Integrative Medicine Blog

A Grateful Farewell

Heidi S. Puc M.D., FACP, ABIHM Saturday, March 10, 2018
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Dr. Puc's last day at the Stram Center will be March 30, 2018. Here is her farewell to the Stram family.

I have always been in awe of the practice of medicine, and as a doctor both in training and practice, have never taken for granted the sacredness of the doctor-patient relationship. It is rare that patients see us when they are feeling balanced and well; usually, they are ill, distraught, and vulnerable, and look to a practitioner for solutions to achieve well-being. It is so important for doctors and other providers to listen to the patient’s story, build trust, feel empathy, and show compassion while at the same time be meticulous in piecing together where the “breakdown” in health has occurred, a true detective-work to solve a mystery. When we listen carefully, clues to that mystery may become clear.

My idealistic views during medical school on how this therapeutic relationship should unfold were deflated by experiencing the “machine” the practice of medicine has become, ruled by time constraints, financial restrictions, patient volume, and overspecialization and hence fragmentation of care, with barriers to good communication with other practitioners regarding a patient’s care, imposed by those very realities. As I progressed in my training and in my career as a conventional hematologist/oncologist, I witnessed escalating physician dissatisfaction, burnout, and suicide, and rising patient discontent and frustration with our medical system. All this, in the setting of rising healthcare costs, with no improved outcomes compared with other countries spending far less on medical care. Although we are becoming more and more sophisticated with new pharmaceuticals and new technologies, many, both practitioners and patients, are becoming more disillusioned and frustrated, and are feeling more unwell and unbalanced. We desperately want wellness and disease prevention, but our medical system has limited resources to provide this.

I believe that we as physicians/providers and patients need to think beyond the set paradigm, and recover ancient healing modalities and use them to work alongside conventional means. I believe that nature provides us with what we need for our vitality, if we only allow it to be a part of our “toolbox” of remedies for disease. I believe we need to emphasize the importance of clean water, healthy food, green environments, supportive friends, family and community, and good psychological support, to foster healing, whether or not that leads to curing of disease. This is why I believe in integrative medicine, as it provides the fertile ground to facilitate what conventional medicine is currently unable to do.

When I left my conventional practice at HOACNY in Syracuse in 2015 to join The Stram Center, I followed my “calling,” my passion for a more holistic approach to practicing medicine. I broadened my knowledge of integrative oncology and learned about the true epidemic of chronic Lyme disease and the coinfectors, and about approaches to treatment. I worked with wonderful colleagues and staff at The Stram Center who have a similar yearning to improve the practice of medicine, and I remain most grateful and honored to have been a part of this practice. I met beautiful patients, and in every doctor-patient partnership gained some precious gift of new knowledge or a new experience, and remain in awe of having been a part of their personal journeys.

I have always felt myself to be a spiritual being, having this human experience; and both in my career and in my personal life, I am constantly pushed by my “soul” or inner knowingness, into a certain direction (and many times with the humanness of me going forward, kicking and screaming!). I am now again at another turning point in my life, venturing out on my own, to serve yet more people, in my hometown in the Syracuse area.

My last day at The Stram Center will be March 30, 2018. My new practice, Integrative Medicine of Central New York, PC, is targeted to open by late summer of this year in the Syracuse area, where I will focus on integrative oncology, management of Lyme disease, and general integrative medicine with a focus on wellness and prevention. Look for my upcoming website for updates on IMCNY’s creation, growth, and how to reach me for consultations and care.

I am extremely excited about this new chapter of my life, and look forward to being a spark in the light of change needed in how medicine is practiced. As civil rights activist John Lewis said, “if not us, then who?”

Wishing you all peace, love, health, and blessings, always. –Heidi S. Puc, MD, FACP, ABIHM.