Dr. Patrick Jean-Pierre: Using Functional Medicine & Integrative Methods of Healing—OFF THE CUFF
Are you looking for more than a band-aid solution to your health problems? Integrated medicine provides solutions that get to the root cause of illness, helping people to achieve long term wellness. Dr. Patrick Jean-Pierre is at the forefront of the functional medicine movement and in this interview, he delves into its use and benefits.
This week, Larry Sharpe goes Off the Cuff with internal medicine and sports medicine specialist, Dr. Patrick Jean-Pierre.
Watch The Full Interview on YouTube
Dr. Patrick Jean-Pierre Interview Key Points
In this interview, Dr. Jean-Pierre discusses the following topics:
- What integrative medicine is and how it can benefit you.
- How the Covid-19 situation has led to an enlightenment in people’s approach to their health.
- What is the underlying reason that certain people get diseases and others do not.
- The link between sports and anti-aging.
- The role of CBD and medical marijuana in managing chronic pain.
- How exercise affects your physical, mental, and social life.
- The interplay between lifestyle and genetics on aging.
- Why minority groups are having worse effects from Covid-19.
- The role that mental wellness plays in physical recovery.
- The importance of wearing a mask to safeguard others.
About Dr. Patrick Jean-Pierre
Dr. Patrick Jean-Pierre is an internal medicine specialist in New York, New York. He is also a specialist in sports medicine. Patrick graduated from medical school in 2007 and is affiliated with Huggins Hospital in New Hampshire. Dr. Jean-Pierre completed his undergraduate studies at Cornell University with a focus on human biology and nutritional sciences. He then went on to complete his medical studies at SUNY Upstate Medical University.
Patrick undertook his residency and internship in internal medicine at North Shore University in Manhasset. He then went on to complete his fellowship in Primary Care Sports Medicine at Henry Ford Hospital.
Dr. Jean-Pierre is a strong believer in the use of a combination of conventional medicine and integrative and holistic methodologies in the treatment of illness. As well as being trained in internal medicine, he is also adept at anti-aging/interactive medicine. He takes a holistic approach to treatment by taking into consideration each patient’s health history, medications, and activity level to develop a customized program that incorporates supplements, medication, nutrition, and exercise.
Find Dr. Patrick Jean-Pierre online:
Watch The Full Interview on YouTube
- Welcome, everybody, to “OFF THE CUFF.” I’m so happy that you decided to watch and listen. And I have a very special guest today; a doctor who is not just a typical doctor, a doctor who thinks a little bit differently than most doctors. A doctor who is the medical director at Hudson Wellness in New York City: the man himself, Dr. Patrick Jean-Pierre. How are you, sir?
- I’m doing all right, how are you doing?
- Good, good, good. Is it okay if I call you Dr. Pat?
- You can call me, JP is what they like to call me in the hospital.
- JP, JP it is. Whatever you like, I’m happy to do that. You know, I gotta ask the most important question and one that struck me immediately is you’re not the traditional doctor, meaning you don’t just say, “Okay, what do you have? Here’s the treatment.” You’re what’s called integrative. Can you tell me what that is? What’s integrative mean?
- So, a integrative doctor thinks about not just the diseases, so I’m a board-certified internal medicine doctor, where you’re trained in medicine, you learn how to fix diseases. Hypertension, pneumonia, fix them.
- But then, when I was working in the hospital before I started my practice, I realized, all right, there has to be something better than medication, medication, medication. And I started looking a little bit into integrative and it’s also referred to as functional medicine.
- Functional medicine?
- Yeah, and that’s essentially trying to find the root cause of the issue. So it’s not just, okay, so why does a person have a lot of fatigue? Is it just, oh, well the basic labs are normal. Is it their diet? Is it their way they’re digesting food? Is it the way they’re sleeping? Is it how much they’re exercising? So it’s essentially a field of medicine that’s obviously gonna get a lot more popular, more bigger, especially with this pandemic because it’s trying to prevent diseases before they happen.
- Well, it’s funny you brought that up, right. With the COVID crisis happening, in a way there’s been enlightenment. I mean, as horrible, beginning of this year has been, the first six months of this year have been horrible for a lot of people in many different ways. But at the same time, I think it’s been an enlightenment, meaning that people have started to rethink their health, rethink being cooped up in an apartment or a home for months, what’s their life like? This has to have moved your patients in some way.
