H.I.P. Biographies at GLFHC

HIP Fellowship Faculty
Jeffrey S. Geller, MD is a practicing integrative physician. He is currently the Director of Integrative Medicine and Group Programs for the Greater Lawrence Family Health Center in Massachusetts since 2000. He is particularly well known for his work in creating the largest group visit program in the U.S., and his ideas about empowerment. In June of 2009 the health center received the Healthy Youth for a Health Future Champion Award from the US Surgeon General to acknowledge the innovative group programs for treating pediatric obesity sponsored by New Balance. In addition to board certification in Family Medicine he is also certified in acupuncture which he learned from the UCLA School of Medicine program, has received training in osteopathic manipulation from the New England College of Osteopathy, and is an Approved Consultant in hypnosis having trained and served as faculty for the New England Society of Clinical Hypnosis. He is particularly interested in evidence based alternative options for healthcare.

Dr. Geller is currently serving as faculty for the Greater Lawrence Family Practice Residency program and is clinical faculty for the University of Massachusetts School of Medicine and Tufts University School of medicine. He has been engaged in several research projects over the last 5 years, some funded by the CDC, to study his work with loneliness and group visits. He was awarded the AAFP / Park-Davis Teacher Development Award in 2000, and the AAFP Resident Scholars Award: First Place in 2001 for some of his published research. He frequently presents his work at conferences. His alternative medicine clinic in an underserved community has won awards and financial support from the following agencies: CVS, Eileen Fisher Co., Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Harvard Pilgrim, and Latino Project 2010. Partial funding for this fellowship is through a relationship with EBSCO Publishing. His clinics offer acupuncture, hypnosis, OMM, and group visits with Tai Chi, Yoga, meditation in coordination with western modalities. As a practicing integrative physician, Dr. Geller has been using the scientific literature to compare the various methods of approaching illness and healing.

He was an electrical engineer prior to his career in medicine graduating from the University of Massachusetts as the Most Outstanding Senior Electrical Engineer in 1992. This background gives him a very firm basis in statistics, which has been very helpful in reviewing and making sense of the medical literature. By maintaining a vibrant practice, he feels he is able to sort through not only what is statistically meaningful, but also what is generally useful and helpful for physicians.

Robert Luby, M.D. is the Director of Curriculum and Education for the Lawrence Family Medicine Residency and the Lawrence H.I.P. Medicine Fellowship. He is double-boarded in family medicine and holistic medicine by the American Board of Holistic Medicine. Dr. Luby attended Dartmouth College and Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons before completing family medicine residency at Providence Hospital in Seattle, Washington. He has had several stints of work in Guatemala, and has been employed in Hispanic Community Health Centers for his entire career. Dr. Luby’s interest in unconventional medicine extends back 20 years. He has had extensive training in Functional Medicine and Detoxification, European Biological Medicine, as well as shiatsu, hypnosis, and nutrition.

A strong value of his is pluralistic medicine. This refers to the importance of understanding all unconventional medicine modalities from the point of view of their own paradigm, as opposed to the allopathic paradigm. He also has a keen interest in the use of language in the medical encounter. Dr. Luby has won the Teacher of the Year Award and the Residency Innovation Award multiple times in his current position. He is a creative teacher and enjoys using games, songs, poems, and drama in his teaching. He presents over 60 lectures per year in the residency and is currently developing an elective in integrative medicine at the residency. Dr. Luby strongly believes that a self-wellness program is integral for any faculty, fellow, or resident involved in these programs.

Elizabeth G. Rocco, MD, ABFM, ABHIM was inspired to join our health center to be the first HIP (Holistic, Integrative and Pluralistic) Fellow for the Underserved at the Greater Lawrence Family Medicine Residency in 2005.

She was thrilled to finally combine her passions for working with underserved immigrants, studying the mind-body connection, and exploring alternative therapeutic health care relationships. Her fellowship included a personal practice of yoga, meditation, chi kung, and re-evaluation counseling; practical skill development in hypnotherapy, reiki, guided body imagery, and nutrition; development and facilitation of groups; and a review of the evidence-based literature in Integrative Medicine.

