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Widening the health center’s focus

Dr. Fasih Hameed is helping to add alternative health services to the center

Published: Thursday, May 19, 2011 at 3:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, July 10, 2011 at 11:29 p.m.

The Petaluma Health Center has been rapidly expanding its services to include more alternative medicine and practices, and the driving force behind most of these changes is an ambitious young physician with a highly diverse background.

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Dr. Fasih Hameed is the director of integrative medicine and a physician at the Petaluma Health Center.

Terry Hankins/Argus-Courier staff

Facts

AT A GLANCE

Name: Dr. Fasih Hameed
Family: His wife, Sarah, is a doctoral student in marine ecology at the Bodega Marine Laboratory, a part of the University of California, Davis
Job: director of integrative medicine and a practicing physician at the Petaluma Health Center
Hobbies: Playing guitar and just about every other stringed instrument, as well as gardening and surfing
Quote: “Ultimately, what drives me is that at the end of the day, I care a lot about the world and the people who live here. I want to do whatever I can to make sure that the world is as safe, healthy and happy as possible.”

“I’m not looking to distinguish between alternative and traditional medicine. The important thing is to establish what is good medicine, and the evidence that both types can be good has been proven by scientific evidence,” said Fasih Hameed, the director of integrative medicine and a practicing physician at the health center.

Hameed was hired by the center in 2009 specifically to help expand its offerings to include alternative approaches.

“Kathie Powell (the executive director) and Dr. Nurit Licht (the medical director) had the vision, and they captured me,” Hameed said, laughing.

After receiving his medical degree from Tulane University in New Orleans in 2005, Hameed moved to Petaluma, and enrolled at the Santa Rosa Family Medicine Residency, an affiliate of the University of San Francisco. He then helped to create the Integrative Family Medicine Fellowship program there, and was its first fellow, focusing on acupuncture, nutritional and herbal medicine, osteopathic manipulation and mindfulness-based stress reduction.

He occasionally teaches at the residency and is actively involved in the national movement to boost integrative medicine, but his main focus now is on the health center.

Under Hameed’s guidance, the PHC has expanded its services to include acupuncture, osteopathic manipulation, biofeedback, chi kung, nutritional cooking, gardening, herbal medicine and meditation. He has trained other medical staff members to perform these techniques.

He feels that the other practitioners at the health center have been receptive to offering alternative medicine services, and emphasizes that the ultimate intent is to give patients a wider variety from which to choose.

“We are trying to empower patients to take responsibility, rather than have the doctors be dictators of their health care,” Hameed said.

He is eagerly awaiting the health center’s move to a renovated building at 1179 N. McDowell Blvd. that will provide three times as much space as its current site, at 1301 Southpoint Blvd., and enable it to nearly double the number of patients it serves by 2013.

“I see a beautiful future for it as the hub of a wheel of wellness that serves the city — and county, if appropriate,” Hameed said, adding that expanded cooking and gardening programs are planned for the new site.

He also is committed to continuing his many efforts to encourage an integrative approach to medicine on a local and national scale, but just a decade ago, he had absolutely no idea this would be his focus. His father, Khalid, is a physical therapist and his mother, Bibi, is a nurse, but Hameed’s adventurous nature led him to philosophy.

Hameed received a bachelor’s degree in the subject from Brown University in Providence, R.I., in 2001, which motivated him to study and practice medicine.

“In the great, thinking schools of the world, there’s a tendency to expand our consciousness into contemplation of the universe, which is seen as an interplay of physical forces,” he said. “The human body can be viewed as a microcosm of the universe, because this interplay is reflected inside each of us. So, it makes sense that we can see the complex interconnections of the universe by researching the body.

“For me, philosophically, it was a matter of going out or going in, and I went in. It seemed like an easier place to go.”

(Contact Dan Johnson at dan.johnson@arguscourier.com)

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