- Well, the biggest thing that we’re seeing, as obviously an African American doctor, and we’re seeing obviously it’s affecting minorities more. And the reason it’s affecting minorities more is not that minorities don’t wanna go to the doctors. There’s obviously something subclinical going on and what we’re realizing more and more about the coronavirus is there’s something related to inflammation. So what are some of the ways that we help with inflammation? And that’s part of the whole thought of functional medicine and anti-aging and integrative medicine is if you’re in a really high-stress environment, if you’re living in poor conditions, if you’re eating a lot of processed foods, you’re gonna develop more inflammation in your body. The subclinical inflammation might not cause a disease, so you might be the whole thing that people keep trying to ask or trying to figure out is why is a 31 year-old getting issues with COVID and a 95 year-old is fine? And there’s some of these subclinical things. One of the biggest things that hopefully comes out of this is the country, the government, the CDC, the lab, the insurances realizing, hey, some of these lab markers that I would check. So I have a practice in which I have regular primary care patients and I have integrated patients. Some of these markers that I check are only in integrative patients, because it’s, again, they’re trying to find ways to be healthier.
- They’re looking for more of a root cause thing.
- Exactly, and we’re gonna realize that there’s a subclinical inflammation, even in a marathon runner, ’cause that’s what people are finding out. There’s a marathon runners dying of COVID and how’s this super healthy person getting it?
- That’s not supposed to happen.
- That’s not supposed to happen at all, but it’s something that’s happening. So the thing that I feel like is the missing piece, I’m a little bit different because I also still work in a hospital and I work in a front line and see COVID patients, and it’s understanding that something’s happening. What is the underlying reason that certain people get diseases and certain people don’t? And they’re gonna end up realizing that, hmm, maybe we should start making doctors check these markers so that a 22 year-old who thinks they’re absolutely normal and fine with a normal blood pressure, normal cholesterol; why are they getting a really bad issue in the ICU from COVID and realizing that there are some of these underlying inflammatory things that are going on that we’re realizing.
- So let me go into that wide question. For you, right? Your parents are immigrants. So are you a doctor because it’s the immigrant story? Oh, my son comes to America, you better become a doctor or a lawyer or engineer. Is that why you’re a doctor?
- You want me to be very honest, so I am the fourth out of three older brothers, both my parents are physicians. I have a brother that’s a physician. The other one is a lawyer, and the other has MBA only ’cause people are like, you’re in the “Cosby Show” type of thing.
- So at a very young age, I’m very sports obsessed. I love sports medicine, so I thought I was gonna be a professional soccer player. I’ll keep it honest with you. And then once I was actually struggling a little bit in school and I was underperforming essentially with my last name, Jean-Pierre, I was actually struggling in a French class and the teacher had taught my older brothers and it’s like, your son’s getting a D. And I was like, I’m gonna be a professional soccer player. It’s one of those things where we always try to emphasize the importance of education. I just didn’t care ’cause I was like, I’m gonna make it. And so I essentially took school seriously and I went from Ds to all As. So I went from being a regular student to being in all honors classes within half a semester because all the teachers were like, “What were you doing?” I was like, “Well, I’m bored.” School was boring to me at the time. So that’s kind of how I got into medicine. And I was like, “Alright, if I’m not gonna be a professional soccer player, what can I be?” And again, I’m from a family of two physicians and I was like, my dad does well. He’s a middle class, African American gentleman, he has nice stuff, I like nice stuff, I guess I’ll be a doctor.
- Just be a doctor, I like it. But you kept the sports part though, you did.
- Yeah, so when I was in my training in internal medicine, I was like, there has to be some aspect of sports that I can do. So I ended up finding out that you could do training in sports medicine and when I did my training almost 10 years ago, it wasn’t as big as it is now. Even as crazy as it sounds, in New York City where there’s so many hospitals, there was only one training program and happened to be where I was doing my training out in Long Island. So I actually did my training in Detroit. I work with the professional sports teams and things like that, and it’s kind of like the enjoyment that I have, I have a lot of friends that are orthopedic surgeons, not surprisingly; the enjoyment they have of fixing something is kind of similar for sports injuries. Someone’s knee hurts, they come see you, you get them better, then there’s that immediate gratification. So that’s also why I decided to train in sports medicine.
- Yeah, but you also did something else. You’re combining sports medicine and anti-aging.
- Right, most people think of anti-aging, it’s something like, human growth hormone or, put in something else or something like that.
- There’s parts of sports medicine, so just in a musculoskeletal aspect of it, there’s platelet-rich plasma injections, there’s stem cell injections. That’s considered the world of anti-aging. In the medical aspect, there are things that help. There’s essentially peptide hormones and testosterone replacement and there’s growth hormone, not something , technically, that has its own spectrum of legality. So it’s not something I’m super interested in, but there are two aspects of it, both the medical aspect and the musculoskeletal aspect that I decided to get into.
- So, I guess what I mean when you link those two and then you link integrative, this is very much not traditional, right? This is not the old, hey doc, my elbow hurts, get me a pill. That’s the normal thing. You’ve linked East and West, you’ve linked sports and anti-aging, all of those together. I mean, that’s gotta be challenging, challenging to get people to get that, right? This is not a normal American thing. And to even have people who work at your wellness center, who get that.