As a faculty mentor, Elizabeth has strived to create space for students and physicians to transform themselves into models of health, re-invent their identity as medical professionals, and to incorporate alternative techniques into a practice that aims to treat the whole person in the context of the family and community. She has a special interest in empowering patients and physicians to liberate themselves from the forces of internalized classism, sexism, and racism through techniques in Re-evaluation Counseling.

Early in her education at Miami University’s School of Interdisciplinary Studies, Elizabeth contemplated the ways that definitions of health, provider-patient relationships, family dynamics, groups, health care resource allocation, and grass roots health movements hinder, maintain or promote health. Upon graduation in 1991, aware of the limits of allopathic medicine and benefits to patient groups, egalitarian provider-patient relationships, equitable health care resource distribution, and non-allopathic therapies, she briefly studied herbs, childbirth alternatives, and Tibetan Buddhism while considering other paths as a healer. Eventually her passion for the care of hard-to-reach communities would influence her decision to become an allopathic primary care physician for the underserved.

After 2 years in sub-Saharan Africa as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Nigerian Guinea Worm Eradication Program, Elizabeth completed medical training at the Ohio State University College of Medicine in 1999 and Family Practice Residency at University of Wisconsin at Madison in 2002. She has worked and studied for 20 years with underserved populations internationally in Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and Brazil, and nationally with Havasupai and Ho-chunk Native Americans, white Appalachian poor, white and African-American urban poor, migrant farm workers and Mexican, Central American, Hmong, Cambodian, Brazilian, and Caribbean immigrants in community health clinics.

Since 2006 Elizabeth has been happily practicing alongside like-minded colleagues Jeff Geller and Robert Luby at the Greater Lawrence Family Health Center, and mentoring a growing number of physicians who are choosing a similar path in Integrative Family Medicine for the Underserved. When she is not in Lawrence, she is happily parenting her two young children, Eli and Ana Milena, with her partner, Larry Slotnick, a social entrepreneur in the sustainable food movement in the community of East Arlington.

Current HIP Fellows

Zhiling Trowbridge, MD I am stranger in a strange land and feel like a fish wanting to jump out of a fish bowl to asphyxiate myself instead of swimming in this jail of a water bowl because I feel like I am getting nowhere.

If the medical training experience was to be a reflection of my future I really didn’t want anything to do with it.  I had high hopes about being a medical doctor and like many a student worked hard to achieve academic success and gain the skills necessary to help patients and provide them with quality medical care as a trained physician.  But the part about caring for patients got easily lost in a world of medical politics, economics, difficult personalities, and lack of spiritual fulfillment when I was learning about medicine and trying to carry out my day to day functions as a doctor.

The art of being a healer came subsequently more so when I started to explore skills outside of traditional medical training.  I began studying Japanese acupuncture in the 3rd year of my family medicine residency via online courses and weekend seminars.  It was at this point that I realized that by my own hands and a small needles I could make a difference in how a patient feels emotionally and physically.  Integrative and complementary medicine spoke to me in a way that the other specialties had not because it gave acknowledgement to me that I possessed traits that were unique that I could give to my patients, rather than trying to fit a mold that others upheld, which I had a hard time connecting with.  This was “Qi” this was listening to the energetic connection between me and my patient and the “energetic balance” that flowed in the patient before me.

In the past year and a half as a H.I.P. fellow in Lawrence, MA, I have continued to gain and interpret the meaning of being a healer.  Learning to really listen and learn from my patients through the empowerment model, encouraging patients to find new beginnings when old ones had failed them, sharing in the joy of trying out herbal medications, meditation, chanting, color therapy, and nutrition.   It has been an exciting and enriching 1.5 years at GLFHC and memorable for me because I realize I have a found a ocean of new ways that can be medical care but doesn’t have to be the way I was told it “had to be” as before.  I appreciate the time I have spent here and will continue to try to share that with others who are searching for another way.

Zhiling Trowbridge received a B.A. for Special Major in Chinese Language at Swarthmore College 2002.  She received her M.D. at Wayne State University in Detroit, MI in 2009.  She finished a family medicine residency at Boston Medical Center in 2011.  Past work includes AmeriCorps volunteer at Lifelong Medical Care in Berkeley, CA and Quince Asian Resources in Quincy, MA.  She also did work as a locum tenems doctor in Gore, New Zealand from 2011-2012.  Her studies include Japanese Acupuncture through the Harvard Structural Acupuncture Course, Hypnosis training with Daniel Brown and Jeff Geller,  Plant Based Nutrition Course with the T.C. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies, and Functional Medicine training through Institute of Functional Medicine. 

