By Lisa Everett, B.Sc. Pharm, FACA, CCN
Most healthcare practitioners are born into the narrow canal of conventional medicine, and must experience a rebirth, usually through close and personal awakenings, to begin a paradigm shift to holism. And so it was with me.
It began in the 1960s, as metamorphosis did for many that decade, with an awareness and concern for natural ways to preserve the environment and, thus, our species. But it was the birth of my second child and the ensuing post-partum depression, resolving into PMS (unlabeled and untreated at that time), that quickly shifted my thoughts from survival of species to survival of self. This began as a lonely path because the first articles on these subjects had not been published in the United States. But the wonderful work of Katharina Dalton, and my friends who were a husband and wife psychiatrist team, lifted my spirits and brightened the way. I shared my successes in treating myself with natural hormones, herbs and supplements with physicians and other patients. As I later developed chronic bronchitis, asthma and cancer, I began to ask where my immune system was hiding. Again I found relief in therapeutic doses of nutraceuticals, rolfing, therapy and energy work, and was able to walk away from the antibiotics, inhalers, decongestants, mucolytics, antihistamines, asthma and cancer itself.
I began doing private consultations for hormone replacement therapy and holistic healing in 1983, even though we had been compounding natural hormones since the late 1970s. Each year my practice became more holistic, as I included nutrition, lifestyle changes, mind and spiritual counseling, and recommendations of alternative and complimentary therapies. Specializing in endocrinology, auto-immune diseases, cancer, migraines and metabolic errors, my time is now devoted solely to my consultation practice.
The consultation begins with a history of family, lab work, patient records, hormonal experiences, allergies and sensitivities, medications, supplements, diet, stress factors, spirit, exercise and some primary assessment. Then I listen, listen, listen to the concerns, wishes and goals of the patient. This is followed by an educational process that helps the individual understand the impact of the standard American diet, exercise, endocrinology, and spiritual practice on their health. Finally, recommendations are made to facilitate the healing process and enhance, evoke and empower the patient’s own abilities. In effect, giving the patient a spirit of responsibility instead of dependency. A typical consultation lasts one to three hours, and follow-up communications are handled in several ways. Refilling natural prescriptions and supplements frequenty offers an opportunity for a brief monthly conference.
Patients are encouraged to call in with questions and information, and the entire staff is competent with even fairly complex issues, often relying on each other. Lab tests are repeated as necessary, and follow-up appointments are usually one hour long.
The practice has been successful, and has permitted us to expand and add to our staff. As co-owner of O’Brien Pharmacy and the Kansas City Holistic Center with my brother, Eric Everett, RPh, CCN, we operate one of the oldest pharmacies in Kansas City, on a conservative medical campus with more than 300 specialists. Even when our father helped open the doors in 1962, we were a compounding pharmacy. The awareness and demand for our expertise in custom medications has continued to grow, and we are now the only board-certified compounding pharmacy in Kansas City. Our increasing dedication to natural supplements has dove tailed perfectly with this specialty of compounded medications.
We gradually eliminated the over-the-counter medications we felt contrary to whole health, and replaced them with supplements supportive of life. Some people have difficulty visualizing a pharmacy without alcohol, tobacco or candy, but many are shocked at our lack of the typical over-the-counter drugs like antacids and H-2 blockers, and our recommendation of natural therapies. In addition to my brother and myself, we have three more full-time pharmacists. Based on national averages, we have more than 4 times the pharmacist to prescription ratio, but this is necessary to deliver personal, premium pharmaceutical healthcare.
Also on staff is a doctor of osteopathy / registered nurse, a PhD holistic psychologist, and a PhD traditional Chinese medicine practitioner who is also a chiropractor, classic Hahnemann homeopath and licensed hypno-therapist. While more and more of my time is being taken with lecturing in my community and across the country, I still prefer the one-on-one consultations with patients and physicians. I also enjoy working with the Pharm D students as an adjunct faculty member of the University of Missouri – Kansas City School of pharmacy, and with the medical students as a faculty member of the University of Kansas School of Medicine. They seem hungry for the information both in the classroom and as they rotate through my practice. I can see the shift in knowledge and attitudes are making a difference in patient care.
The extraordinary improvement in outcomes and number of remissions and healings is humbling. The breakthroughs, whether they are spiritual, physical or emotional, are the most rewarding aspects of my practice. They fuel the extra studying necessary to stay abreast of the latest in holistic care. I love my work and am grateful to be a part of the holistic movement, and believe the success comes from placing the patient’s needs as the only priority. And thus, I am indebted to earlier sufferings, which are really only the mask worn by the experiences of learning, for they have certainly caused a renaissance of change in my beliefs. These changes have had a profoundly positive effect on myself, and I am blessed with the role of sharing them with others.