- Yeah, so we got lucky. Some of my colleagues are, I’m gonna be as honest as it is in medicine. So traditional medicine doctors, chiropractors, don’t even believe in them, that it makes no sense. Acupuncture, why would I ever do that? I’ve had such tremendous results by working with great clinicians in my office and it’s one of those things where it completely shaped my practice. You can realize that a patient comes in, and so one of the biggest things in terms of pain management, or let’s say you have neck pain, Larry, and you come in and it’s like, ah, I’m just dying, it’s like a spasm in my neck. My colleagues that are chiropractics and acupuncture can work around that area and literally you could be pain free walking out the office. I’ve had patients that have my best, now I’m thinking of one the stories. One of my best stories is like people injuring a leg and needing to participate in that 5k and being able to do it, when traditionally I’d be like “You strained your hamstring . I can write you a letter to get you out of the race, but there’s not much you can do.” And it’s one of those things where that’s, to me, one of the missing portions of sports medicine is understanding that nontraditional things, the integrative things, the acupuncture, the chiropractors; those things can have a major contributing factor to help people recover and we’ve had amazing results with that at Hudson Wellness. So it’s one of those things where, even in the future, I would see that being something that you may end up seeing. I know there’s chiropractors that work with sports franchises, or even acupuncturists. Maybe you’ll end up seeing they’re being on the sideline for acute injuries at a game or something similar to a medical doctor like I would be.
- You brought up the next thing, which is pain management. And the reason why I bring up the pain management piece is I think this goes even deeper into the idea of wellness because you don’t call, you literally call you center a wellness center, right? That’s what you call it. It’s a wellness and not a hospital or medical facility. You don’t call it that, right? You called it wellness center. And what I mean by this is when someone is in chronic pain, doesn’t it affect every other part of their life? Doesn’t it affect their social life, their emotional life, doesn’t it affect everything?
- 100% and it’s one of those things where pain is such a big thing in America. Obviously we’ve had an opioid epidemic and things like that.
- It’s one of those things where, I think it was 2016, that the opioid, obviously the new thing that’s coming out in the new age thing is CBD and medical marijuana. And why is that becoming so popular is the non-addictive properties of it in terms of just someone’s overall wellbeing. Obviously the neurotransmitter thing that’s getting affected by opioids and the addictive properties, it’s not an ideal thing that we want any of the patients to have. So, the whole thing that a patient has when they’re having chronic pain; they’re depressed, they don’t wanna get out of bed, they don’t wanna exercise, they eat poorly. It’s definitely life-affecting and life-changing, so that’s why it’s one of those things where getting into a idea or a treatment plan, essentially, isn’t just, oh, can I take a couple of pills and that’ll help me feel better? Everyone, thankfully, even the government, is trying to get people away from that, and as crazy as it sounds in the sports world, there is think, I believe the NHL doesn’t even test for marijuana and I have a feeling that other leagues may even do the same thing, which is, hey, you don’t want your athletes addicted to other things for pain control, even your professional athletes. There is so much clinical benefits seen by cannabinoid or CBD and medical marijuana. Why not use that as a way? And again, that’s, again, going towards the integrative way of a treatment plan.
- So, let me go the opposite way. Does exercise, I know that’s a big part of what you talk about, right? Does exercise not only affect your physical health? I’m assuming it also assists in your mental and social health too. It seems obvious to me, but I think a lot of people don’t get that. They think if I just eat right or, if I’m just skinny or whatever, that it’s good enough.
- Yeah. The whole thing about it that I’ve always, it happens to myself. You can’t see, ’cause we’re having a conversation, I’m a six-foot-six, 265-pound physician, so I kinda stand out a little bit. And even myself, when I’ve been busy, exercise, there’s the reason why it’s called a runner’s high. It’s a very, very good thing, and even for myself with the pandemic and I’m working in a hospital, I don’t wanna exercise outside. So anytime I exercise, you feel that immediate rush and my brain feels clear and most people feel that way. You’re getting improved circulation, your heart feels and works better. So it’s one of those things where exercise is so beneficial and it’s one of those things where I have not had a patient in the integrative world, we get patients that exercise all the time and still feel horrible. But the biggest thing is my fatigue, I’m tired, my energy, and they’re not exercising. I mean, that’s just the simplest solution. Usually the people that do exercise, it’s more fine tuning. That’s never as big of an issue. Usually sometimes it’s related to sleep, but it’s definitely not related to necessarily energy and that’s why exercise is so important.
- So let me ask a more personal question now. You said you played soccer when you were in school and then you decided I’m gonna focus more on your studies. So the average high school kid, if they’re in high school, the average high school kid, their hero is, either the cool sports guy or gal of the day or the cool pop culture guy or gal of the day. Was that you, was that who your hero was when you were in high school?
- Dad was always my hero. Dad, okay.