Maryclaire O’Neill, D.O.  – In my early twenties I had the good fortune to be guided towards personal wellness by an integrative practitioner who has since become my mentor and dear friend. A seventh-generation Cherokee medicine man, trained as a naturopath, chiropractor, and acupuncturist, his care was my first experiential learning lesson in mind-body-spirit medicine. I was awed by the healing capacity of the body and the wisdom to be found in traditional healing systems. I also became aware that practitioners like him are scarce, while the demand for those with his knowledge is great. I decided then to become part of the answer to this brand of health care shortage by returning to school.

Osteopathic medicine was an easy choice because the training blends conventional and traditional wisdom while incorporating manual medicine. Aside from the physiologic mechanisms that explain the efficacy of manual techniques, the touch inherent to performing any given technique is therapeutic and plays a role in the patient’s healing response. Touch is a form of acceptance, acceptance is a form of love, and love makes all things easier to bear–even a chronic or terminal illness. 

Throughout my training I’ve sought out opportunities to further my understanding of manual medicine and other integrative modalities. In the early years of medical school I held leadership positions in student osteopathic and spirituality groups. I conducted osteopathic research, and chose summer preceptorships with an osteopath at an integrative clinic in Colorado, and with an allopathic psychiatrist who integrated acupuncture and yoga into a Kansas City methadone clinic. In my clerkship years I scheduled electives with osteopathic physicians who fully incorporated manual medicine into their practice, and with practicioners of functional medicine. I also sought training at nationally recognized programs including the AMSA Complimentary and Alternative Medicine Leadership Training Program and the Food as Medicine Nutrition Training Program, and received certification in cranial osteopathy. Along the way I brought my new-found knowledge to others through group activities, workshops and lectures and, of course, patient encounters. 

To maintain focus and balance amidst the demands of medical training I turned to my personal practice of Iyengar yoga. I have practiced for many years and began teaching while in school as a way to keep my commitment to regular practice and to deepen that practice through instructing others. One of my proudest accomplishments is the yoga workshop I held at the Balfour Education Center, an alternative high school for at-risk teenagers, in Hendersonville, North Carolina. The workshop was offered as part of the Life Skills & Conflict Resolution Education Program. It became the prototype for inclusion of yoga into the curriculum due to the positive effect on students’ attitude, behavior, and performance. These students came from homes of poverty, violence and substance abuse. Looking back I could say that teaching yoga to this group of teenagers was my first act of providing health care to the underserved. 

My awareness of social inequities, however, came at a much earlier age. As a diplomat’s daughter I spent several years living in areas of conflict in Colombia and Panama and was exposed to the liberation theology of my parents’ spiritual practice. In my college years I delved into the philosophies of Martin Luther King and Gandhi, and took to the Dalai Lama’s words on kindness and kinship. As a young professional I volunteered for the United Nations Development Fund for Women, providing campaign strategy to mobilize resources for disempowered women around the world. 

Now in residency, I’ve taken my skills most recently to underserved populations in rural China and Haiti, doctoring to the people while constructing community clinics. At home my clinic serves refugees and immigrants. Our refugee population comes from Cuba, Nepal, Iraq, Africa, and Vietnam, while the other 50% of our patient panel is comprised of Hispanic immigrants from Mexico and other Latin-American countries. I enjoy providing care across the spectrum of ages, but have a particular fondness for maternal-child health. During the delivery of an Iraqi babe last week his dad told me in broken English that his son’s
name was going to be Yunus, “Like the prophet in big fish in Bible” (Jonas!), while Yunus’ mom said to me, “I’m 30 years old. I have seen much war in Iraq. I came here so my children don’t grow up with war”. It is the privilege of being part of these stories that makes me feel that I am the one being served and not the other way around. 

In my world view the right to health care includes more than just access to medications.Medicine alone is not the antidote to disease, so this right necessarily includes access to integrative modalities involving touch, nutrition, and psychological healing. It is here, with this unmet need of the underserved, that my medical training and my social values intersect and I can bring to others what my mentor brought to me: A path towards true wellness. 

