For years Erminia (Mimi) Guarneri, MD, has, like Don Quixote, been battling windmills. Frustrated by the limitations of conventional medicine in keeping her cardiology patients from returning for yet another balloon angioplasty or stent, she knew there had to be a better way to care for them. As her spiritual journey led her in many directions, over time she realized that her patients needed more than she had learned in medical school. If she really wanted to prevent or reverse heart disease, she would have to convince her patients to make substantive lifestyle changes and monitor their progress in a program that she personally directed.
She started with the Dean Ornish program and eventually developed her own model cardiovascular health program called Healing Hearts, which blends conventional care with yoga, group support, exercise, nutrition counseling, acupuncture, music therapy, meditation, and healing touch. Her success and impact on the lives of her patients has been enormous, a success that is attributable to the total integration of these complementary therapies in a medically organized program under the supervision of Dr. Guarneri and her team. In fact, patients from around the world have beaten a path to her door, and a number of them responded with an open checkbook, offering to help underwrite her dream—to build the Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine.
With the Center, she wanted to change the “repair-the-broken-body-part” paradigm of healthcare to a new holistic model, housed in a single place where one could go to have a trusted authority assess mind, body, and spirit wellness.
As her business plan was formulated, it became apparent that Phase One of the project should include a strong revenue generator to serve as the financial anchor for the next phase. And so the 9,000-square-foot Dickinson & Gooding Center for Early Detection came into being. It has as its centerpiece the latest-generation GE Discovery PET/CT scanner, which enables diagnosticians to observe metabolic function in body organs accompanied by images of tissue and anatomical data. The goal of the Center is to identify disease—primarily cardiovascular disease and cancer—at its earliest stage, when intervention can provide the best outcome.
Owner: Scripps Health
Design: Jain Malkin Inc., in collaboration with Schmidt Scanlon Gordon Architects
Design Team: Jain Malkin, Jim Gordon, Osia Ora-Strasner, Molly Scanlon, Michele Woodward, Chris Shinall, Jeff Schmidt
Concept: Jain Malkin
Construction: Turner Construction
Mechanical & Electrical Engineers: Randall Lamb
Environmental Graphics: Harmon Nelson Design
Photographer: Michael Campos
Open: October 2004
Total Area (Sq. Ft.): 9,000
Total Cost: $2.3 million
Cost/Sq. Ft.: $255 (includes substantial infrastructure repair: new slab, roof, HVAC units, electrical upgrades for imaging equipment)
A typical patient at the Center is one who is dealing with a life-threatening health problem or is asymptomatic but has, perhaps, several risk factors for a specific disease, or is a healthy person who chooses to proactively manage his or her health and wellness. An interview with Dr. Guarneri or another physician determines what type of body scan (if any) is appropriate, and this is followed by an extensive family history and questionnaire. Then, a clinical team custom-designs a lifestyle prescription for the patient based on the patient's goals, medical condition, motivation, and desire to feel better physically and emotionally. Through participation in these customized lifestyle-modification programs, patients dealing with serious illness often, for the first time, are free from fear; they learn coping skills and become confident in managing their health and wellness.