- I was a huge sports fan. Again, I think a lot of my sports and my consumption of sports came from my parents, but more so my brothers and being so close to them. And one of the things that, obviously, during this pandemic, we’re all fortunate enough to see “The Last Dance.” I don’t know if you got to watch it, but it was a story about Michael Jordan and some of the things that they’ve talked about, Michael Jordan and his competitiveness, which I almost felt like I have, is that relationship to having siblings. So having siblings that are obsessed with sports kind of brings that inner athlete or the inner competitiveness in yourself. So that’s why I got into sports. In terms of saying someone’s my hero, Charles Barkley said it, where I felt I was in grade school at the time, I’m not supposed to be your role model, I’m not supposed to be your hero. So I looked at my father for that, but I have tons of athletes, including Michael Jordan, stuff like that that I looked up to.
- So let me ask about your father real fast. Your father, if you look back in those years as you were growing up, was there a specific thing about him that you can think about now, as you look back with some hindsight that was a more motivating factor? Was there a specific aspect or thing about him that, that’s the biggest thing?
- So some of why I got into medicine besides just helping people, it’s just a respect. My father, a great man. He actually, it’s coming on seven years since he passed from cancer. He had a charitable thing at our church where he would do free screenings for the people in the church community. So he was a physician, so one of the biggest things is my dad worked in Brooklyn but we lived in Long Island and he was an OB-GYN. So he was in a private practice and literally the sound of a pager still bothers me to this day because of the amount of times it would be one o’clock in the morning where I’d hear it from my bedroom or four in the afternoon, or you’re in the middle of dinner. My dad would literally have to take up, leave and go deliver a baby. So one of those things that he always instilled in me, the amount of energy and how tired he was and how hard he worked to provide for my family was one of those things, but he also treated everyone with respect. I’ve never seen more random people, like the cleaning person we’d bump into maybe outside of my church; my dad was one of those people that he was really, really beloved by everyone ’cause he was such a nice person. So just the respect that my dad garnered by how he treated people is something that I’ve always tried to be or I try to instill in myself since I was a kid growing up. There’s no, there should never, ever be, there is no ego, everyone’s equal. And that’s one of those things that, especially nowadays with this whole Black Lives Matter thing that everyone’s equal is that the amount of respect that my dad showed and how he was viewed by others and you can notice that as a kid when you see how happy people were to see my father. And I remember one time, it was a guy that worked at his church. Not at his church, at his hospital; a cleaning guy and he was talking to my dad for five minutes and he smiled ear to ear. He was like, “Oh, Dr. Jean-Pierre, I haven’t seen you in such a long time.” And I remember being like, “Oh, that’s super cool.” I’m thinking it’s another doctor and my dad’s like, “No, it’s just a guy at the hospital.” So it was one of those things that I thought was always pretty cool.
- That’s a wonderful story and a great memory of him. My mother also passed about seven years ago from cancer. And my father also passed, but he was very young. I was a kid when he passed. He also passed of cancer. Both did, but when both of them passed, there were two separate ways they looked at life. The first one, when my father passed, he was young. He was in his 40s when he passed. He really wanted to live. He wanted quantity of life, that’s what mattered to him. He was like, cut me open, give me chemo, do whatever you need to do to make me live. Didn’t work, and it took come about two years to die and he still passed. When my mother died, she was older, she was in her 60s. Still too young in my view, but still older. And when she passed, she was the opposite. She was like, I don’t want to have a horrible quality of life. I wanna have a good quality and if that means I die earlier but I get to spend time with my grandchildren, which I, I have daughters; then she was like, fine, I don’t care. She went out with a mask, and this is seven years ago, eight years ago, nine years ago, she went out with the mask to take my daughter to an amusement park even though she was on chemo. She didn’t care, and the doctor said, “You know if you go there and you catch something, you could be finished.” And she was like, “If that’s how I die, okay.” She was about quality of life, two separate issues. When people come to talk to you who are older, who are scared, who are having problems, do you find more people today worried about quality or quantity? Both?
- Both. So in the hospital when I work, it’s one of those things where, so not only do I practice here in New York, but I also travel to work in a hospital. That’s where I was on the front line. And it’s an interesting place. It’s a very small town, average age, there’s certain weeks where all my patients are 90 years old. So I get a 90 year-old who know they wanna live . I had one two weeks ago. He’s like, “No, no, no, I’m good.” Like completely with it. And then we had a 90 year-old like, “Ah, I’m good.” I can even think of a story of a younger person, a lady in her sixties who had a heart attack, one of the most simplest things you do as a doctor in a hospital. And she was done, and I remember it was so abnormal for me. I called her doctor, and again, it’s a small town. The doctor showed up in the hospital to talk to her about it. Like, hey, like this is a fixable thing. She was like, nope. And she was in her 60s too. Everyone’s so different. So it’s one of those things.
- But that quality of life piece that I’m bringing up, I bring it up because I feel like that’s what you’re really about.