Recent HIP Fellowship graduates:

Dr. John-Paul Krueger – For the last four years, I have been practicing medicine in a community health setting in Boston.  It has been a fascinating, fun-filled time working with the diverse mix of the communities I have been treating.  But as my proficiency and skills have solidified, I gradually have found that I am increasingly disenchanted with contemporary medicine.  When confronted with the increasing complex presentation of pain, addiction, and torment; I have begun to feel that my skills as an allopathic physician are inadequate.   I would like to offer more.

My training and life have been somewhat eclectic so far.   Having grown up in St. Joseph, Missouri, a blue-collar farming city in the Midwest, I eventually went to college in Springfield, Missouri.   After a brief stint working with handicapped citizens in Pennsylvania, I began to use my financial aid to travel and explore the world.   I studied marine ecology in Sweden, spent a year in France, finished a marine science internship, studied piano, traveled to Ecuador to learn Spanish, and snowboarded around Lake Tahoe.  Eventually, I went to medical school.

After four years of learning the language of medicine, I opted for a family medicine residency in Colorado, working with the Denver Health system.  This particular program trains physicians in community health settings, with a strong emphasis toward treating Hispanic and disadvantaged populations.

After graduating, I took the only job that really interested me:  working at Geiger-Gibson CHC in Dorchester.   Their primary population comes from South Boston and Dorchester, a traditionally Irish-Catholic community with a large Dominican demographic.   With the presence of several low-income housing projects nearby and the fact that I took over prescribing Suboxone for a group of recovering opioid addicts, I gained greater wisdom in dealing with the darker elements of human nature-the ruthless use of manipulation, dishonesty, and exploitation to name a few.

During the last four years, I have also been assigned various medical students from Boston Medical Center and Tufts Medical Center to precept for their third year family medicine rotations.  I discovered that teaching was fun and honed my skills further.  I love teaching students and have gradually fine-tuned their experience.  The small-town atmosphere of South Boston offered an exposure to dysfunctional community dynamics and also direct continuity experiences often difficult to taste and appreciate during the medical and even residency years.

Over the last year and half, while diminishing my presence at Geiger-Gibson, I have diversified my work.  I currently work at Arbour Counseling in Rockland with outpatient psychiatric and addiction patients, heavily coordinating with psychotherapists in their individual and group therapy.   Additionally, I have been practicing primary care at the Southend CHC, another clinic with a Hispanic background.

However, I have arrived at a crossroads.  I would like to offer my patients greater opportunities for healing.   As a family physician who has become adept at coordinating the technical capabilities of Western medicine, I would like to couple these with the various holistic modalities and philosophies available.   I have always had an interest in the interplay of human thought, emotion, and consciousness on one’s health.   Ideally, I would like to help my patients who have the courage to face and surmount the barriers limiting their growth while offering the compassion and wisdom necessary in healing.

Kavitha Gazula, M.D. – During medical school I was fortunate enough to work with the most underserved populations’ seeking care at one of the major government funded hospitals. Even as I studied conventional medicine through formal training, I learned numerous natural and herbal therapies from my patients. My exposure to self-healing techniques like Yoga and Reiki increased my curiosity enough to make me attend a level I course in Reiki. Looking back, I realize that the roots to alternative thinking were already in place for me by the time I completed my medical education. Over the years I have come to realize how a holistic orientation and focus on prevention offers unique tools to address the complex problems of health care for low income patients.

I strongly believe in the philosophy of integrating the best of conventional and alternative therapies to achieve personal wellness, and I understand and respect how a patient’s health beliefs and choices must shape their individualized treatment plan. One of the blessings in being a physician is learning from the experiences and perspectives of patients.

My interest in Complementary and Alternative Medicine led me to train in structural acupuncture at Harvard Medical School and Boston University Medical Center thus enhancing my hands-on acupuncture skills. It also provided diagnostic and therapeutic techniques for managing pain along with neuro-anatomical approaches to pain modulation with dry needling as an adjunctive treatment technique. My certification and learning of acupuncture not just opened new modalities of therapy I could offer my patients as an integrative physician but also brought on new challenges for me with its incorporation into a busy office based practice schedule.

I strongly believe in the innate healing abilities of the human body and would like to have my patients’ partner with me in their own healing process. Lastly, I also believe in my own personal wellness. As a physician I feel the importance of role modeling healthier living while I encourage my patients to lead healthier lives. As a fellow in the HIP fellowship program at the GLFHC, I feel inspired and privileged with having this opportunity to not just practice and integrate my acupuncture skills but most of all feel empowered with my own personal wellness. Thus I find myself in the path towards providing exceptional integrative medicine as I further my learning of Natural supplements, Nutritional and Herbal therapies, hypnosis and group medical visits.

Hansie Wong M.D. It all started in college without warning when a knee injury threw me into the world of medicine. From that experience, I was introduced to Chinese medicine and qigong and was amazed by how much improvement was made even after just one treatment. Since then, I have been interested in non-conventional modalities of medicine and through the years of medical school and a residency in Family Practice, I came to realize that medicine barely touches the expanse of health and well-being. This put me on a path of self-discovery and improvement as I began gathering tools for health promotion instead of disease treatment. I learned more about complementary alternative therapies (acupuncture, osteopathy, energy work, herbs, mind-body work, etc.) and came to understand and appreciate the fundamental importance of nutrition, exercise, and emotional balance in healthy living. Through one of life’s ingenious synchronicities along the way, I stumbled upon the field of integrative medicine and thought, Wow! There’s actually a name for what I want to do! This is it! This is what health is about!

The HIP fellowship at GLFHC gives me an opportunity to put it all into practice and deliver excellent holistic, integrated healthcare. As I begin the fellowship and proceed on this life-long journey of well-being, I am excited to share my experience and empower others with ways to live a healthier, balanced life mentally, physically, and spiritually. After all, everyone deserves access to quality patient-centered care for personal health and development.

Hansie is focusing her year on practicing acupuncture and leading group visits for people with anxiety and chronic pain. She hopes to open her own clinic someday with Tai Chi and integrative medicine.

Nina Spiro M.D. I have always been drawn to the traditional medicines of developing countries. While modern medicine dazzled and dazed the global populace with advancements and semi-cures, my mind’s eye was always curious to hear about and seek out the ongoing healing practices of little-known villages and countries. Mind you, I am an MD and have known I would follow this path since childhood. But growing up, traveling and studying in different places, I knew there were respected, time-tested methods and knowledge that I needed to learn about, adapt, and include in my modern practices. Today people are more aware of the existence of alternative approaches and, in fact, often seek them out, much more so now than when I was growing up. While it is obvious to me that modern medicine has so much to offer, at the same time, it falls short in so many areas, particularly in the areas of preventative medicine, educating our patients about healthy lifestyles, and discussing alternative options to health and disease management based on individualized assessments.My most intense firsthand experience with traditional medicine was under the tutelage of traditional healers, or ombiasy, of Madagascar, about whom I wrote my thesis during college. My years in medical school and residency proved to be so vigorously packed with new information as to stall temporarily my previously active learning process about natural medicines. Fortunately, there were a few key preceptors and attendings that allowed me to realize both that one can be a relaxed doctor with a smile and still be effective, and also to realize that one can integrate evidence-based alternative practices into a great family practice. These were such revelations for me and such a relief in a world, I knew, was searching for just these things in their doctor. When the opportunity arose for a HIP medicine fellowship at the very site of my residency, the place I have grown to love, and am proud of for its work in our community, I knew the energy of the universe had aligned in my favor.

This is a groundbreaking fellowship to me. Lawrence is one of the only places in the country where I can choose what modalities and skills to get out of the fellowship; and to serve an underserved population in the process is really where my heart lies. I know I am extremely fortunate to work at a site where group visits are being pioneered like nowhere else; I am taking advantage of the knowledge being offered there. Balance and mindfulness, I believe, are the keys to healthy living inside and outside the practice of medicine. Educating both myself and my patients with the resources to live a healthy life, as well as being able to respond to medical issues with the most excellent and complementary alternatives of traditional and modern medicine, are my goals within this fellowship. With such knowledge I hope to approach my vision of being an effective, outstanding, responsible, and responsive family medicine practitioner. Nina is focusing her year on learning acupuncture as well as hypnosis and integrating it into her medical practice.

