In this episode, Dr. Maria Scunziano-Singh, also known as Dr. Maria, guides us through her integrative approach to medicine using both traditional practices and naturopathic medicine.
Originally from New York, and practicing in Hernando County, FL for the last 25 years, she discusses the development of her practice, Access Healthcare, alongside her husband, Dr. P Singh, and the lessons that Managed Care has taught them in regard to quality patient care. Brilliant as she is, Dr. Maria’s a teacher and a consultant at the WellCome OM Integral Healing and Education Center located in Spring Hill, Florida, that she founded in 2019. In addition to receiving a Telly Award and several Florida’s Top Doctors nominations, Dr. Scunziano-Singh is active in several professional and academic organizations, including the American College of Physicians, the Florida Medical Association and the College for the Advancement of Medicine. She is proud to serve her community, and looks forward to providing a broad range of supportive and integrative health care services for years to come.
You will not want to miss this episode, as I explore with Dr. Maria Scunziano-Singh, the various holistic treatment methods and how we as physicians can stay educated.
Coach JPMD 0:00
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Welcome to the Practice Impossible Podcast. We're your host Jude A. Pierre MD, also known as Coach JPMD discusses medical practice topics that will guide you through the maze that is the business of medicine, and teach you how to increase profits and help populations live long. Your mission should you choose to accept is to listen and be transformed. Now here's your host Coach JPMD.
Coach JPMD 0:57
So today we're joined by Dr. Maria Scunziano Singh. And Dr. Maria is a dear friend and we known each other for many, many years. And she helped start Access Healthcare where I'm currently working. And she's married to Dr. P Singh, who was interviewed on a previous episode on commercial real estate and medicine. So if you haven't heard that episode, please do check that out. But today we're going to have a conversation with Dr. Maria, who is a is an internist by training, and also became a naturopathic doctor and practices in Hernando county and I have to say that I'm somewhat embarrassed to say and to admit to her and and the world that you know after after many years of having a Welcome Center a Wellc-OM Center, a center for natural holistic medicine and comprehensive diagnosis and treatment center in Hernando County. It took me many years to actually visit the center and I have to say I was amazed to see what they offer there, from Salt rooms to infrared saunas, and all in Hernando County, something that I think should be in Miami Beach or or in LA. But we have in our own backyard in a suburb of Tampa, so I'm honored to have her on the Practice Impossible Podcast and we're going to be talking about Dr. Maria's transition from managed care to practicing more holistic medicine and the technologies that she has to offer at her center. So we're honored to have her on our show and can't wait to share this discussion with you all. So today's episode is with Dr. Maria Scunziano, and we're going to discuss alternative medicine and holistic medicine with Maria, Dr. Maria, and I'm gonna let her introduce yourself and tell us who she is, her background. And Dr. Maria, you take it away.
Maria Scunziano-Singh,MD 2:50
Thanks, Jude. Well, I am Dr. Maria Scunziano Singh, and better known as Dr. Maria and I have been around these parts in Florida for about 25 years. I have my medical degree from New York Medical College back in good old New York, and I've had that for quite some time. I also have a diploma in naturopathic medicine. So I have an NMD, which I received, oh, more than 10 years ago. And I'm happy to say that I have been really practicing an integrative fashion for virtually all of my time as a as a physician.
Coach JPMD 3:38
And so you you were, I mean, I joined the practice, you know, 20 some odd years ago, and you were doing managed care at the time. But you were not certified then. Is that correct?
Maria Scunziano-Singh,MD 3:51
Exactly, that's correct.
Coach JPMD 3:53
But you were doing managed care?