- That you’re really about the quality piece, that you have a happy, healthy, mentally healthy, by integrating, that’s why you’ve added sports and anti-aging, that’s why you have both Western and Eastern; because you don’t just wanna keep people alive, you also want them to live well into their old, I mean that’s what I feel. You tell me if I’m wrong here.
- You’re right. The biggest thing is, people can be healthy with their labs, but they’re not healthy inside. So there’s tons of things that need to be improved, and yeah, sure, you can run a marathon, but your sleep is terrible and your stomach hurts, and every time you eat, you’re bloated, and there’s a whole bunch of stuff that can happen that you essentially wanna feel better. And that’s the typical patient that we’re getting in our practice, which was, hey, I’m 35. Am I healthy, am I not healthy? How can I feel better? And that’s one of the major things is that people, some of the things that we’re trying to do is get people to feel the best that they can feel. I do get some older patients, but older patients that are kinda, some of them are stuck in their ways, but the younger patients wanna to have a better quality of life and a lot of people look great on the outside and that’s the whole thing we were talking about with COVID, but in the inside, they’re not doing as well as you would expect. And the traditional labs and the traditional way in which I was taught, again, you’re 35 years old. You’re not gonna have a disease, there’s not going to be much I’m gonna find in terms of a workup, but you realize that there’s so many other layers of things that need to get fixed and that’s why the integrated thing was such an important thing for me to learn and get trained on.
- So, let me go down that road, if I could, even further. There’s a futurist who said, this is probably about three or four years ago. He said he believed that the person who’s going to live to 200 years old has already been born. Do you think that that’s where we are in medicine? That that’s actually possible that people could live to 200 years old? Do you think that’s possible?
- 200’s a stretch, I would say. My hypothesis on certain things, certain things are genetic. We’re just gonna have to keep it honest, which is you’re talking about your mother and my mother also had the cancer recently, so obviously we’re both in families where two parents had cancer. That’s gonna make you have a little bit of a different odds. And that hospital I work at, and I learned it even a couple of years that I’ve been there, you’d talk to a patient, they’re 95 years old, and I’m sure you’ve seen 90 Quite often in the hospital, you’ll see a 70 year-old who can’t tell you up or down or what year it is. But then you’ll have a 94 year-old and they’re sharp as a tack and we’re discussing politics. So what is the difference? So some of it, obviously, is lifestyle. Some of it is what they’re doing. And a lot of it, to me, somewhat is genetics. Is a person gonna be able to live to 200? A person with unfortunately, bad genetics, it’s kinda hard to skip over that, if that makes sense. Because, again, both of us have a higher risk of cancer. We have two parents with it, that’s just a basic thing. But in terms of things that you can do lifestyle-wise, we’re getting ways to get people younger in terms of living longer and being younger. But you’re gonna need a combination of both, you’re gonna need a combination of that person with the perfect genetics, along with all the techniques that are coming out to learn how people live longer to be able to get to that person that lives to 200. But it seems like a hypothetical, it should be able to happen, but there’s a reason why-
- This guy wasn’t a doctor. He was just a futurist who predicts stuff. That’s all I’m saying, he was predicting things.
- Yeah, I was gonna say it sounds like something out of a computer because at certain points, things wear down and it is what it is. And you can only, quite often, when I have talks with families, I always try to explain to them like, oh, this is that and that’s that, and I go, well, that’s a 80 year old version of that. So 80 and 18 or two different ages, and with time and aging, inevitably everything essentially does not stay the same.
- So let me ask you a personal question, let’s assume
- that you’re able to live very long.
- Maybe you’re the guy who lives to 200, you’re that guy. You live that long, right? You live for a long time, you have tons of time, tons of energy, you’re working as a doctor, so you’re making good money. You’ve got time, money and energy. What do you achieve, Dr. Pat? What do you achieve?
- What do I achieve, like, what would I want to do if-
- Yeah, you get to live to 200, you get to have money, maybe not a bazillion dollars, but you got good money, you got good health, you got tons of time. What are you gonna achieve?
- One of the things I always think about all the time, ’cause it makes me think about my dad, my dad was almost a similar, similar to your dad and as crazy as it sounds, even though my dad was in 70s, because he did what I did, which is he trained very hard. He took a very long, hard career in which he didn’t really get to, I mean, we took vacations, but he didn’t. Did he get to take two months off? He worked in New York and not in Europe or something where you get two to three months to enjoy vacation. So one of the things that you always realize is the money and the experiences at the end mean nothing if you don’t help the next generation of people. And one of the major things that we’re discussing and one of the things that I think has come to light with COVID, among many other things I’ve thought about, is we have to do something to change what’s happening with our people, meaning African American people, minorities that are having worsening issues with COVID. And why are we getting worsening issues? Well, COVID is connected to a lot of things. We talked about the mental health thing and how that’s gonna affect you with stress. It’s how do we get ourselves healthier? How do we figure out a way to get-
- So, I’m giving you 200 years, Dr. Pat, what are you gonna do? Come on. What’s your achievement at the end? When you get your lifetime award, lifetime achievement award when you’re 195, when you get that award, what are people talking about in your perfect world? You get that award, what does it say?
- I created a world in which every person essentially understands their overall health and people, again, people smoke cigarettes and one of the hardest things I see in my line of work is cigarette smoking. In the 50s, if you smoked a cigarette, okay, they didn’t know any better. We know better now. So the reason I say this is even two months ago, I had to tell a 55 year-old guy he has cancer, and he was a pack and a half a day smoker. And it’s one of those things where the fact that we don’t have the knowledge, if you with the knowledge still make those decisions, great. But I feel like we have an opportunity for people to understand their overall health at a stage by stage basis. And if by all this being done, I get the achievement award of, oh my God, Patrick developed a system in which now every single patient knows, all right, I’m 45 years-old, I won’t live to 90 . Or, I’m 45 years old, if I keep doing what I’m doing, I’ll live to 65. So almost a way to have a better understanding about people’s overall health. And I think some of it that helps me is being both a doctor in the hospital and a doctor outside of the hospital and understanding how many things can affect people’s longevity. And so, if I’m the person that ends up being the guy that ends up engineering essentially the longevity marker or some of the tools that are used, like the Jean-Pierre tools of longevity or whatever word we’d use for it-
- You’d better trademark that.
- Yeah, I like that idea. Then I would be a very happy person. The biggest thing, especially, is understanding all these things that are available or all these things, that the decisions we make now in our 20s and 30s are gonna affect us in our 40s, 50s, and 60s. Understanding that being healthy now is what’s gonna make that difference longterm and that’s one of those things that, why, for me, there’s ways to hopefully get a healthier country, especially, with certain people.
- It’s funny you say that with my mother. My mother had quit smoking for over 10 years, but it was too late. My mother also was an addict and she was clean. It was too late. The damage that was done from those times, it was too late for her. And again, she was a 100% clean. For 10 years before she had passed, more than 10 years, actually. By the time she had passed, she was more than 10 years a 100% clean. It was too late. And for us, of course, her diagnosis because of that was extra disappointing. I mean, anyone who gets a cancer diagnosis is obviously distraught, right? But we had believed because she had quit everything for so long that she was in the clear now, see?! Now it’s okay. So that diagnosis was even harsher for us than it would be normally. Can you think about a story that disappointed you, that you’ve had over your career with some patient or some loved one or patient that you’ve worked with that really was just disappointing?
- It’s probably the one I think about often, unfortunately, ’cause the patient’s family member works in that town, so I have to see them and interact with them. And it was a patient that I had gotten from another doctor when I just started that week and simple pneumonia, thought nothing of it. Pneumonia is one of the top five things you do as a hospital-based doctor. And with that patient, I essentially was like, oh, you’re doing better, you’ll do okay. She’s like I can’t breathe, okay, no worries. Next day, she’s on the same antibiotics. Oh, I’m not doing that much better, but it should be okay. Now the third day, now this is what I’m essentially, now it’s serious because something’s not adding up, if that makes sense. And I just remember the patient being like, yeah, you know, this happens every once in a while, but I feel like this is it. And I’m like, no, you’re gonna live, you’ll be fine. We’ll change the antibiotics, we’ll put you in the ICU, you’ll be much better. And sure enough, after having that discussion, I guess overnight, she didn’t do that much better. So essentially by the next day when I saw her, she wasn’t doing well. And it was almost like one of those patients that you were talking about. I remember her being in her late 60s and her son had to come into that town. And now I’m talking to the son over the phone about everything and it was kind of, essentially, she went from being just, I thought a normal patient I see all the time to someone who essentially was a hospice patient. And essentially she died within 48 hours. And it was one of those things where, when people ask you as a doctor and you’re giving them that positivity, you wanna be right. You don’t wanna say, oh, obviously certain times you have to be optimistic when you know it’s not the case. But to think of someone like her, and it was, I usually work from Tuesday to Monday and I got there on a Tuesday. I think she’d passed Saturday because I saw her son Sunday. And one of the things that you talk about, why do people get into medicine is, and I’ll never forget it and I think about it almost every time I go in the hospital, is the son was picking up her belongings that Sunday morning when I was there. And he’s like, you know, I gotta tell you, I don’t know what you did with my mother, I can tell how much you cared about her in terms of her care, and then he gave me a hug and he’s like she spoke wildly about how great of a doctor you were, even though this is her end of her life. And that’s one of those things that like, why do you get into medicine and you wanna help people? Because you wanna make a difference and it’s even at her worst, she essentially appreciated what I did, but it still hurts because I still always think about me telling her, oh, you’ll be fine, you’ll be fine. And realizing obviously that wasn’t the way it would’ve happened.
