A look at: Integrative Medicine at Smilow Cancer Hospital

Integrative Medicine

Art expression, including beading, is among the activities Integrative Medicine staff offer Smilow patients. Formerly known as Complementary Services, the Integrative Medicine Department has a new medical director and has expanded services to include research.


The Integrative Medicine program works to complement all aspects of healing by strengthening the body, educating the mind and nurturing hope and courage.

"Our approach is to enhance treatments for the patient using evidence-based therapies integrated into their standard of care," said David Vinas, director of operations, Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale New Haven.

Complementary services have been offered at Smilow for many years, but the program recently added Ather Ali, ND, a naturopathic physician, and became the department of Integrative Medicine. Dr. Ali is medical director of Integrative Medicine at Smilow and assistant professor of pediatrics and medicine at Yale School of Medicine. He is trained in naturopathic medicine, integrative medicine, epidemiology and patient-oriented research.

"We want to provide a seamless experience between the exceptional mainstream care patients are getting and integrative services," Dr. Ali said.

In addition, the Integrative Medicine department works closely with the Cingari Family Boutique and Patient and Family Resource Center. The boutique, off the Smilow lobby, offers items, services and support for people with cancer, including lotions, head coverings and scarves for purchase, and a clinic offering wigs, mastectomy garments and lymphedema sleeves. The Patient and Family Resource Center provides books on varied topics and information on community resources.

Along with treating patients, the Integrative Medicine department conducts research and clinical trials. "We are looking at our patients – who they are, why they come, who benefits and who doesn't. Our goal is not only to generate data, but to refine our practice and improve our care," said Dr. Ali.

In addition to Dr. Ali, the Integrative Medicine team includes a massage coordinator, art program coordinator, complementary services specialist and volunteers.

"As Complementary Services, we have always had a great staff that does meaningful work, but the addition of Dr. Ali allows us to really expand our services," Vinas said. "We are also very thankful for our generous program donors, in particular the Looking Forward organization."

"Many of our services just wouldn't be possible without their support," added Dr. Ali.

Patients can be referred to Integrative Medicine by their physician. For an appointment with Dr. Ali, call 203-200-4325. For a modality appointment, such as massage therapy or yoga, call 203-200-6129. The Cingari Family Boutique can be reached at 203-200-2273.

Integrative Medicine services

Integrative Medicine consultations
Art expression
Essential oils
Massage
Reiki
Yoga

Group sessions

Community choir
Gentle yoga
Qi gong
Labyrinth walks
Meditation
Personal story writing
Zumba Gold