Maria Scunziano-Singh,MD 3:55
Coach JPMD 3:56
And running a pretty successful managed care practice. I would, I would think,
Maria Scunziano-Singh,MD 4:00
Yes, yes, I it was a combination of talent on my part, and my husband, we founded the practice that we have now. And we got underway, having joined in to the whole managed care arena, we came down here from New York, and we learned a lot about what it means to navigate the whole managed care business and basically as to offer value care, you know, with cost savings for everyone, everyone concerned, but giving valuable care. And being a you know, a primary care physician, I had the ability to you know, to dictate what went on. How people would be, you know, taken care of, if I could take care of them myself, I I would do that and that was the best way as far as I'm concerned. And, you know, utilizing the other resources in managed care using specialist as needed, you know, we, we refer people out so forth. But really it was about taking care of the person without over utilizing, and, and, you know, not losing control of medicine because before managed care, in the fee for service, if you will, doctors would just kind of spend a lot of money doing a lot of testing, doing a lot of things and, you know, wasn't really advantageous, you know, I mean, doing all of that, and over utilizing things, technology and so forth and so on services. You know, managed care, really taught us a lesson, we learned how to, you know, pull things together, giving quality care, and not over utilizing, and not putting people through so much, which happens, you know, otherwise. And we've learned to control ourselves as physicians, you know, it's kind of a disciplined way of doing things.
Coach JPMD 6:00
Yeah. And I know you guys did a lot of testing in your office also, because I was I was impressed when I when I first started. And you had x-rays, you had ultrasounds, you had dexa machines in the office, and I know, those are all part of cost savings.
Maria Scunziano-Singh,MD 6:14
Yeah. And using our.. Yeah, using everything kind of under one roof. Definitely was cost saving for us. And it was beneficial to the patient. It's like the, you know, one stop shop, people would rather go to a facility where they can have everything at their disposal, don't have to go to other doctors, but if necessary, of course, you know, we don't do general surgery, we don't deliver babies here, and, you know, we don't pull teeth. But we do a lot of other things in in our managed care practice. And it's exciting! It's exciting, because we really touch people, literally in every sense of the word. You know, my husband and I have, we have had a good reputation in the community. And as you have Jude, and we enjoy interacting and with our colleagues and, and bringing people aboard and we've grown the practice quite a bit. We have, you know, we have quite a number of providers, physicians, medical doctors, osteopaths, we have nurse practitioners, we have physician's assistants, and all the ancillary staff, we have, you know, just just amazing array of people with offices throughout the Tampa Bay area, and extending further across the state.
Coach JPMD 7:40
So how did how were you able to use your holistic medicine education in the managed care, I mean, because some of the services I know, are not covered by Medicare Advantage plans. So..
Maria Scunziano-Singh,MD 7:52
Right, so so the thing that I am pretty sharp on is lifestyle, and lifestyle medicine is actually a real thing. And you can become certified in lifestyle medicine. So that is something I've been doing all along, I will be sitting for my lifestyle board exam this year, the end of the year, and become part of that, you know, which kind of gives me that additional credentialing. But I've been doing it all along, you know, and lifestyle is all about nutrition. It's about self care, you know, taking care of oneself, knowing how to keep the body in good shape, fitness, you know, making sure you're doing things mindfully conscious living, sleeping, well, interacting with people, social relationships, very important. So you know, the pillars of lifestyle are all of the above, you know, just taking care of the basics of life, the basic elements of life that we need to and many people just don't know how to do that Jude.
Coach JPMD 9:03
And we're not doing that. We're not taught in medical school. Also in residency, we were all taught to prescribe medications and to read the studies and but there's, you know, if you don't help the patients, transform their being and transform the way they're doing things, it's gonna be hard for them to, to really live a healthy life I would say.
Maria Scunziano-Singh,MD 9:22
Yeah, so we're, yeah, we're kind of not geared and or prepped for preventive medicine. If you want to do that, you have to go via other means you have to learn on your own and that's what a number of us have done. We've taken that time to do it. So I knew going into medical school straight up that I was going to have to, you know, somehow bring in that element of preventive care because I knew it was just going to be a you know, see patients just hand them something or other, you know for whatever they were suffering with and and you know see it in a number of months ahead. That's not the way I practice. In managed care at least I can see a person you know who is in on a plan who's capitated so I can see someone as you, you know, every day if I need to, if the person needs to come in, I can see them everyday I can see them weekly. If I feel they need my guidance in in better care and better lifestyle care, I'm going to bring them in more often that's just the way it is, I feel I have that advantage with these Medicare Advantage plans so I can bring them in more often. That's how I incorporate my integrate or use the integrative approach. I'll just talk to them well bring out bring it all to light, I'll guide them. I'll teach them. Yeah, I have to use the extra time to teach them.
