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January 10, 2005  
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Eastern Medicine Makes a Splash in Southern Vermont

By Editorial Staff

Responding to a rising demand for alternative forms of healing, the Southwestern Vermont Medical Center in Bennington has added a new Department of Integrative Therapies. Located in the center's medical office building, the department will offer a variety of treatments, including acupuncture, reiki, aromatherapy and massage.

"This has been brewing for probably five years," said Dr.

John Hearst, a family practitioner who was named the department's medical director. "It was done very slowly and thoughtfully. We did not want to rock the boat and make people uncomfortable."

"Complementary and alternative medicine is a growing area of interest for people in this country," explained Kevin Robinson, Southwestern's director of communications. "We decided that one thing we could do as a health system is offer some services in this realm."

To help learn about the services offered at the Department of Integrative Therapies, Southwestern held a meeting to brief the hospital's staff. Under the hospital's guidelines, a physician can recommend that a patient consult with one of three contracted acupuncturists. Educational programs will also be offered for physicians to find out more about the treatments, along with free 16-minute acupuncture sessions.

The department recently received a grant to study whether such therapies improve the quality of life for people with chronic lung disease. The department is also offering gift certificates to the public, so that they can experience some of the treatments for little or no charge.

To learn more about the Department of Integrative Therapies, visit, or call (802) 442-6361.


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