You know, we’ve been feeling really inspired lately by all the admirable yoga organizations and teachers who’ve made it their work to help people with chronic illness. It’s like every time we turn around there’s a new class or org. springing up for cancer survivors. And that’s a good thing, Martha. How can we be cranky when people are doing such great things in the world? Is this the start to a revolution in health care? We’d like to believe it, but sadly these days (and every day really) it all comes down to the bottom line. How much will it cost? How much will it save? (will it be subsidized?)
Donna Karan’s amazing donation of $850,000 to start a holistic yoga therapy program at NY’s Beth Israel Hospital has had lots of positive attention and results; while physical transformation of the oncology ward is still on the agenda for completion next month, 86 patients have already been treated to therapeutic yoga sessions by the project’s staff, who spend 6 hours a day in the ward. Simple measures like placing a pillow between a patient’s legs or encouraging awareness of the breath have made a huge impact on alleviating the suffering from cancer. So what’s the issue, why not incorporate the programs in every hospital across the land, STAT!
Well let’s get down to the nuts and bolts, and by nuts and bolts we mean the dollar bills y’all. Are holistic nurses actually saving hospitals money? Dr. Woodson Merrell, Chairman of the department of integrative medicine at Beth Israel, says, “Cost saving is what I’m really excited about, because that’s going to be a real change agent, and particularly in this time of global recession when nobody has money to spend on anything.” Yes, no one has any money! Cost saving is very exciting! So ok we get it, patients are improving with yoga and that translates into lower overall treatment costs per patient, which means less money poured into the pharmaceutical industry, which means less money for insurance companies, which means… which means this is never going to happen! All right, it’s still too early to tell. Perhaps we should be more optimistic with Superhero of Hope in the office.
The program at Beth Israel is, for now, only a 1-year experiment. If it’s successful, and clearly we mean for the patients and for the pocketbook (there’s actually a research component measuring cost savings), there’s a glimmer it will live on and, best case, encourage more hospitals to integrate a similar holistic approach. *And struggling yoga teachers, this could be great news for you – more jobs! Of course, that is until hospitals figure out that another way to cut costs is to train in-house nurses and doctors on yoga methods. sigh. We knew we shoulda listened to mom and gone to med school. At least we won’t be encountering that problem in prison yoga any time soon, right?
Anyway, for now we’re just wondering where all the other down dog millionaires are blowing their pocket change. Jennifer Aniston? You’ve sure got plenty of time on your hands. Russell Simmons? We’re looking at you.
What d’yall think? Anyone have firsthand experience teaching/working in hospitals or as a patient?
Thanks to elephantbeans for the video heads up.
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