Coach JPMD 10:57
Yeah. So So I know that you've transitioned somewhat from Medicare to the Welcome Center. And I have to admit that I I was deficient. And I don't know if I should say deficient. But I should have seen that your Welcome Center, way longer than I that it took me to get there. Because you have a center, I would call it not just a center as a wellness community there that looks like it's something that should be in, in South Tampa or somewhere. And so tell us a little bit about how you got to where you are now. And what you're doing.
Maria Scunziano-Singh,MD 11:36
Well, I'm fortunate enough that I had a piece of land here I have a piece of land that we purchased and in my neighborhood. So it's near to my practice, actually saw on the campus of my practice one of my offices and where I spend time in, and the Welcome OM Center is something that I've been thinking about for a long time. I was looking for a place where I could bring in my knowledge of the alternatives, which I consider really primary, I think the conventional, the whole conventional thing should be called the alternative. I mean, this is traditional treatment that we're doing in at the center and other wellness centers. Traditional, really ancient, some of the stuff is ancient that we do, all right, and I utilize technique in something called pure bio energy. And it's a form of Reiki. And it's an energy healing method. And this is, this goes back to biblical times, for goodness sakes. And it's really powerful. And I've learned how powerful because patients respond. And that's the beauty of it. So that's just one of the things that I do. And I mean, we really are energy, that's what everything is, you know, we look like we're solid creatures and, and the chairs and everything look pretty solid, but they're really not. And we as human beings, our 99.9% vacuum space, and very, very small percentage, like a point 001 solid, so we're really not solid, we are energy, we are not stationary, by no means are we stationary beings, every, every split second, every millisecond every fraction of time. Everything is in motion. And there really isn't an inner and an outer, it's kind of just looking that way, right? The skin looks like it's okay, that's the external surface and then we have an inner gut and all these internal organs. We really are like sips everything is moving through us. And it's all energy. It's energetic stuff dynamic, nothing static, nothing static, right? And when we say stillness, we're not we're not truly still, I mean we can still the mind and if you really want to get into the spiritual element, yes, we can talk about stillness. But again, the word is very limited. You know, language is limited, right? It's actual motion. It's, it's the manifestation, it's the execution that really is making the difference. So at the center we which we established in 2016. And really opened it up in 2018, you know, with a yoga element, our yoga portion and our movement studio which started out with yoga. That was in 2018 to have an opening then, and we have just grown with all of our talented, the talented people on this campus. You know, I have have yoga instructors. I have People who do meditation, chakra healing, we have Tai Chi coming. We did have Tai Chi, we kind of got interrupted with come, it's coming back.
Coach JPMD 15:09
We have massage therapy.
Maria Scunziano-Singh,MD 15:11
We have massage therapist, we have hypnotherapy, we have our community garden, we have IV therapy that I do in addition to the pure bio energy, I do IV, vitamin therapy, vitamin mineral antioxidant therapy, I also do chelation, which is very powerful, you know, removal of metals is a really, it's a neat thing. And the science hasn't, and it's just not in the regular toolbox of physicians. It's just not there. And I had to go and learn all about it. And I'm glad I did, because I'm helping people who are, you know, we're benefiting from it, you know, so that we do here at the center.
Coach JPMD 15:59
Not all, not all doctors, listening to this podcast may say, Well, I'm not sure you know, where did you learn that? And what is it? What's the research behind that? And so what would you say to a doctor, though, that was a naysayer about some of the things that you've just just described chelation IV therapies and things I know, I've done some research, I know that a lot of it works. Most of it works. But where do you get your information from?
Maria Scunziano-Singh,MD 16:23
Yeah, well, there's, there's an integrative medicine Association, and the integrative American Medical Association is present in this country, you can get involved, you can become part of this and learn about other disciplines, you know, things that that you can use, that are having science behind them. And there is there is science behind these things. It's just not brought out in the conventional textbooks. It's not you'll have to get textbooks on integrative medicine, and they exist. And there are there are integrative teachers everywhere. And, I mean, Andrew Weil has an integrative school in, in Arizona. And that's right now the only one, but more of these medical schools are bringing in courses, for instance, like for lifestyle medicine, you have you have these different courses in acupuncture courses that are coming into the curricula and are, are open to incoming medical students. That's really something very new, it's very new. And it's exciting because, you know, I have a daughter who was doing that kind of thing, you know, she just started and she started at a conventional medical doctorate school. And she is, she's interested in, you know, integrative practice for them. She can bring in these type of things as in her future, in practice.
