Frequently Asked Questions About The Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicine
Q: I don’t live in the Charleston area. Do you work with patients from out of town?
A: Yes, approximately 50 percent of our patients are from out of town. Patients come to us from all over the United States and some from overseas.
Q: How can an out-of-town patient follow your comprehensive treatment programs?
A: All of our programs can be followed on an outpatient basis. Even our Biodetoxification Program and Oxygen Multi-step Therapy Program can be followed at home once a patient completes the initial intensive parts of those programs at The Center. It is especially helpful that we have in-house medical laboratories and allergy testing facilities in our 10,000 square feet, environmentally safe office complex. With these services provided right at The Center, patients can maximize their time with us when they’re in Charleston.
To better understand our approach to diagnosis and treatment and how it can help even patients who come to us from a distance, click here to learn about our Our Comprehensive Approach at “The Center.”
Q: How quickly can I expect results once I start my individualized comprehensive treatment program?
A: The speed of healing for each patient depends upon a number of factors, such as the types of problems being treated, how long and how intensely the problems have been troubling a patient, and how well the recommended treatment program is followed.
Most patients report alleviation of at least some of their symptoms within the first three weeks, and many have reported immediate improvement from our allergy testing and desensitization extracts! Our comprehensive Yeast Eradication program and our Natural Hormone Balancing program also seem to yield very quick results for many patients, even those who have been suffering for years with these types of imbalances.
Overall, we typically ask patients to look for significant improvements within three months, with more healing occurring over a span of about six months.
Q: What are the qualifications of your doctors?
A: Dr. Allan D. Lieberman, our Medical Director, was board certified in Pediatrics is a Fellow in the American Academy of Environmental Medicine and a Diplomate in the American Board of Environmental Medicine (ABEM).
Dr. William Wiers, is board certified in Emergency Medicine and is a Fellow in the American College of Emergency Physicians. He is in the process of certification in Environmental medicine from the American Academy of Environmental Medicine
Dr. Bettina Herbert, is board certified in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. In 2015 she became Board-Certified in Integrative Medicine, in the first ever class certified by the American Board of Integrative Medicine from the American Board of Physician Specialties. Dr. Herbert is a Certified Practitioner by the Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM). She is in the process of certification in Environmental medicine from the American Academy of Environmental Medicine.
A complete Curriculum Vitae and shorter Biography is available by clicking this link: About Our Doctors.
Q: How much will it cost when I first come to the Center?
A: We are a fee-for-service provider and all services must be paid for when they are rendered. Our evaluation process is much more time-intensive and thorough than the standard evaluation performed in most doctors’ offices, and insurance companies are not yet geared to reimburse for this in-depth type of evaluation.
The initial evaluation includes a comprehensive medical evaluation, lasting up to 2.5 hours, followed by the doctor providing a highly individualized written treatment plan. Next a patient will undergo any treatment protocols as agreed to and outlined in a written estimate of the services to be provided. Only those services a patient has signed off on that they wish to partake of will be conducted. In the afternoon the doctor will again sit with the patient to review what has transpired and to answer any additional questions they may have. At the completion of the initial visit the clinical staff review the written treatment plan and suggested daily treatment regimen with the patient to ensure they fully understand the treatments and anything they are required to do on a daily basis after completion of the initial appointment. Review of this plan and answering any questions may take another half hour or more and is included in the cost this initial visit. The second part of the initial evaluation includes one 30-minute follow-up consultation, and 2 15-minute consultations, all of which may be by phone or in person at your convenience, to assess your progress. This is performed at 4 week intervals after the initial evaluation.
Patient education, which may last an additional hour beyond the initial medical evaluation itself, is included in the initial evaluation fee. Laboratory testing and allergy testing, any supplements or other items recommended for treatment, etc. are separate costs.
Since we carefully review all costs with a patient before performing any testing, etc., the patient is always in control of the process. There are no hidden fees. We also prioritize testing and treatment protocols which have been recommended, so that a patient will be able to choose the most effective parts of the comprehensive treatment program to be followed, while managing the cost of services within their own budget. We encourage our patients to be partners with us and ask questions whenever they arise.
Q: Do you accept health insurance assignments or Medicare?
A: Regrettably, the answer is no, we don’t accept insurance assignment or Medicare. Our Center is a fee-for-service provider. Our evaluation process is much more time-intensive and thorough than the standard evaluation performed in most doctors’ offices, and insurance companies are not yet geared to reimburse for this in-depth type of evaluation. Click here to read more about our Our Comprehensive Approach at “The Center.”
After each consultation, we give patients completed HCFA forms which they can file with their insurance company themselves in order to get reimbursement. Most patients find that they do get re-imbursement from their insurance company for at least some of the costs of evaluation and treatment at our Center. We give a discount on fees for Medicare-eligible patients since we are not a Medicare provider.