- Well, I mean, you were trying to be like your father.
- Right, I mean, you were being your father, I get it, and you were trying to be good to a woman that you cared about. Now, when you look back at that and now that you have hindsight; when you look back at that, do you think that being positive was still the right thing, even though you may have been wrong in this case?
- It is always the right thing. So one of the things, when you do your training as a doctor and you’re writing notes and it’s a lot of, not busy work, but it’s a lot of work.
- So the less patients you have, the less work it is. And certain times patients stay in the hospital longer than you expect, and honestly, I mean, I have a bright smile, I come into a room and you’re smiling, like, how are you feeling?
- And suddenly they can look their worst and they really had a bad night of sleep or whatever. Like I’m doing good, Dr. Jean-Pierre. So it’s one of those things where having the positive energy helps. Mental health and all of that stuff is big. And one of the things I learned very early on when I was out of my training was even then you’re talking about stress. I would get called, my chest is hurting, my chest hurting. I’ll never forget one lady, her grandson got in a car accident. Oh, I’m having all this chest pain. And I talked to her and I was like, let’s calm down, let’s go over this and I was able to calm her down and we did all the labs and we did the EKG and sure enough, it wasn’t anything. It was just more that amount of stress that made her feel like it was something real, but she had nothing. And I realized, wow, when you’re in a hospital and you’re already sick and then you have increased stressors, one of the first things I always do when I show up to a hospital patient in emergency, like, is everything okay? And sure enough, it doesn’t happen often, but sometimes it’s just even a bad phone call.
- So let me go to that one. You talked about a disappointment. Can you think about one where you kinda thought things weren’t going to go well and they went way better than you expected? Is there a time when that happened?
- Yeah, sometimes it happens with patients that you don’t think they’re gonna do very well. I can think of one where I had to talk to the patient’s OB-GYN. My brother, half brother is an OB-GYN and I remember talking to him in Florida and his dad, wasn’t doing very, very well. And it’s like, do I have to come up to New York for this? And I’m like, oh no, it’s a come up to New York type of event.
- And sure enough, the guy was older, but it was like, I said it’s coming up to New York event and sure enough, he shows up and within the time of a phone call and him landing the next day, the guy was great.
- I love that, that’s a great story!
- He got out of the ICU, this is not ideal for my practice, but I was like, that’s good to see my dad anyway, thank you so much for worrying. And I go, oh, this is not, I wouldn’t. I go, I’ve done this long enough, I wouldn’t call you for this type of situation if it wasn’t a big deal. So you get happy and at times, I can actually think of another one that’s almost better. A lady when I was, I did training and I worked in Detroit. A patient who was just nonresponsive for almost four days, maybe five.
- And so he’s on the breathing machine, he’s not responsive. There’s something called a brain death protocol. It’s kind of when you’re getting patient’s organs, that’s kind of something you have to do to show that essentially the body’s alive but they’re essentially gone. They were essentially almost at that point and I had to see him for some reason. Then fast forward to like three months later and I’m looking at this patient as I’m talking to him and I’m like, you look familiar. He was like, oh yeah, I was in a hospital in a coma for a couple of months. I was like, no, it cannot be the same, and sure enough, it was the same guy. He ended up breaking through and turning the corner and stuff like that. So it’s one of those things where you, when it happens, there’s nothing better as a doctor than when someone pulls through when you didn’t expect it.
- So, let me ask more of a controversial question here. You talked about the major issue of someone being healthy. One of the major issues you mentioned was inflammation; one. But now we’re talking about people who you thought would go and didn’t go, or you thought wouldn’t go and did go. Do you think any part of that was their mental wellness? Does the mental wellness play a significant part in someone’s physical recovery? Or is it look, is it genetics and physical inflammation and that’s it? Or does that mental wellness have anything to do with someone recovering or not?
- It a 100% does. I’m blanking on the name, I believe it was a Netflix movie about a guy who essentially cured his cancer with no treatment except increasing his daily meditation and positive belief. I would have to research and look at his chart to see if that’s possible, but mental health is extremely important. And it’s one of those things where if people are having those positive ideas and thoughts, it’s the reason why they’re finding meditation is so extremely helpful for people’s overall health and wellbeing. So mental health and especially positive thoughts is definitely one of those things that helps. And that’s why it’s one of those things that has to be addressed. Not knowing how it was for your father, for my father, he had some issues with being just upset about his diagnosis and his prognosis. He had something called CLL, which is a leukemia you get and you have a pretty decent life expectancy format, meaning when you get diagnosed to when you pass. But towards the end when he was getting bad, he was just so frustrated. As good as a doctor he was, he was a patient that literally did not have any positive thoughts. I don’t think helped if that makes sense, so it’s one of those things I consider that being very, very important. You see it all the time. And that’s why, again, having positive ideas, having positive thoughts, meditating, praying is another one that we see a lot in the hospital that patients that have a very strong belief in prayer that that does end up helping them overall.