Coach JPMD 18:05
Yeah, and I know that there are some other things that I recently started researching and that was infrared saunas, I think you have an infrared sauna, at the center as well.
Maria Scunziano-Singh,MD 18:15
We do. We do. And the sauna is a is really another fascinating tool. I mean, it's it's a wonderful tool, you know, it has a capacity for detoxing you. It has anti inflammatory effects. And again, there's science to show this, which is beautiful, you know, for improving your your cell health, your cellular health to improve your immune system. To to alleviate pain, and we have a dry infrared sauna, and we don't have the the wet sauna that most people would you know, think of you know that that kind of steamy bath, bath looking like atmosphere. This is a dry sauna, and you can go in with just light clothing or bathing suit and just take that heat and it's a dry heat, it's like going to the desert, you know, and getting that dry heat, and your your joints and everything, your bones and everything feel much better. And you can just you just feel better with it. So there's a lot of a lot of push for this infrared.
Coach JPMD 19:24
And why do you think that there is not much push in medical schools for these types of therapies because, you know, there's an infrared saunas, and salt rooms, I know that you have one as well. Why is there not a big push?
Maria Scunziano-Singh,MD 19:36
Yeah, well, that's that's kind of a loaded question. And the answer would be probably taking me a few hours to do so. I don't know that we have that time..
Coach JPMD 19:48
The short version, the short version of the answer.
Maria Scunziano-Singh,MD 19:50
Yeah. Well, you know, as they say, it comes down to economics. You know, if something like this like a sauna session, which is going to cost to you a few dollars, you know, I mean, you know, say $1 a minute, and you're in there for 40 minutes, okay? $40. And this takes pain away, reduces the inflammation makes your skin cleaner makes your airways feel better. You know, that's pretty inexpensive. And that means Oh wow, I might not have to take those drugs or go to that particular facility and go to a doctor or whatever. And some people, they have them in their homes, they have infrared saunas, right in their homes, they purchased them. And for those who can't afford to do that, or don't want them have not the room, they come to a place like, like the home center, and we have it, we have it, we offer it. And we also offer a salt room, the salt room is absolutely wonderful. I mean, that place is so busy, it is so busy, I mean, and it is got so many benefits, my gosh, that the salt room, when you inhale the dry salt, it's as if you're at the at the ocean side. Number one, it's a little bit wetter there. But according to the Salt Therapy Association, if you spend 45 minutes in the salt room, it's like spending a couple of days at the beach. Yeah, and the effects are wonderful. The salt is bactericidal, bactericidal, that makes a lot of heads turn, its muco kinetic, hydrophilic, anti inflammatory. It can eliminate foreign substances, it helps to enhance the mucociliary blanket so you can get things out that are stuck. it's beneficial for asthma and COPD and bronchitis and sinusitis. And congestion in general, smokers who are trying to quit, they, you know, they just love the salt room. And it's like a cave, it's really nice. It's got a nice ambience, and you just relax in there. I mean, we have people booked, booked every day virtually for the salt room, you know, they're, they love it. And it's peaceful. And you can go in there with your loved ones, you can go in there on your own, you can go in there with a friend. And we can do things in there like meditate. We can give therapy, other therapies in there. And it's just, it's a great atmosphere. So for people who have respiratory ailments, I mean, it's actually being used for a lot of ailments, a lot of skin conditions. Just overall well, being people feel great in the salt room, it is totally benign. And it's totally really effective.
Coach JPMD 22:43
Yeah. So you've been doing this 20 plus years, 25 years, right? 25-30 years, you have a young physician coming out of residency, hearing some of these technologies that they may not have heard in medical school, what would be the one thing you could tell them such that by doing it would make their lives easier? And they wouldn't have to go through some of the pains that you've gone through?
