The Evolution of AIM: Our 20th Anniversary

The Evolution of AIM: Our 20th Anniversary

June 2019 marks the 20th Anniversary of Alliance Integrative Medicine. What an amazing 20 years it’s been! We’ve been through a few lows, including a building fire, followed by many more highs such as winning best workplace this year. We feel so much gratitude towards our amazing patients and partners who continue to trust and support us as we grow.  

The Beginning 

In June of 1999, The Health Alliance, a large hospital/ physician conglomerate asked Dr’s. Steve and Sandi Amoils to spearhead a new approach which combined the best of conventional and alternative medicine. They opened the doors of AIM using the same multidisciplinary, personalized, patient-centered approach we use today.  Steve Bleser DC, Liz Woolford MD, and Linda Benke RN are part of the original team that still work with us today.  

Realizing that combining therapies resulted in a quantum improvement in outcomes, they constructed the practice of using a team approach by putting a medical acupuncturist doctor, a chiropractor and an energy healer in the same room treating the same patient with the same end goal; this became known as our signature ACE Healing TreatmentSM (Acupuncture, Chiropractic, Energy Healing) which research has been shown to be more effective than treatments used alone. They then began combining other treatments together with the now-popular functional medicine model into what we now call Transformational MedicineTM. Their method  has endured the  test of time as this internal integration continues to prove Alliance as one of the top healthcare centers. In fact – that  same year AIM opened, it  was  named one of the top centers in the country.   

AIM provided  Greater Cincinnati with the best integrative healthcare and educational resources to the community. Given  that  AIM opened pre-internet, patients could not ‘Google’ their bumps and bruises to self-diagnose, and providers had to educate the community face-to-face (gasp!). AIM  held regular  community lecture series in the auditorium, filled  with more than one hundred people to hear the latest techniques and information, from acupuncture to chiropractic to nutrition to stress reduction techniques.   

And we didn’t just talk the talk when it came to health. Integrative medicine balances the body using multiple lifestyle systems, including exercise. If you’re a long-time patient, you may remember walking into an early appointment and hearing the ending minutes of our High Chi fitness class. Led by Dr’s. Steve and Sandi this 75-minute spinning class incorporated mind-body work; 45 minutes of SpinningTM was followed by thirty minutes of yoga stretching, core exercises and meditation. The novel idea of housing doctor visits and exercise  classes  under the same roof gave us a competitive edge for quite some time. With the evolution of $10/month gyms and boutique fitness classes, High Chi eventually faded but AIM continued to give back and donated all Johnny G SpinningTM bikes to the Jewish Community Center.   

Sandi Amoils, M.D. instructing a spin class.

The Highs 

In 2004, AIM was chosen by the Bravewell Collaborative as one of the six Leading Clinical Centers in the US, after it commissioned a study in this area by the McKinsey and Company. This group grew into the now 22 centers of the Bravewell Clinical Network, a collaboration of leading integrative medicine clinical centers that serve as a model for change in the larger healthcare system. Bravewell chose a system of dynamic, trusted organizations and philanthropists rooted in integrative medicine to advance the field and stimulate its growth. Members of the Clinical Network collectively saw more than 20,000 patients per month and conducted joint research through BraveNet, a practice-based research network. Alliance Integrative Medicine stands strong next to their Bravewell partners including Duke Integrative Medicine, University of Maryland, Boston Integrative Medicine and the Osher Centers at Northwestern University, University of California San Francisco and Vanderbilt and hospital systems like Scripps in San Diego. Research has shown the outstanding clinical results our patients receive even when compared to these industry leaders.    

In 2007, as the Health Alliance dissolved, AIM emerged as a private practice. In order to continue to promote education, research and care of the under served, AIM began working with the Integrative Medicine Foundation, a non-profit organization. From the beginning, we knew we were challenging the norms of healthcare which meant services weren’t always covered by insurance and could be a major investment to the patient. While we still believe nothing is more valuable than our own vitality, we understand that services should be available for all persons, despite socio-economic status. The  Get Well  Program was created in partnership with the Integrative Medicine Foundation to serve those in our community who financially cannot afford integrative medicine services. The Get Well program continues to grow and is still in place today.  

The AIM team, led by Steve and Sandi, authored our book  Get Well, Stay Well  in 2012 to highlight the integrative and functional medicine methods we continue to use today. All new patients receive this book at their first appointment because we value making you part of your healthcare team. The book gives patients the opportunity to learn and educate themselves on their treatment options so feel in control and empowered.   

AIM has supported the continued education of physicians, residents, medical students, chiropractors, and other allied therapists since its inception. An initial fellowship training was supported by the Bravewell Collaborative, but since 2007 has been supported by the Integrative Medicine Foundation. In 2018, AIM’s Physician fellowship training program became one of fourteen fellowship programs in the US accredited by the American Board of Physician Specialties. This is a big honor, as only physicians trained at one of these fourteen sites are allowed to qualify for board certification in integrative medicine.  

