Hospital as Center of Well Being, Redux

by Taylor Walsh on July 25, 2013

in Blog,Food & Nutrition,Hospitals,Integrative Health,Wellness

VAn-Grinsven02A couple of years ago I used a short video of Gerard Van Grisven during his tenure as CEO of the Henry Ford Hospital in West Bloomfield, MI (one of our iPOINTS), describing the astonishing array of health-creating, wellness-centric services that have been appended to that very formidable hospital. But that video has been seen on YouTube a mere 840+ times, which is a shame, since Van Grisven’s message describes a paradigm for hospitals that is needed urgently, and which would seem to be implementable with relative simplicity.

Van Grinsven had been an executive in the global hospitality industry (Ritz Carlton) before moving to West Bloomfield. He left there in July of 2013 to become CEO of Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) until the end of 2015. His 2010 presentation about his time at West Bloomfield describes the process of creating a primary local health institution in the form of a “Circe de Soleil of Healthcare,” as he described the vision. He said he learned all he could about his primary customer: women (90% of health decisions are made by women), got buy-in from his senior clinical staff and created a “northern Michigan lodge,” that included among its capabilities:

Vita Wellness Options

This included a wellness center, Vita, that serves up integrative health therapies, even if they lack formal clinical-trial-based evidence, but are widely used, safe and effective. Why would he do that, given the “tremendous pushback” from his clinical staff?

“I said my customer is demanding it. Who am I to tell my customer you can’t have it here? Women in particular wanted it.”

It is an innovative and inspiring tale informed by an outsider’s view of health service customers and the subsequent expansive view for how a hospital ought to “be the center of wellbeing for the community.”

His description of focusing on food and nutrition and providing cooking classes — for other hospital chefs, for local consumers and for kids — is worth viewing itself.


I recently wrote about the West Bloomfield model and a smaller clinical variation at a new integrative primary care center in the Washington, DC metro area.  That article is here, “When is a Health Customer Really Just a Customer? The Hotelier Explains.”

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