Maria Scunziano-Singh,MD 23:05
Well, yeah, they just whomever you know, just come to me Just call me anytime. I am totally available. 24/7. Yeah, I would say you know, that one, if you're interested in any of these type of therapies, there are ways of becoming trained and certified and or having this staff who knows how to do this working with you. And so they can be there right on site with you, which you know, I have them here, and we work together. But you know, there there's like the different associations that will teach you about sauna. Teach you about salt, the salt, the salt itself has an association. Yeah, there's a Salt Therapy Association. And to learn about more integrative practices, you will have to work with an integrative organization, and we have that there's an Integrative Association, and we have people who are part of it, and they have the benefits of having education, there are CMEs available for physicians, and so you have a lot of really resources within that framework of the Integrative Association. So I'm, you know, I'm definitely part of that, and I'm glad that it's there and it use it as a resource.
Coach JPMD 24:30
So you tell him to get educated on this and to say…
Maria Scunziano-Singh,MD 24:34
Absolutely, I mean, anybody who, you know, wants to, you know, really extend their, their skill or their talent, they have an interest in in the holistic approach, because, again, when we, when we are training in conventional, you know, programs, we're really learning a reductionist approach. We're not doing a holistic approach and you know, as far as I'm concerned, you know, when you go in, you know, you see a person's leg that that has something wrong with it, that's it, you just focus on the leg. If you see you know, person has an injury or something like that to the head, okay, just focus on that, if it's an injury, we can work with it actually, you can work with it in an integrative way, you don't have to just take take a drug for it, you can, you know, you can use something else, there are other technologies to use and or hands on therapy to use and use oils, you can use different kinds of types of inhalation. Again, there's so many options other than drug therapy. So you know, you are in a in a position, like I said, as an integrative physician to know more, you have more in your toolbox, actually, there is no box. If I may say there is no box, it's just, it's pretty wide open. And once you learn about herbs, and learn about how powerful they are, and what you can do with them, and yes, there's science behind them. And yes, they've been used for 1000s of years, many of them, and, you know, some of them that that have come up, you know, Turmeric is the but all the buzz, you know, it's it's a spice, and it has so much power to it. But there are so many others out there, I mean, really, you're talking about like, a world of remedies, you know, for so many things, and we have them, we have them, and but we don't know about them, when we're in medical school training, there's so much more to learn. And I encourage anyone who is interested in, like I said, a more holistic approach out of the box approach. And having so many things at your disposal, your knowledge base is enhanced, you'll be so much more satisfied, patients are just satisfied, they're looking for you, they're looking for this type of person. So when they come to me, they come in because somebody else has, has a deficiency in the in the knowing, they don't know what it means to use these other things. And these people are frustrated. So I think that it's gonna be, you know, the future, the integrative approach is really the future if the future is now and it's just going to grow as far as I'm concerned.
Coach JPMD 27:26
Well, Dr. Maria, thank you so much for spending this much time talking about things that you do. And I know our audience is going to be pretty excited to learn about some of these things, because I didn't know about them before, before speaking to you. And so what we'll do is we'll put some of the show notes and some of the things that we discussed here on in the show notes. And how can we find you? How can we? How can our listeners find you?
Maria Scunziano-Singh,MD 27:54
Let's see now… why? Should I give out my home address?
Coach JPMD 27:57
Maria Scunziano-Singh,MD 28:00
Yeah, and as far as a website, right, we were on Welcome OM Center.com. Well, two L's right? WellcomeOMcenter.com. And that is located at 4242 Lake in the woods drive in Spring Hill, Florida. 34607. And our phone number at the center is really easy to remember. It's 352 area code 600-4242. So that's our address. It's 4242.
Coach JPMD 28:39
Maria Scunziano-Singh,MD 28:40
And the buildings are actually.. each building has .. we have three buildings on the campus, and each one has its own number, but you you know, when you GPS, it, it's it'll bring you to the whole campus. And yeah.
Coach JPMD 28:53
Thank you so much Dr. Maria. It's great talking to you, and I'm sure we'll see each other soon.
Maria Scunziano-Singh,MD 28:59
Oh, thank you, Jude. Absolutely. All the best and thank you.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai