By Linda Stein
@lsteinreporter on Twitter
RADNOR >> A new health center specializing in integrative medicine will open its doors in Villanova this fall.
Thomas Jefferson University and Hospitals received a $14 million grant from The Marcus Foundation Inc., which will be used to open the Marcus Integrative Health at Myrna Brind Center Villanova.
“At Jefferson, we are committed to reimagining healthcare, education and discovery to create unparalleled value,” said Dr. Stephen K. Klasko, president and CEO of Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health System. “Thanks to the generosity and vision of Bernie Marcus and The Marcus Foundation, this new integrative health center will bring the best of all worlds—integrative, global and traditional health—to patients in the greater Philadelphia area and beyond.”
The foundation chose Jefferson “because of our shared vision for the future of medicine,” said Bernie Marcus, co-founder of the Home Depot and chairman of the Marcus Foundation. “Jefferson is on the forefront of innovating integrative medicine, a transformation I want to be part of.”
Klasko said Marcus’ goal “is to have this be the best of both worlds, a center taking global medicine and traditional medicine and looking at research, anything from cancer to Alzheimer’s.” Many medical centers are either traditional medicine or alternative medicine, he said. “We’re both. We’re looking at what other countries around the world do.”
“A lot of my history has been trying to bring in global medicine into traditional medicine,” said Klasko. “It will be the best of both worlds. Mr. Marcus was thrilled (that) there was the president of the university he didn’t have to convince.
He said, ‘My dream was to find a place with a reputation like Jefferson’s to do something like this.”
Dr. Daniel Monti, professor and director of the Myrna Brind Center of Integrative Medicine at Jefferson, called the satellite location “very exciting.”
“We have been wanting to broaden our geographic reach so more people can access the kind of health care model we’ve developed over the last 10 years,” Monti said. Monti expects that Jefferson will open other locations for integrative medicine in the Philadelphia region and “at some point nationally.”
“I think it’s a shared vision of the Marcus Foundation,” said Monti. “They’ve been very generous giving us the jumpstart to this satellite.”
Integrative medicine is a holistic approach that combines conventional, modern medicine with various other therapies, such as acupuncture or nutrient infusion programs.
The Marcus Foundation grant allows the new center to purchase a PET-MR (Positron Emission Tomography-Magnetic Resonance) device. This technology combines an MRI with molecular imaging to give a complete picture with precise alignment of anatomy and metabolic activity without radiation.
There are only 30 of these machines in the U.S., with the closest one to this area in New York.
“There’s limited radiation versus the traditional machine, the PET CT,” said Monti.
The PET-MR costs $4.5 million with an additional $1 million to outfit the room needed for it, he said.
The scan will be used not just by the new center but also members of the public, who are prescribed the test by their doctors. Patients who need both tests can have one examination instead of two.
“People will be able to come to the Villanova site to get their imaging,” said Monti.
Klasko called the PET-MR “a very unique imaging tool, giving three dimensional imaging of organs like the brain. It’s all being funded by Mr. Marcus.”
Monti called “holistic” a good way to describe the multidisciplinary care that extends the boundaries of conventional modern medicine.
“This is really taking a total systems approach, guided by modern medicine,” said Monti. For example, the center’s executive health program “aims to help folks function better, think better and live better,” he said.
Integrative health care “applies to a broad range of patients,” he said. Those with chronic illnesses and cancer can benefit. There is a lot of testing and vetting of treatments that are used to “assess whether what we’re doing provides an advantage,” he said.
Many different kinds of therapists will practice there including, nutritionists, acupuncture, traditional Chinese medicine, vitamin therapy, Klasko said.
Meanwhile, Jefferson doctors will travel back and forth from the Center City Philadelphia location to the Villanova office, including Monti, who said he plans to take the train and walk over. He pointed out that the location will be very convenient for many area patients since it is new I-476, the Blue Route. Eventually, Monti believes there will be teams of doctors primarily based in both locations.
Ira Brind, a Jefferson trustee, said his late wife Myrna, for whom the center is named, said his wife had “believed that healing is an art; the soul heals and science cures,” said Ira Brind, Jefferson Trustee. “Integrative medicine is the intersection of these ideals, which is why I am excited to help Jefferson expand the innovative and empathetic care of the Jefferson-Myrna Brind Center of Integrative Medicine to our new site in Villanova.”
The Myrna Brind Center is “one of the leaders in the country” for integrative medicine, said Klasko.
Klasko said the Villanova location is “a great spot” with easy access for “folks from the suburbs and the tristate area.”
“Jefferson has the opportunity to be the glue to get as many patients as possible,” Klasko said. “We want to bring Jefferson care to the community so people can get the absolute top care on the Main Line.” Jefferson is already partnering with Main Line Health in some areas and recently announced a merger with Abington Health.
“The great news is we’re looking at a lot of ways to expand the Jefferson- Main Line health partnership,” said Klasko.
“I couldn’t be more excited about it,” said Klasko. “It’s going to be great.”