Press "Enter" to skip to content
Brandi Froede and Dr. Hani Chaabo, in front of the new Integrative Medicine clinic. 

Chaabo team offers healing for the ‘whole person’

Ridgecrest Regional Hospital–

“If someone wishes for good health, one must first ask oneself if he is ready to do away with the reasons for his illness. Only then is it possible to help him.” — Hippocrates, circa 400 BC

Ridgecrest Regional Hospital recently established its first clinic for Integrative Medicine, a form of medical therapy that combines practices and treatments from alternative medicine with conventional medicine. 

“I like to call it a holistic, whole-person approach to care,” said Dr. Hani Chaabo. “We don’t just look at diseases, but a lifestyle.”

Dr. Chaabo joined RRH as a specialist in family medicine in 2019. During that time, he built up a practice for adults while offering stress-reduction training to groups and individuals using his training in Mindfulness. He is also board certified in Integrative Medicine, a discipline only about ten years old.

“Traditional medicine treats disease, but Integrative Medicine focuses on the root causes of lifestyle and the environment you’re exposed to — how you eat, how you sleep, how you exercise, how you cope with stress, how you deal with relationships, if and how you practice spirituality,” said Dr. Chaabo. 

“When you walk in, we don’t just talk about your medical history; we talk about your whole life — your family, your job, your hobbies, and everything else.”

Chaabo and a team, including a nutritionist and a health coach, partner with the patient to identify health objectives, map out a plan to achieve them, and offer support along the way. “Traditional medicine is directive. ‘Don’t smoke.’ But we look at why people smoke, establish your motivations, and hold your hand while you work toward your goals.”

Integrative medicine also presents a potential solution to two of the most significant challenges plaguing modern healthcare — the soaring costs of delivering care and the growing shortage of providers. Focusing on the “wellness” model of helping people get and stay healthy, rather than the traditional model of treating the sick, is where healthcare resources will eventually be trending. 

As with every aspect of healthcare, it’s easier to talk about bringing up the impacts of the pandemic. Hospitals and providers are still reeling from the tolls associated with fatigue, depleting resources, and remaining on high alert for infection prevention and treatment. 

“At the same time, we also saw a record number of people reporting struggles with their health — especially the mental and emotional facets.” 

According to a recent study by the Newport Institute, 61 percent of young adults reported moderate to severe anxiety during the pandemic. About 52 percent said reliance on drugs or alcohol to self-medicate. 

Chaabo said that he hopes the conversations surrounding mental health are also beginning to change. “We want to normalize people recognizing their struggles and getting help when needed.”

Dr. Chaabo is also completing his certification in Primary Care Psychiatry to offer medical counseling and treatment to patients of the Integrative Medicine clinic.

Coping mechanisms carry harmful side effects that tax health and wellness, and people who feel poorly often reach for unhealthy crutches in search of temporary relief. It can be a complicated task to untangle these unhealthy cycles.

“But that’s part of what makes what we do different from some traditional forms of treatment,” said Dr. Chaabo. “Many people know when they are not eating healthy or not staying active. But sometimes, it’s not enough to tell someone what to do.”

He said that new patients engage in “motivational interviewing,” which helps them identify the “why” behind their unhealthy behaviors and their reasons for wanting to improve their health.

“I wish I had known about these practices before I did my fellowship. I feel much better equipped to help people get where they want to go on their journey toward wellness,” said Chaabo.

He noted that even medical funding is beginning to consider wellness-based treatments. Instead of paying systems only for treating disease, “value-based care” is financially incentivized to help people keep from getting sick. 

“The good news is, everyone is eligible for this kind of care,” said Chaabo. 

In three months, he has seen patients successfully lose weight, alter their diet and other habits to get off some medications and find better ways to cope with stress.

“These are amazing results that we don’t always see in such a short period,” he said. 

“I am very pleased Dr. Chaabo is on our team, and I am excited about the growth of this new program,” said RRH CEO Jim Suver. 

Dr. Chaabo noted that “integrative medicine” differs from “functional medicine” in that everything he offers is evidence-based and FDA-approved. “We don’t offer any treatments that are experimental or unsafe.”

To request an appointment with Dr. Chaabo, call 760-499-3846.