Educational Rights for Disabled Students

Providing health care in a community means working together on behalf of all of our residents. Vashon Natural Medicine is thankful to work collaboratively with many different agencies on Vashon, including Seeds 4 Success, an organization dedicated to enhancing community inclusion, and employment opportunities for those with disabilities. 

This past weekend, in conjunction with Seeds 4 Success, Vashon Natural Medicine hosted a seminar for parents and caregivers of students with disabilities regarding their educational rights. Attorneys Lara Hruska and Angela Shepow from Cedar Law, PLLC provided a free seminar for parents that included IEPs (Independent Educational Plans), 504 Plans, IDEA law and FERPA - the federal law that requires a Free and Fair Education for All students. It was thorough and very much appreciated information. Parents of children with disabilities rarely have the extra time required to consistently learn and advocate what their rights are in the public schools.

A significant portion of our health comes from our education and social environment, so having appropriate access to both is not only critical for our children's health, it is state and federal law. At Vashon Natural Medicine we believe that all of our community members are important, have value, and deserve the best health (including their education) that we can give them. 

For more information about the rights of students with disabilities, contact Seeds 4 Success or Cedar Law, PLLC.

Independence, Humor, and Primary Care

When I began my practice in 1998, I really wasn't thinking about how to run a business. I was a new mother who moved back to her hometown to be near my family. The idealistic idea I graduated with from medical school was to move home, practice medicine, and serve my community. Twenty years later, Vashon Natural Medicine has grown to include multiple practitioners with full schedules, and success I had never anticipated. To be truthful, there is very little profit in primary care medicine, but the benefits of living on and serving Vashon far outweigh the alternative for me.

Vashon Natural Medicine has weathered the economic downturn, the continuing erosion of health insurance coverage, and the ability of patients to afford it. In 2000, 57% of physicians were independent, but by the end of 2016 that number shrank to 33%. 44% of those independent physicians left said they will probably sell their practices within the next decade. Consolidation with hospitals and corporations has been necessary for many to survive. Thanks to the support of our patients, our office is still going strong.

In order to give back and serve the people of Vashon, we donate our services and resources to local causes. 37% of our patients are on Medicaid and we have always provided free services for those in need. Vashon Natural Medicine has worked with the CDC, Washington State Department of Health, Washington Health Care Authority/DSHS, King County Health Department, UW Suicide Prevention, Vashon School District, Vashon Alliance to Reduce Substance Abuse, Anti-Domestic Violence Program, Seeds 4 Success, Vashon Social Services Network, Vashon Maury Food Bank, and Vashon Youth and Family Services in order to benefit our residents.

Starting my 20th year in business, I am grateful to say that our office exists for and because of the people of Vashon. I still believe in the ideal that the health of our patients and community is paramount, above profit. Vashon Natural Medicine is not owned by a corporation, or managed by a non-profit entity that has no local ties. Vashon Natural Medicine is owned by me, a resident of a small town that tries her best to take care of her family, and her community.

In the spirit of celebrating our 20th anniversary, Vashon Natural Medicine takes a quote from my favorite movie, "What About Bob". With our newfound success as a tourist destination, this image is intended to celebrate both local pride, and the longevity of our office with humor. Vashon Natural Medicine supports our local residents. We love our community, and are grateful for the last 20 years.


In Memoriam: Charles Weispfenning, MD

Kindness requires courage, and Doc Weispfenning had plenty of both. When I began my practice on Vashon in 1998, the term "integrated medicine" wasn't known, and Naturopathic physicians were considered quacks. Still are by some. While other doctors shunned and disparaged my profession, Dr. Weispfenning had the courage to be kind. He volunteered to be the doctor I needed for those insurance contracts, in case I ever needed an MD to provide hospital admission services. The occasion never arose, but Doc signed those contracts for over 10 years without blinking, and made my office and professional career on Vashon possible.

It has been said that intelligence requires the ability to consider different opinions while retaining your own. Dr. Weispfenning was not only highly intelligent, but resourceful. He was the best diagnostician I ever knew. He was kind, compassionate, unassuming, and the epitome of a small town doctor.

Doc went to medical school later in life and practiced medicine on Vashon for over 30 years, retiring only when he knew his patients were in good hands. Those who knew Doc, knew he didn't care about money, or recognition, he cared about people. I have said it many times over the years, and will continue to do so; had it not been for the kindness of Charles Weispfenning, MD, and his belief in my abilities as a doctor, I never would have been successful. As I approach my 20th year in practice, I hope to do his memory justice.

Create Health by Supporting Your Community

When I was a medical school student, I was lucky enough to listen to lectures from Dr. John Bastyr, the namesake of Bastyr University. Dr. Bastyr told us that being a physician, especially a Naturopathic physician, was a political profession. At the time, none of us understood how much we would each have to advocate for the acceptance of Naturopathic medicine over the course of our careers. But Dr. Bastyr also meant that the role of physician is critical in advocating for the health in all areas of our patients lives.

Naturopathic physicians believe that health is encompassed by not just our physical health, but our mental health, the health of our families, our community and our environment. At Vashon Natural Medicine, we are thankful for our patients and our community. To that end, since it's inception in 1998 Vashon Natural Medicine has supported many different organizations, from the Vashon Maury Island Land Trust which preserves our local environment, to DoVE that provides support for victims of domestic violence.

This year we are honored to be able to sponsor the Vashon Maury Food Bank's Summer 2017 Picnics in the Park, a program to provide lunches to children when school lunches are not available. This summer the Vashon Maury Food Bank plans to provide 3000 lunches to at least 500 students, and this year they will also be sending home fresh produce and snacks with families for the week. 

Help us make sure that all of our children are healthy, and enjoy their summer without worrying about being hungry. Contact the Vashon Maury Food Bank if you would like to donate or volunteer. We would like to think Dr. Bastyr would approve.

Can a Naturopathic Physician Prescribe Xanax in Washington State?

Naturopathic physicians are licensed by individual states, and abide by their state prescriptive laws. In Washington state, Naturopathic physicians have relatively similar prescribing rights as MDs and ARNPs, except for some important distinctions.

In Washington, Naturopathic physicians can use many of the same medications as MDs excluding the DEA Schedule of Controlled Substances I - V. The DEA list is based on how likely a substance is to be abused and it's potential for harm, from Heroin to Robitussin AC. Within that list, only some types of codeine, marijuana and testosterone are allowed for those who are specifically licensed with the DEA. So while we can prescribe medical marijuana, Naturopathic physicians can not, and do not prescribe Xanax.

Naturopathic physicians try to use the least invasive, and most natural treatments possible. Our first line of treatments is always based in diet, lifestyle changes, herbal medicine or nutritional supplements. As primary care physicians on a small island, we find ourselves using more synthetic medications than other Naturopathic physicians might, such as antibiotics or asthma medication, but only when absolutely necessary.  

Naturopathic physicians do not prescribe medications that have a high potential for abuse, and believe strongly in the power of nature to heal. We know that when the body has everything it needs and obstacles to cure are removed, it can heal itself, and so we try to replace deficiencies rather than mask symptoms.

MDs and ARNPs have a slightly different perspective, and are trained to use medications, such as Xanax, Adderall, and Ritilin. They do have full rights to prescribe them. At Vashon Natural Medicine, though our practitioners have different perspectives and training, they are all highly qualified and skilled in their knowledge and use of prescriptive medication. We have over 70 years of combined experience in primary care, and work collaboratively for our patients. We each treat disease by working with the patient as an individual, spending time with them to understand their issues and circumstances, and establishing a plan focused on healing for each person.