Complementary health care services continue to expand in Steamboat
For Steamboat Pilot & Today
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Local residents might be surprised to learn Steamboat Springs is home to nine respected acupuncturists, which is just one example of the wide variety of health care providers offering complementary wellness services in Routt County.
Whether the therapies are called complementary, non-traditional, natural, integrative, alternative, non-pharmaceutical or holistic, Routt County is home to a growing volume of care options when it comes to healing the human body.
Grace Charles, a naturopathic doctor and licensed acupuncturist in Steamboat Springs for seven years, said non-traditional care options are expanding locally because the health conscious and active community is looking for a variety of treatments for optimal health, strong energy and good sleep. She said the interest in non-traditional medical options “is increasing everywhere in the U.S. but certainly in Steamboat Springs.”
“I think it’s representative of the patient needs,” Charles said. “We have a community that is interested in furthering their health care and are going further than what’s conventionally considered good health.”
As the list of local non-traditional health care options continues to grow, some of the services may be lesser known as available in the community, ranging from prolotherapy injections to placenta medicine to Ayurveda medicine. For example, Routt County is home to approximately 10 chiropractic offices, at least two naturopathic doctors, several herbalists and many massage therapists who offer everything from acupressure to prenatal massage to raindrop techniques. Some other locally available services in complementary care include: allergy elimination techniques, dry needling, hypnotherapy, midwifery, functional medicine, neurofeedback treatments, nutritional therapies, platelet rich plasma injections, rolfing and yoga therapy.
“For a small community, we have a lot of services,” said Stephanie Loomis, owner of an independent physical therapy practice in Steamboat Springs for 30 years. “It gives us more freedom to choose difference types of healing and wellness.”
A Steamboat Springs resident for 21 years, full-time technical project consultant and mom, Melanie Timmins was looking for options and collaborative care when struggling to have a second child near age 40. She turned to naturopathic doctor Charles for whole-body help with nutrition, vitamin supplements and exercise for stress relief and good sleep. Although her obstetrician was “fantastic,” she said, natural medicine filled gaps in her care.
When her second healthy child was born when Timmins was 42, her recovery difference was “night and day” with a positive post-partum experience after her second childbirth.
“(Charles) just added that extra time and extra care for the whole body and really helped me before, during and after pregnancy,” said Timmins, adding the combined traditional and non-traditional health care team “was an ideal situation.”
“I hope that can become recognized by the health insurance system, so that non-traditional therapies can be covered as well as traditional,” Timmins said.
One downside to natural health care options is not all medical insurance plans or Medicaid cover those services. Some insurance plans may cover services such as acupuncture, and chiropractic or acupuncture visits may be covered under worker’s compensation or vehicle accidents.
Meg Holpuch, a naturopathic doctor practicing in Steamboat Springs for three years after working in primary care in Oregon, said health care as a team approach where conventional and complementary medicine works hand-in-hand is invaluable for patients.
“It’s about the network that lifts people up finding health and wellness,” said Holpuch, who owns Sumovia Naturopathic Healthcare.
Nicole McGuffin, a doctor of psychology who is licensed and board certified in neurofeedback, has practiced in Steamboat Springs for three years after establishing a clinic in Denver that she later moved to Vail. She said Routt County residents “are incredibly open to and seek out alternative methods of treatment here.”
“This county does feel embracing and progressive of non-traditional healing therapies,” McGuffin said.
In addition to her psychology counseling practice specializing in relationships and developmental trauma, McGuffin offers neurofeedback, also known as brain wave training, to help patients with issues such as anxiety, ADHD, cognition, depression, focus, mood, performance and traumatic brain injuries.
Holpuch, who earned a doctorate in naturopathic medicine, said the more health practitioners available to allow patients to stay local for care the better.
“When you can get the care you need locally, generally health and wellness is more successful,” Holpuch said.
Dr. Jenni McPeek, a board-certified physician specializing in osteopathic manipulative medicine, said the community has a valuable, informal network of complementary wellness professionals who refer patients to each other. Through her practice in Steamboat Springs since 2008, McPeek often refers patients to local complementary health experts.
“I love to network as it often takes a few approaches to help someone,” said McPeek, who uses gentle hands-on techniques to help the musculoskeletal, nervous and immune systems.
“If you are not a candidate for surgery and pharmaceuticals aren’t a good fit for you,” Charles said, “then it’s important to remember you have all of these health care provider options in Steamboat.”
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