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Dr. G at the farmer's market

Dr. G at the farmer’s market

Life with a professional person, like a lawyer, doctor, or engineer, means you’ll talk about their work.

These are people who dedicate their lives to a bigger purpose. They right wrongs, cure ills, and create modern miracles.

At least that’s the idea. It’s part of the deal, and it’s interesting. You know this going in.

Things are different with each couple, but when one partner runs their own business as well as carrying a patient/client load, it gets real different.

Dr. Elaine Gillaspie, my wife, graduated from Portland’s own National College of Natural Medicine in 1981. She’s been in continuous practice ever since. Thirty three years of health care, thirty three years helping Oregonians to a better future.

For twenty seven of those years she’s been married to a baby boomer blogger, but it didn’t start out that way. In the beginning I was a museum worker, the collection manager for the Oregon Historical Society. Together we’ve seen the region change from what it was in the early ’80’s when we met in NW Portland, to the hipster paradise America loves today.

Her practice, and business, changed with the times.

The Northwest Naturopathic Clinic began on NW Lovejoy and 21st, then moved to NW Vaughan. It was two doctors with a receptionist greeting their patients. Over the years Elaine grew a vision of a one-stop alternative health clinic. Her leadership in the Oregon Association of Naturopathic Physicians, then as a member of the governor appointed Oregon Board of Naturopathic Examiners, pushed her vision.

Today she runs the Portland Wellness Center in Hillsdale, an integrated holistic health clinic with practitioners serving Portland and beyond. It’s the culmination of her efforts that began in NW Portland.

Recent stories in the Oregonian about home births and doctor’s treating their patients as a whole person instead of their health complaint sparked discussion. Elaine has delivered over three hundred babies in home births. She’s delivered babies with women she delivered. That happens in a long practice. When we first talked about starting a family, home birth was the first choice.

That’s how our two kids entered the world.

Dr. Elaine feels encouraged that some MD’s are beginning to take the sort of time with their patients that she’s taken all along. You can’t measure the effect of giving patients more face time instead of a quick exam, a glance at a computer screen, and a new prescription, but put yourself in their gown and you know how you’d feel.

Good doctors know the importance of taking time to listen.

If you’ve seen ads for local hospitals, then you’ve seen the shift they’ve taken. Live well and thrive, along with live well be well, sounds like a page out of a naturopathic manual. So does the Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH) idea of comprehensive medical care for children and youths. A definition of PCMH reads like the vision that started the Portland Wellness Center.

As boomers age, we look for more effective health care and a little reassurance. It’s not too much to ask.





About David Gillaspie
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