist in one day at one location. Schwartz has visions and plans for the future of integrative care at DGH but is extremely pleased that, in this year alone, the hospital has hired four new physical therapists, two new massage therapists and one new acupuncturist.

Schwartz also noted that the growth took voter support to build a facility that can better and more fully serve the community.


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