Helping people help themselves
● By J. Chambless
Dr. Alison Britt Kimmins of the Chadds Peak Wellness Center.
By Richard L. Gaw
At first glance, that is to say, in the clinical context of her profession, dermatologist Dr. Alison Britt Kimmins would say that the first tell-tale sign of her patients' overall health can be detected within the lines, blemishes and imperfections caused by the stresses and enormities of life...but her practice isn't about first glances.
It's about the real answers she believes are found in the people who sit across from her.
So when she greets a new patient at the Chadds Peak Wellness Center in Chadds Ford – or next door at its sister company, Chadds Ford Dermatology – Kimmins doesn't immediately reach for her prescription pad like some kind of reflexive tic. Rather than just scribble down some form of medication, she visualizes her patient attending a nutritional healing workshop. She sees her patient transformed in one the many yoga and meditation classes the Center offers. She looks at her patient and imagines the end results of what an acupuncture therapy may do to heal, not just fix.
In a medical world hellbent on offering quick and easy potions, Kimmins and her team are rebellious in their defiance of the cookie-cutter, cattle-call, take-a-number method of modern-day medical care. It begins with quiet; very often, the first steps to the healing of that person sitting across from them is done with only one person speaking, and it's not Kimmins or any of her colleagues.
“All we really need to do is talk to people in order to hear the truth of what they're feeling begin to line up,” Kimmins said from the Chadds Peak Wellness Center's offices in Chadds Ford. “Too many times, doctors don't really take the time to get to know their patients, so we, in effort to understand what brings them here, just listen to them talk. It makes them feel better inside, and when that happens, it opens the door to wanting to feel good on the outside as well.
“Slowly, the stories of their skin begin to speak to me. Their expressions tell certain stories. It speaks of poor health habits. It shows stress. A change in complexion is indicative of a lack of proper minerals. From these stories, I am then able to encourage them that by changing their lifestyle, they can change their life."
It's all part of the larger mission of Kimmins and her colleagues, which is to bring all of the company's components under one roof in order to heal a person's body, mind and spirit: nutritional counseling, massage therapy, acupuncture and acupressure, and yoga and meditation.
When she was a child growing up in Philadelphia, Kimmins was raised on canned vegetables and meat and potatoes, the starchy staples of the common American household of the 1970s. But by the time she got to college – first at Rosemont College and then at Yale University, where she earned a Masters of Public Health and Epidemiology – she began to see the way her new diet of fresh fruit and vegetables was affecting her.
After she received her medical degree from Thomas Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia -- and then her Dermatology Residency Training Program at Thomas Jefferson University -- Kimmins began to see her medical career as that of a connector of people to opportunities for wellness.
The proof of this commitment is found in the ever-changing schedule of workshops and events the Center holds throughout the year. Kimmins and her colleagues hold workshops on skin care awareness and provide free skin cancer screenings. The Center also holds regular cooking classes for those interested in eating healthy foods without sacrificing flavor. The Center is also in the early stages of planning yoga, massage and meditation retreats
"The medical and pharmaceutical communities are on a worldwide mission to fix people, not heal them," Kimmins said. "But they way to truly make an individual feel better is to educate them, to teach them about their bodies. We teach them what they do not know.
“In order to be truly healthy, it is essential for a person to connect their mind, body and spirit with what they do, how they eat, when and what they eat, and how they think, in connection with how their body functions."
Chadds Peak Wellness Center is located at 6 Dickinson Drive, Building 300, Suite 310, Chadds Ford, Pa. 19317. To learn more about the Center and its sister company, Chadds Ford Dermatology, visit www.cp-wc.com.
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org .