J. Zohara Meyerhoff Hieronimus called Pioneer of Integrative Health Care in Maryland Given Garland Award from Sir Paul McCartney sanctioned Charity in 2005 for her founding of the Ruscombe Mansion Community Health Center.
The Ruscombe Mansion
Community Health Center
In 1984, I founded the Ruscombe Mansion Community Health Center in Baltimore, Maryland. It is one of the oldest, or is the oldest and largest outpatient integrative and holistic health care facility of its kind in America, structured as a collective of private providers.
Since 1984, our two to three dozen providers have served thousands of people a year for both maintenance of health, recovery from acute illness and improved quality of life, helping clients overcome many chronic ailments.
I have been interviewed on television, radio and news print media over the years about the vision I had when founding the center. It is simple, tell people because it grew out of my own journey in recovering my own health. I didn’t want others to suffer the way that I did.
Zoh’s Own Journey with Recovery from Illness
While in high school in my junior year (1971) I was diagnosed with Crohns disease and in 1978 required surgery of the small intestine. Until that time, I had not taken any pharmaceutical drugs though several kinds had been prescribed. But they all made me feel sick. I saw no point in taking medicine, which made me feel worse than when I didn’t take it. I became a vegetarian and led an active life as a college student and wandering modern dancer and artist, with little thought concerning my illness. However, acute pain and other accompanying symptoms associated with the chronic disease, made surgery in 1978, the only option.
After the resectioning of the small intestine, I was unable to tolerate any medications beyond the initial antibiotics after surgery and hence began a two-year journey to recover my health using ancient and modern non-toxic and non-invasive options.
It was a difficult journey as there were no guidebooks at that time, as there are today, detailing the hundreds of wonderful therapeutics the world offers. Nor was there any central location one could go to in order to combine these wonderful healing modalities. My husband and I traveled to meet American, Hindu, African, Chinese and other healers who offered a variety of services, many based on centuries old healing traditions. I experimented with everything from ayurvedic medicine, to meditation, stress management, chiropractic, massage, color and magneto-therapies, and much more.
The Right Combination of Therapeutics Can make the Difference
Ultimately though, I found that there were a few primary therapeutic options which I rely on to this day for my maintenance of good health. I believe they work in tandem because each addresses a different aspect of the body’s nature and values the subtler life force, which animates the body itself.
I use Chiropractic, Rolfing and massage for the musculo-skeletal system. Homeopathy for the etheric formative forces which underlie all healing and illness and acupuncture for its ability to integrate and harmonize the entire bio-electric system of the body invigorating the body with its own life force’s capacity to heal and sustain life.
When I founded the Ruscombe Mansion Community Health Center, most consumers knew nothing about homeopathy, acupuncture, or the benefits of chiropractic and massage. Some professionals told me that it was ridiculous to open a holistic health care center, no one would come. Others remarked that because I was not a Doctor or a Nurse, who was I to found a healing center? But I did. I learned personally, how difficult it could be to find the services and providers of integrative health care as we know it today, and more so, that for those of us who did not want to follow the western medial model of allopathic medicine, especially for chronic illness, which at the time relied primary on pharmaceutical drugs and surgery, that we were not only on our own, in terms of having no insurance for these services, but we were most often on our own facing opposition from our doctors, surgeons, and even family members. What a sick person needs, is not discouragement and doubts from others, but companionship and support. I was fortunate in that my husband offered both of these in my own journey to wellness.
Founding of the Ruscombe Mansion community Health Center
Having been a student of the Western esoteric mystery schools like anthroposophy, theosophy, Rosicrucianism and many other native sacred and healing arts, it was an easy leap of faith for me to believe that subtler therapeutics than drugs and surgery were functional options for my future, and maybe even the best option for me in terms of long term recovery and maintenance of health.
The Early Years
In the summer of 1984 I called together 24 people whom I knew already working in complimentary medicine and alternative worldviews. The Center opened that September of 1984 with 18 practitioners, each renting time and space for their own private practices. We formed several committees, members taking as much or as little part as they wanted in building Ruscombe’ presence in the community.
I oversaw and developed programming with speakers, classes, and special free seminars focused on wellness and the role of the individual in their own journey to health. We were guests at conferences and answered many media inquires about the new approach to healing we offered. “It’s ancient”, we all reminded the community, “combined with the modern. Acupuncture is over five thousand years old. Homeopathy shows up in the Old Testament. Herbs and meditation are a part of all sacred healing traditions.”
Over the years the Ruscombe Mansion has developed wonderful affiliations with faculty members at the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University Medical schools, presenting visiting days when the medical students are exposed to the therapeutics millions of Americans are choosing to use in addition to everything else allopathic health care offers.
I encourage you to find resources in your community, like those featured at our Center.
Visit the Ruscombe Mansion Community Health Center website and learn more about services like acupuncture, herbal therapies, homeopathy, counseling, Shiatsu and much more.
“Healing is a matter of time, but also opportunity.” Hippocrates