Mr. Colvin makes no apologies that at least some of Memorial’s patients will not be able to afford the services, since most treatments will not be covered by insurance. “Can we give it all to everyone?” he asked, pointing out that Memorial provides $20-30 million a year in charitable care.
Mr. Colvin said the hospital would not embrace all of Dr. Chopra’s teachings. “We’re trying to temper it a bit,” he said. ”We wouldn’t tell hospital patients that massage releases toxins. What it is is something that makes people feel better. We don’t make claims that we have trouble scientifically validating.”
But the hospital’s own marketing materials suggest otherwise. In a document aimed at potential clients, a massage is described as something that loosens and mobilizes toxins and boosts immunity. Asked about the discrepancy, Mr Colvin said massage therapy “is a gray area”.
For their part, officials at the Chopra Center in La Jolla view the decision to partner with Memorial as a natural extension of their work. “Hospitals want more wellness and spas want to deal with better health,” said Dr. David Simon, the center’s medical director. ”We are very well placed to cover the entire spectrum.”
In fact, Dr. Chopra’s empire is expanding in other directions at the same time. He is completing terms of an agreement to move the resort he founded in 1996 to La Costa Resort and Spa, the legendary watering hole of Gerald R. Ford and Richard M. Nixon and a home of championship golf in the world. Offerings at La Costa will include Golf for Enlightenment – a course in which golf-specific breathing, yoga and meditation techniques are used to help unlock the participants’ inner tiger.
Dr. Chopra might even land in Manhattan: The Chopra Center recently signed a partnership agreement with Hampshire Hotels and Resorts to bring a Chopra Center to Lamb’s Club, a $35 million hotel under development on West 44th Street. A Chopra center at Bush Hall, Beatrix Potter’s former summer home in Hertfordshire, England, is also under consideration, potentially offering guests the chance to meditate before heading off to hunt partridge and pheasant.
“For 10 years people have been saying I have to operate the Chopra brand, that I am a brand,” Dr. Chopra said. “I don’t like it, so I resisted. But the thing is, yes, I’m a brand.”
Whatever the medical merits of alternative hospital treatment centers, hospital leaders believe they are filling a real need — at least for something that helps patients feel better. According to JP Saleeby, a holistic doctor who practices here, “It remains to be seen whether this type of medicine will be accepted in this city on such a large scale, but it comes down to competition and marketing strategies. ”