A Different Kind of Medicine
Writer Amanda Christmann
Photography by Carl Schultz
The world is full of dedicated doctors who do their best to provide quality patient care. Unfortunately, all too often, they must work within a system that dictates how far they can and cannot go for patients, what treatments and medications they are able to prescribe, and how much time they can spend with each person who comes through their door.
An increasing number of physicians and patients feel that the most common model for medical care in our country, in which patients are often rushed through appointments, prescribed medications that address symptoms and not causes, and are limited by insurance company mandates, does a disservice to patients.
Dr. Fabio Almeida wanted to change all of that. He took an integrated approach—something more holistic and compassionate—when he opened the Center for Integrative Healing and Wellness in Carefree.
Located at Civana Resort & Spa, the Center for Integrative Healing and Wellness is part of a growing trend toward concierge medicine.
Because his practice is membership-based, he not only has an opportunity to fully utilize his extensive training and expertise; he also has the opportunity to develop meaningful relationships built upon trust and the full access his patients have to ask questions or be seen any time they choose.
One patient, Melissa*, found out exactly how different Dr. Fabio’s approach is when she went to him after discovering a mass on one of her limbs. Two decades earlier, her father died following a similar diagnosis. Melissa wanted to share her experience.
“You never know what you’re going to do in a health crisis until you’re faced with one,” she began. “All you know is that you’re not in control anymore. All I could see was the same dire outcome for myself.”
Melissa turned first to her primary care doctor, who ordered a battery of tests.
“I know doctors who are working under the constraints of health insurance don’t have it easy, so I get it when they go into CYA mode and send you for too many tests,” she said. “But when those tests aren’t covered by your insurance—and you find this out after a delay of weeks—you can see how fear could quickly flip to anger mingled with desperation.”
Friends referred Melissa to Dr. Fabio and the world of concierge healthcare.
“What a contrast! When I met with Dr Fabio for the initial consult, we had an actual conversation,” she said—a marked contrast that set him apart from other doctors she spoke to who she felt were more focused on their computers than on her as a person.
“Dr. Fabio explained his approach and addressed all my questions and concerns. He gave me his best clinical opinion and a plan of action that I trusted was unbiased, objective and based on validated clinical data,” Melissa added.
That wasn’t the only positive difference she noticed. There were many.
For example, when Melissa met with Dr. Fabio she realized that, for the first time in her life, a doctor finally spent the time needed to fully address her needs.
Melissa found herself navigating referrals and testing and negotiating her care with different facilities. To her surprise, she didn’t have to do it alone. Dr. Fabio and his office were there alongside her, helping her every step of the way.
“When I finally got my test results, it was incredibly reassuring to know that, with his expert background in imaging, he could access the results within hours and I could have confidence in his assessment—a big deal for me since false positives and negatives are not uncommon.”
Melissa is just one area resident who has discovered that, for her, the membership she pays for Dr. Fabio’s care at the Center for Integrative Healing and Wellness is more than medical care; it’s a holistic approach to health and peace of mind.
“Dr. Fabio addressed my all aspects of my health,” she said.
“It’s almost a cliché to talk about our lives as consisting of body, mind, spirit, but traditional medicine still sees you as just a body. As an integrative M.D., Dr Fabio considers all aspects of your being—your state of mind, the prescriptions and supplements you take, the foods you eat, exercise, social connections in your life and your sense of purpose.”
A Leader in Medicine
It’s no surprise that Dr. Fabio chose an innovative route for developing his practice. He’s spent his adult life pushing through barriers in cancer research, nuclear medicine and cardiology.
Even before his career began, Dr. Fabio was a mover and shaker. He graduated with honors at the top of his class at the prestigious The Chicago Medical School, then went on to complete a combined residency and fellowship in internal and nuclear medicine at the University of San Francisco.
Originally, he went into academic practice at the University of California San Francisco. In 2002 in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, he was recruited as a consultant to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta.
He then moved to Tucson in 2005, where he was selected to head up the molecular imaging department at the UofA University hospital and also serve as an associate clinical professor, teaching molecular imaging and radiation oncology – a rare move for a young physician.
More recently, he was a two-year fellow of the Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine Program at the University of Arizona, where he added studies in integrative medicine, herbal medicine, nutrition, fitness, acupuncture and stress management to his already impressive educational repertoire.
In 2010, Dr. Fabio established Phoenix Molecular Imaging, which provided groundbreaking treatments and clinical trials for cancer patients.
Though he is notably well-versed in many areas of medicine, he is particularly acclaimed for his work in oncology, nuclear and molecular medicine, imaging, and cardiology.
“I am a research scientist and internist at heart,” Dr. Fabio says. “I have been fortunate to have the extensive training and access to some of the most sophisticated technology available to help cancer patients.”`
“Over the years in my practice, I have met so many patients who have inspired me to expand my knowledge, looking into advanced conventional therapies as well as the influence of nutrition, supplements, and various alternative therapies to achieve a whole person approach to medicine and preventative healthcare,” the physician added with a smile.
As more people discover the Center for Integrative Healing and Wellness, Dr. Fabio remains committed to providing a combination of conventional medicine, lifestyle improvements and coaching, and alternative medical practices to help patients on a day-to-day basis.
For patients like Melissa, it has proven practical, positive and rewarding on a much deeper level than she anticipated. In fact, she learned from Dr. Fabio that today over 70% of diseases are chronic illness primarily driven by lifestyle, and therefore often preventable and potentially reversible.
“Lest you think I esteem Dr. Fabio as some miracle healer, you’d be wrong,” she said. “He is an exceptional physician to be sure, but he understands that true healing starts when you take responsibility for your own health. He empowers you with the knowledge, tools and support to do just that.”
“I am now working with Dr. Fabio to address some long-standing health concerns. One never knows what will happen in life, but I do know that, thanks to Dr. Fabio, I have an expert on my team to help guide me through the maze of medicine and find my way to better, enduring health.”