Unfortunately the health insurance industry is many years behind in recognizing the clinical and scientific achievements of physicians who practice Environmental Medicine or other branches of holistic medicine. It would be impossible for us to provide the level of service and quality of care that we believe is necessary if we had to rely solely on current trends in insurance reimbursement in our field. Through our professional organizations, we are involved in an ongoing process of lobbying the insurance industry to re-evaluate their policies.
Q: What is Environmental Medicine and how does it differ from other forms of treatment?
A: Environmental Medicine is a branch of medicine whose domain is not limited by anatomical boundaries but, rather, is concerned with the whole person and the way that a person reacts to his/her total environment.
The approach of Environmental Medicine is holistic in nature and addresses every part of the body, including the brain that controls thinking, perception, mood, and behavior. Chronic exposure to various stressors can trigger a wide range of mental, physical, and emotional disorders. Stressors may include infection, allergies and intolerances, addiction, nutritional deficiencies, exposure to toxic chemicals and toxic metals, or toxic relationships. Stressors may be linked to the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink, the chemicals that pollute them, or more subtle sources. Over time, if stressors outweigh the body’s ability to cope with them, imbalance and illness result.
The Center evaluates each patient in terms of his/her total environment and the impact of that environment on the individual biochemistry. To better understand our approach, read about our Our Comprehensive Approach at “The Center.” We strive to reduce the Total Stress Load and rebuild the body’s reserves, restoring balance and strengthening the individual to overcome and prevent illness.
To learn more about the American Academy of Environmental Medicine and the American Board of Environmental Medicine, see Environmental Medicine.
Q: Can you work with my family practice doctor, if requested?
A: Yes, we are happy to work with other physicians to coordinate your care.
However, it is the patient’s responsibility (and in a patient’s best interest) to advise all treating physicians of currently prescribed medications and nutritional supplements, or any items which you may be taking on the basis of any healthcare provider’s (or your own) recommendations. Each doctor who treats you will be making decisions about your healthcare based on what they know, so it is important that they have a complete picture.
Also keep in mind that other physicians who do not practice holistic medicine themselves may not be open to discussing holistic options. You, the patient, will be best able to tell which doctors will be able to comfortably support your decision to seek a Natural Medicine approach whenever possible. Our goal is not so much to change any other physician’s approach, but rather to help each patient with the best in Natural Medicine that we know and have experienced first hand in treating our patients.
Q: What is your success rate for treatments?
A: After many years of practice at The Center, we have been able to see what works and what doesn’t. Successful treatment for each patient depends upon a number of factors, such as the types of problems being treated, how long and how intensely the problems have been troubling a patient, and how well the recommended treatment program is followed. Those patients who take advantage of all they learn at The Center about caring for their own individual body and consistently applying those principles seem to have the most success.
We estimate about 80 percent of our patients get relief from at least some of their signs and symptoms. We have patients who have consulted us, off and on as problems arise, for over 20 years. In today’s rapidly expanding medical field, we couldn’t possibly have such a high return rate unless patients trusted us to be able to help them.
For a complete list of the many different types of problems that we treat at The Center, click here to read about our Programs and Treatment Modalities.
Q: Do you have written resources that support your methods of treatment?
A: Yes, we have tried to give scientific references supporting our treatment approach at the end of many of the articles within the Programs and Treatment Modalities section (on the Navigation Bar).
Q: Do you have written comments from other patients who have been successfully treated at The Center?
A: Yes, many patients have wanted to share their experiences with others. Click here to read some of our Patients’ Testimonials.
Q: Is it acceptable to bring someone with me to my appointment at The Center?
A: We always welcome a family member or a trusted friend to accompany you to any appointment at The Center. Their support is a valuable part of your healthcare program, and they may help you to remember what was said or to think of important questions to ask.
Q: Where can I stay when I come to the Center?
A: Click here for information About Our Area, including safe housing for patients who are very environmentally sensitive, as well as a list of nearby hotels where many of our patients and their families have stayed.
Q: Where can I go to eat and where are the health food stores near your Center?
A: Click here for information About Our Area, including a list of nearby restaurants. The Charleston area boasts several good health food stores, including Health Nuts (on Greenridge Road, about 15 minutes from our Center), as well as the large chains of Earth Fare and Whole Foods, each about 30 minutes’ drive from The Center.
Q: If we are going to be in Charleston for a few days, what is there to do?
A: Charleston is a beautiful city and noted for its tourism. Our Center is 20 minutes from downtown Charleston and 40 minutes from the beaches. Click here for more information About Charleston, including restaurants, nightlife, and things to see and do while visiting our area.