It’s a source of pride when one of our staff employees, like a medical assistant or someone working in patient or financial services, thinks, “I like WholeHealth Chicago and I like what they do. I’m going back to school and returning as a health professional.”
Twenty five years ago, our very first employee, Mari Stecker, managed the Chicago Holistic Center, forerunner of WholeHealth Chicago. Mari was utterly intrigued by Chinese medicine, so she shortened her work day, enrolled in school, and is now recognized as one of the leading traditional Chinese medicine practitioners in the Chicago area.
A few years ago, WholeHealth Chicago hired a very young Cliff Maurer for a position in patient services. He started tagging along with my associate, chiropractic physician Paul Rubin, and decided to become one himself. This was quite an undertaking, including two years of pre-med classes, four years of chiropractic school, and an internship. In fact, during his pre-med classes, he met Helen Streitelmeier, whom he recruited to be a Patient Services staff member and later joined WHC as a bodyworker and Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner. She now lives in Indiana with her husband and owns her practice there.
Around the same time, Tamika Stewart, just out of college, walked in and announced, “I want a job here.” After a few years, she headed off to medical school (on a full scholarship) and is now an Ob-Gyn in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Renee Zambo started in Patient Services and, already a yoga instructor at the time, soon completed her training in yoga therapy. She now teaches one-on-one yoga and leads classes. As further evidence of our collegial atmosphere, not long ago she and Cliff Maurer were married (in fact, today is their anniversary).
Cindy Kudelka began her career with WHC as a myofascial release therapist and now practices as one of our three Traditional Chinese Medicine professionals.
Seanna Tully joined our team as the Natural Apothecary manager. She studied to become a certified herbalist and nutritionist, later receiving full certification in acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Our nurse practitioner Katie McManigal spent a portion of her clinical rotations with WHC and later rejoined the team after she graduated.
One of our medical assistants, Nimra Tanvir, is currently in an intensive nurse practitioner program and will return to WholeHealth Chicago before the ink is dry on her degree.
My own assistant, Lizz Yamat, arrived wide-eyed and fresh out of school ten years ago to assist my retiring nurse Mary Nagle, and Lizz now heads our Medical Assistant team. She’ll soon cut back on her hours to continue working toward her nurse practitioner degree.
There’s a point to this lengthy introduction
We’re always excited to watch the personal and professional developments of our staff. As a consultant said of WholeHealth Chicago, “Employees move up, but rarely move out.”
And with this, we warmly welcome psychotherapist Christine Savas back into our fold, especially at a time when Americans are especially in need of good therapists. The uncertainty of it all: jobs, relationships, financial debt, health insurance, violence in the streets, climate change-driven unpredictable weather and uncontrolled wildfires, and one of the least efficient governments (at every level) any of us has ever seen.
Echoing the national trend in increased stress identified by the American Psychological Association, at WholeHealth Chicago we’re seeing more stress-related emotional and physical symptoms: anxiety, depression, obsessive thinking, insomnia, eating disorders, headaches, TMJ, irritable bowel, and fibromyalgia. Unfortunately, too often conventional medicine’s first response is the latest mind-altering drug from Big Pharma.
Christine Savas did her undergraduate work at the University of Iowa and received her Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Human Relations. She returned to her native Chicago and enrolled in the post-grad program in Community Counseling at DePaul. While in grad school, she worked with WholeHealth Chicago on the Patient Services staff, very much drawn to our integrative system of patient care. She then interned at several mental health clinics around Chicago, ultimately receiving certification as a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). Christine completed her internship training working with at-risk urban teenagers and adults of both sexes on the city’s south side.
Her interests focus on an integrative approach to the complexities of depression, anxiety, obsessive thinking, ADHD, self esteem issues, and sleep and eating disorders. Although she’ll refer a patient for medication if necessary, she’ll only resort to this if she thinks they’ve exhausted all other options.
In terms of the individual’s needs, Christine takes a holistic, mind-body approach. “Patients,” she says, “are always more complex than they think they are. I like to use therapy sessions as a way to open doors that may have been sealed up over time. Opening these doors leads to new insights and, often, a release from old and unhealthful behavior patterns. Therapy is an opportunity for growth.”
Everyone at WholeHealth Chicago welcomes back Christine Savas to our team.
David Edelberg, MD