Makawao is home to Bridge Medicine Holistic Family Practice, providing a full range of traditional and nontraditional medicine. With 13 years of experience as a practicing family physician, Dr. Mia Carson opened the doors of Bridge Medicine in 2009, with plans for a satellite clinic in Ha‘ikü by early 2012.
“Bridge Medicine was founded on the fundamental principles of patient-focused care,” explained Dr. Carson. “Our clinic offers all the benefits of traditional medicine, yet we also have a full team of providers of alternative medicine, from acupuncture to massage therapy.”
Dr. Carson came to Maui with her husband and son in 2004 after being frustrated with the “business” of mainstream medicine on the Mainland. “You simply can’t give good patient care when you’re forced to see a patient for only four minutes at a time,” she explained with a sigh. “I was basically a country doctor who was unwilling to give up the idea of giving good patient care.”
Physicians Assistant Shannon Ray (left), Dr. Mia Carson and other Bridge Medicine health practitioners provide a full range of traditional and nontraditional medicine.
Photo: Debra Lordan
That’s how Bridge Medicine began, Dr. Carson said. “I wasn’t cut out for work like medical research—but when I have a person right in front of me in need of medical help, it’s very easy for me to be, well, all that I am,” she added with a quick smile.
With undergraduate degrees in English and in human anatomy, Dr. Carson decided on Case Western Reserve University on Ohio for her medical degree. As a National Health Service Corps scholar, Dr. Carson “always knew I would take care of underserved populations in rural areas.”
While on an accelerated track in med school, Dr. Carson spent time in residency doing additional training in behavioral health and operative obstetrics. “I wanted to be well-prepared to handle all aspects of rural medicine,” she said, pointing out that family practice doctors don’t do obstetrics here on Maui.
While her husband worked as a medical engineer in Salt Lake City, Dr. Carson completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Utah. “When I was in med school back East, my husband completed his undergraduate work in alternative energy and environmental studies. We always planned to return to Utah after I finished med school.”
But after a stint as an employed physician at a mainstream HMO in Utah, Dr. Carson decided a change was needed.
“My husband and I planned a trip to Häna to look at a job there, but before the trip he surprised me by announcing we were moving to Maui ‘because that’s where we’re supposed to be!’ he said. So we just moved here, trusting in intuition—and it turns out my husband was right!”
When asked what she finds most satisfying about complementary and alternative medicine, Dr. Carson was quick to reply: “People get better! People don’t always get better with Western medicine alone,” she said. “But with Bridge Medicine, people do get better.”
Dr. Carson went on to explain that she believes her patients get better because of their intention and willingness to be active participants with her in the healing process. She said that treating a patient from only one medical model doesn’t always work, “so that’s why we have experienced so much success with our patients—in addition to traditional medicine, we can incorporate alternative medicine and nontraditional therapies whenever it’s appropriate.”
Other practitioners at Bridge Medicine include Pediatrician Mark Harris, M.D., and Shannon Ray, P.A. (physician assistant), who is trained in western medicine but also utilizes holistic treatments. Dr. Carson said the alternative providers at Bridge Medicine provide “acupuncture, Reiki, shiatsu, reflexology, hypnotherapy, and somatic treatments for TMJ, trigeminal neuralgia and breast health.”
On the medical side, Bridge Medicine offers in-office diagnostics such as urinalysis, throat cultures, pregnancy tests, breathing treatments, peak flows, and spirometry for respiratory issues. Urgent care services, as well as phlebotomy and IV therapy, were added in March.
Bridge Medicine takes all kinds of insurance and offers a “substantial discount” with cash payment for services, though “no one will be turned away” because of their financial condition.
“Our main priority is serving our community with good patient care,” Dr. Carson insisted. “That’s why I became a doctor in the first place.”