The Fire 

With all good things, there are inevitable low moments, and in 2015 Alliance suffered theirs: the infamous fire. Starting during off-hours, Steve and Sandi were awoken in the middle of the night to a phone call informing them that the building had caught fire. While this was a moment of complete devastation with significant damage and loss, we now look back at this moment and think of the opportunity it provided. Through the rebuild, we were able to update our structure and re brand our look. We created the Lifestyle Store that you see now, more patient rooms, and a conference room for staff meetings and lectures. People are always struck by the mixture of architecture, smells, ambiance, music and caring that makes AIM the stellar healing and therapeutic environment it is today.  

Old interior of building, which featured a library.
Renovated interior that features our Lifestyle Store, more patient rooms, and a conference room.

Evolving Through the Years 

Using our highly talented team of providers with varying backgrounds and skills, AIM has always offered diverse services to better service Cincinnati.   

Of course, our signature service, the ACE treatment, continues to be our tried-and-true method. Patients ca  combine three services into one, providing an opportunity to work with three providers in the same moment. Medical acupuncture to restore proper energy using meridians through the body, irrigating and nourishing tissues; chiropractic care to gently adjust joints and the spine to restore nerve function; energy healing to further correct imbalances in body energy that in turn improves physical health.  

Team with Master Dong Chen.

We’re always looking to evolve with the field of medicine and offer Cincinnati cutting edge, evidenced-based therapies. We want a high-tech, high-touch approach! Steve and Sandi’s friendship with their mentor, Dr. Jeffrey Bland, helped forge the strong relationship we have with Functional Medicine, and this modality is an integral part of our thinking. We are always exploring new, safe and proven options for care. Examples include: French auricular acupuncture, prolotherapy, Advanced Allergy Therapeutics (AAT), Frequency Specific Microcurrent, InBody body fat analysis, customized orthotics, exploring the combination of applied kinesiology with neuromuscular therapy to name just a few. In addition, we are constantly exploring new personalized lab assessments including full genomic panels as well as metabolic, nutritional, stress and hormonal analyses 

Our Lifestyle Store continues to grow as well. Walking into the store, you see the various supplements we recommend. Every bottle has been researched and approved by our medical staff. We only provide high quality supplements and work closely with medical-grade companies that third party test their products to ensure you’re getting exactly what the bottle states in its most pure state. As you continue to walk through the store, you’ll see our natural ingredient based beauty products including Intelligent Nutrients hair care, Odacite skin care, Yuni Beauty, and CocoKind. Of course, we always have snacks! Pick up a vegan salad or soup provided by our partner Rooted Juicery or grab a few shelf-stable snacks for your travels like Hu Kitchen chocolate or Papa Steve’s No Junk Raw Protein Bars.

Our Lifestyle Store where you can buy quality supplements, natural ingredient based beauty products, and healthy snacks.

In 2017 we made one of the ultimate signs of transition by switching from paper charts to an electronic medical record. This decision was made with great caution, as we did not want a large clunky computer to ruin the interface of the all-important therapist-patient relationship – hence our use of iPads! While it definitely came with some growing pains (thank you for being patient with us!), in the end we’re able to serve you better such as keeping track between appointments using our patient portal. 

The Backbone of AIM: Our Staff

Steve and Sandi continue to be the guiding graces of Alliance Integrative Medicine, but AIM wouldn’t be where it is today without the superb medical doctors, chiropractors, energy healers, massage therapists, RolfersTM, dietitians, psychologists and the support of our incredible staff. When everyone told them that this would not work, our medical doctors went against the grain of medical school training and partnered with practitioners of other specialties to provide superlative treatments in integrative medicine, all for the greater good of the patient.  Anyone who interacts with our staff will tell what an amazing experience it is to be at AIM. From the moment you call to the moment you leave, you will realize how consistently wonderful they are. Our employees make AIM the well-oiled machine it is today. At the same time, we offer compassion and care every day from the moment you step in our front doors. We hold regular staff meetings, executive team meetings, and staff trainings. Our team is glued together by trust in each other which translates into trust in our patients.  This is why we were one of the top places to work in May 2019 through Ohio Business Magazine.  

Liz Woolford MD, Teresa Esterle MD, Steve Amoils MD, Sandi Amoils MD, Katie Peeden MD

Reflection

Looking back at the last 20 years, we cannot help but feel proud and gracious. We are forever grateful for those who supported us when it was easy to be a skeptic and those who continue to support us as we grow and mature. Thank you, Cincinnati for making us your trusted partner. We’re ready for the next 20 years! 

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