The healthcare system is broken, and more aptly reflects a disease-care system, according to Alice Walton, philanthropist and daughter of Walmart founders Helen and Sam Walton.
She spoke Wednesday (Jan. 15) at the Northwest Arkansas Council’s winter meeting in Bentonville and announced the formation of the Whole Health Institute and Chopra Medical Library. Walton said the center will be in Bentonville and will work to improve the health in the region and around the state with impacts that will also be felt across the nation.
“We have a system that is piecemeal at best and still not affordable for many, despite its annual costs which are 17% of the nation’s GDP,” Walton said. “We need a holistic approach that incorporates mind, body and spirit. Whole health tools do exist around the country and we want to be part of the solution to change healthcare.”
Details on the new center were not fully revealed on Wednesday, and officials declined to provide cost estimates on the initial launch of the institute and estimates on annual operating costs.
Walton said she has named an executive team to lead the project. Dr. Tracy Gaudet is the executive director for the Whole Health Institute. Walton has also added a small executive team to help her get the project off the ground. That team includes Dr. Amanda Hull, director, Whole Health delivery systems and Dr. James Marzolf, director, health sector finance and policy.
Gaudet is the former executive director of the Veterans Health Administration’s National Office of Patient Centered Care and Cultural Transformation. According to the VA, the office was responsible for “a fundamental re-envisioning and redesign in the philosophy and practice of healthcare delivery for our Veterans and our Nation.” Prior to her time at the VA, Gaudet was with the Duke University Health System where she served as executive director of Duke Integrative Medicine from 2001 to 2010. Prior to her time at Duke, Gaudet was the founding executive director of the University of Arizona Program in Integrative Medicine.
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Walton said once the new system is created, the plan is to spread it throughout the state and region.