Dr. James Schrenker graduated from Indiana University School of Medicine in 1993. After seeing an ad in Southern Living Magazine that had a picture of the Bristol “A Good Place to Live” sign and reading about the area, he decided to leave Indiana to see what the mountains were all about. After 25+ years, he has not left. This is his story about how Integrated Health Concepts came to be.
I was introduced into healing from birth by my mother, Peggy. She rounded out our Catholic education by introducing me to the healing arts. My sister Sally started a healing center when I was in High School called The Marshall Center. She was one of the first Reiki masters in central Indiana, and she teamed up with John Dull, a magnificent hypnotherapist and several other healers. So I was around people being healed without doctors and medications for years, and just assumed this was the norm. At 18 years of age, just before going to college, Sally attuned me to Second Degree Reiki energy. Of course I had no idea what I was given or being led into doing.
Fast forward through an undergraduate biochemistry degree and through medical school to the floor of the hovel I was renting in a very bad neighborhood in Indianapolis, Indiana. I was looking for residency programs across the great state of Indiana, as I had no plans of ever leaving home, when I picked up that Southern Living magazine.
From there I headed down south to Bristol, Tennessee to go to East Tennessee State University to do my three year residency in Family Medicine. My intention was that this would be a three year paid vacation in the mountains, and afterwards I would return to my home place. Well that did not happen either. I met Dr. Fred Harkleroad and Dr. Chuck Bolick who delivered babies, which I wanted to do, so I joined their practice. I started private practice and delivered babies, did hospital rounds, rounded at the nursing home, and was, by all definitions, a true family physician. I was a young doctor convinced there was better living through chemistry and kept my spiritual beliefs separate from the scientific evidenced based medicine I practiced.
We then decided to join Holston Medical Group, and the small quaint family practice I joined grew, and grew, and grew.
I became disenchanted after ten years of watching most patients getting sicker and sicker and taking more and more medications. The rare patients that got better changed. In all my observations and interviews, I learned that what really changed were their thoughts. The people that tried the fad diets, diet pills, and latest and greatest medication just relapsed into more sickness. But those that changed their thoughts began to heal their being.
So I retired at age 35, spent all my savings, and opened up a healing center with several other alternative practitioners. Our first clinic was in the bottom floor of Sapling Grove. After roughly a year, we expanded to a spot out on highway 11-W. No medications, no exams, and no insurance payments—just energy work: Reiki, hypnotherapy, acupuncture, massage, nutritional therapy, essential oils and herbs. And what I learned was invaluable. People healed, getting better without all the drugs. But most people will not pay out of pocket for therapies for numerous reasons. I found myself having to continually market our services, talking people into to trying new things. And still people were reluctant to pay out of pocket. That is one of the reasons after three years with this clinical scenario I retired again. I knew this new approach to healing worked and worked well, but I was frustrated people would not expand their minds.
We packed up our office on May 1st and rented a storage facility from Bobby Griffin, of whom I had only heard about, but never met. I was signing the papers in his office when he up sold me on some vacant space he had at Exit 7. I bought into it and started leasing a single large room. Angela, my nurse/secretary/receptionist, and I moved in with only two desks in this huge room. Angela, for reasons unknown, stayed with me, and I managed to keep her paid by moonlighting at HMG’s urgent care. We would show up at this office at 8 a.m. and stay till 4 and literally do nothing (just habit, I guess). One day Bobby invited me to speak to his church about what I had been doing in my last clinic. I did. After the talk he put his arm around me, as only Bobby can do and said, “Boy you are wasting your God-given talents, you need to be in practice.” I was quite clear to Bobby that if God wanted me back in practice He will have to have an office ready to move into, and all I would need to do is scrape a name off the door (really I said those words). Plus I know nothing about billing insurance or how to accept insurance.
Well, be careful what you say. The next day Bobby came by the office, and I just happened not to be doing anything, just sitting with the lights off at my desk to save money. He said, “Boy come with me.”
I got in his van and he drove me to Dr. Weberling’s building on Euclid Ave. We pulled up in front of Dr. Ed Nicely’s office, who happened to die during his lunch break two weeks earlier. Interesting how the universe works. Dr. Nicely retired from an extremely busy medical practice in 1997, a year after I started. He met me a couple times in the hospital and referred all of his patients to me when he retired—an instant practice! Well he went back into medicine several years before his death but had started an alternative/integrated practice, which was doing well at the time of his death. Now I was standing in the front door.
I said to myself, well I guess I got to go back into practice now. I shook Dr. Weberling’s hand, and we had a lease. Literally, I scraped Dr. Nicely’s name off the door, added mine, and opened up the following Monday. Tables, paper, syringes, otoscopes, faxes, printer, and computers were all there. Some of his patients that had follow up appointments just showed up…go figure. When the universe wants something to happen all you need to do is allow it.
We opened up October 1st, 2008. Angela and I started using one exam room. We opened up at 8 a.m. and at 9 a.m. our first patient walked in. We have never advertised in print or on a billboard or any media. We use only word of mouth. After two years and starting with one exam room we bought the 28 Midway building with 12,000 square feet, and as any patient that has been here knows, we have expanded ever since! We are continually looking to add new services and products that hold hope for healing. I took what I learned about energy work and healing, integrated it with the evidenced based conventional medicine, and we have been able to teach people to heal ever since.
Our Next Step
We will be adding another provider in 2019; we just don’t know who or exactly when. Once again we will be remodeling 28 Midway, likely expanding patient rooms to the entire top floor and moving administrative offices. We are looking for another like-minded physician, just patiently waiting for the universe to send the right one.
I am designing a four story, 48,000 square foot state of the art facility that will straddle the Tennessee/Virginia line. My vision is for Integrated Health Concepts to occupy the top floor, retail on the bottom floor (with a Starbucks’s for my lovely bride) and a compounding pharmacy. One of the other floors will have a non-profit Hospice respite center with rooms in both states. We will get a medical school, nursing school, and residency program to work together with an acupuncture school, Ayurvedic training center, nutritional sciences, Reiki, massage and other healing arts to start a truly integrated holistic training facility. We can team up with the Veterans Administration, TennCare and Virginia Medicaid to deliver care to the most needy and have an unlimited supply of patients to teach us. In the end, we all win by changing the consciousness of healthcare so that people can be enabled to heal.