Indira Mahidhara, M.D. was the second graduate of the H.I.P (Holistic, Integrative, and Pluralistic) fellow at the Greater Lawrence Family Medicine Residency Program graduating in 2007. Indira has often stated that she had “struck gold” when she interviewed for and was accepted into this fellowship. She feels that the fellowship opportunity became available to her at the perfect time in her career; a time when she had become frustrated with the limitations of traditional western allopathic medicine, if used alone, in truly healing the people she encountered during her years of work. Indira spent this year learning and acquiring new skills such as acupuncture, medical hypnosis, and Reiki energy healing. Most importantly, she has found a new purpose for her future medical career, which includes being involved in the gathering of evidence to support the practice of various Holistic Medical modalities such that Holistic Medicine is considered more first line treatment and integrated with Allopathic Medicine, rather than considered separate and alternative. Indira is board certified in Family Medicine. She attended University of California, Berkeley for her undergraduate education and majored in Molecular Cell Biology with an emphasis in Genetics. This early exposure to the scientific method has provided a basis for her motivation in obtaining evidence to support the use of Holistic Healthcare options to integrate with already established evidence based Allopathic Medicine. She then attended The Medical College of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, PA where she earned her M.D. Afterward, she completed her Family Practice training at Scottsdale Healthcare Family Practice Residency Program in Scottsdale, Arizona. Indira spent the next 7 years working in both Primary Care and Urgent Care settings. Indira feels fortunate that the Directors of this H.I.P. Fellowship Program believe in empowering not only their patients and staff, but also their fellows in finding an individual path and following through with proposed goals. Indira has spent the last year attending formal training sessions for Acupuncture via the Harvard Medical School Structural Acupuncture for Physician’s course and Yamamoto’s New Scalp Acupuncture course, two courses in Hypnosis, and three courses in Reiki Energy Healing. She has also increased her knowledge base via independent study in Nutrition, Herbal and Natural Therapies, and Energy Medicine. She has attempted to integrate Holistic modalities with Allopathic treatments in her own care of patients during Acute Care sessions and her Acupuncture Clinic sessions. She is furthering her experience with the research world by providing summaries of alternative treatments for common medical presentations for EBSCO/Dyna Med Database. Lastly, she has continued to work on her own personal healing and wellness by setting and following through with several goals. She firmly believes that “we were given two hands- one to heal ourselves, and one to heal others.” She continues to practice acupuncture at the GLFHC.

Elena Rosenbaum M.D. is now working as faculty for a family medicine residency in Albany, New York. She is teaching and practicing integrative medicine.

As a young child in Guatemala, I constantly witnessed vast disparities in wealth and particularly, in health. I accompanied my mother in her fieldwork in tiny villages in Guatemala and Mexico. I remember feeling lucky to have doctors, dentists and any type of health care provider if I was sick. I started medical school with the mission to make health care accessible to more people both in the United States and internationally. As I am finishing my residency in Lawrence, I feel that I am part of the way towards my mission. For the last few years, I have dedicated my care to those who would not otherwise receive health care.

Growing up and during medical school, I quickly understood that western medicine is not omnipotent. In particular, I have been fascinated with acupuncture, herbal medicines, Ayurveda and Chinese medicine. Through my readings, travels and experiences, I have come to view practicing medicine as an art. I value my training in a U.S. Medical School. However, I am convinced that learning acupuncture and other forms of alternative therapies is essential providing the best care to my patients. While there is a huge disparity in western medicine health care, there is even a larger disparity in the world of holistic, alternative and complimentary treatments. Thus, I have decided to pursue a fellowship in Holistic and Integrative Medicine in Lawrence with the goal to provide excellent medical care to my patients. I want to combine the best of western medicine with the best of acupuncture, hypnosis, and osteopathic medicine to treat patients who rarely have the opportunity to see a physician and who would never have the opportunity to receive these alternative therapies.

Hong Truong, DO After completing the fellowship I discovered that all the skills and knowledge I obtained was a good fit in the world of addiction medicine.  Now an advocate of empowerment model it is rewarding to see patients take initiative in making decisions for their own recovery.  I am so glad that I have the opportunity to apply the concepts from functional medicine to educate patient that there healing needs to be treated at even at the most basic level of diet and nutrition.  Also thanks to the fellowship I was able to refine my abilities in acupuncture and osteopathic manipulation which are excellent skills to have in addiction medicine.