- Well, it’s funny, you said it ’cause both of my parents were very bitter when they were dying. My father, cause he was so young; my mother, because she was clean for so long, in both cases they both were very bitter. They both passed away very bitter, very angry about everything. I think that’s true. I guess the issue is, is there, you mentioned the idea on Netflix of a guy who didn’t do any real medicine, but just dealt with his own issues. But this is the reason for integration, right? This is the overall wellness. You’re saying, if I’m right and you tell me if I’m wrong here, what I’m hearing you saying is wellness is about, it’s about mental health, it’s about physical health combined with genetics, inflammation, it’s everything. Why in the world isn’t the average doctor saying that? Why is your practice special? Why isn’t your practice the norm?
- It’s the aspect of what you’re saying. Again, I learned none of this in my training. So, one of the biggest things I hear, and I went to Cornell and had, essentially, a major in nutrition, which is doctors don’t know nutrition and it’s because doctors aren’t taught nutrition. The mechanic can only fix a Mercedes and a Lamborghini he can’t. I mean, there’s a reason. He didn’t learn how to fix a Lamborghini. Obviously the parts of the same, but there’s different tools that need to be used. So the whole big thing is the tools that are needed, it’s essentially a comprehensive picture. It’s not just, I have a disease, I have this lab, I have this test result, and how do I deal with it? It’s realizing that there’s so many different components that deal with your health. There are genetic components, there are issues with stress and inflammation, there are stuff with your sleep, there is stuff with gut health, there’s stuff about exercise. There’s so many components that help people get healthy, and I’m telling you now you’re not taught it in general traditional medicine. If you have a heart attack right now, or if your mother had cancer, you know, my mother just had breast cancer, I know what steps to take, I’m trained in that. But the whole point of the integrative medicine route is, oh, you have cancer. Are you having cancer because of the way your hormones are processed in your body? These are things not typically done and treated and that’s why having the ability, especially whether it’s regular general medicine or sports medicine, okay, your knee hurts or you pulled your hamstring. Is you pulled your hamstring, just do rehab part of it, or would acupuncture work? I have a chiropractor I work with that literally, if you hurt your shin, she can adjust parts of your shin or your knee, and that can help with the way that you have mobility and stuff like that. So there’s so many different things that are available that just traditional people wouldn’t know about. And that’s what makes me unique is that I have so much of a traditional background and training along with the integrated background and training, as well as using it in practice.
- I love that. Dr. Pat, I wanna say I’m so happy that you came today. Is there something you want to chat about before we wrap this up?
- The only thing, I guess we’re in a pandemic. There’s a whole big stuff about this, there’s a mass controversy. And one of the things I always want people to understand is there’s a level of humanity. And what I mean by level of humanity is that if something that you’re doing can help save someone else’s life, then it’s worth doing. And I guess wearing a mask is one of those things, washing your hands is one of those things. And we’re seeing now these breakouts, and this is the one thing I have to, I have to say this.
- If someone is sick, if you have a disease, you can literally, and someone had mentioned this, it’s almost like drunk driving. You’ll probably be okay, but you’re at risk of killing someone. And so it’s one of those things where people have to understand that, like I was discussing with a friend that’s a surgeon about are people asymptomatic and carrying it and there’s a bar in Michigan. Again, I was in Detroit, so obviously pay close attention to Michigan. It’s bar in Michigan, we’re 153 people got affected from one bar.
- A 153 people. How does that happen? I saw another one in upstate New York or Westchester where there’s a kid that was sick who hosted a party.
- We have to have humanity. I get it, we wanna be out, we wanna have fun, it’s the summer. But a personal story that I always try to tell people about this coronavirus. I have people, how’s the coronavirus? Is it real? The church that my mother attends and my mother essentially was gonna go to that church before I had to go out of town, where it was deemed a pandemic on March 11th. My mom was gonna go to that church I think it was March 15th or 16th, that Sunday. Unfortunately the service continued. Again, it is what it is, they didn’t believe it was real. There were certain other places, it wasn’t the only place. 30 people died from it at that church; 30. Three-zero, there’s 30 people dead
- from that church. So to understand that there’s 30 people dead from that church, you know how many people are dead at least, or most recent numbers I could see, in New Zealand, the country, 27 people died. So the church that my mother attends has more people dead from the coronavirus than an entire country.
- So it’s real and people just need to have humanity and understand that we need to get through this all together. And if it requires you wearing a mask for a couple of minutes at a certain time of day, the thing I keep hearing, it will not affect your oxygen. I wear it for hours at a time in a hospital and you will be fine. Just it’s humanity. And maybe we’ll get to a point where people have a antibody positive mask. So you can understand if it’s not on your nose perfectly, but understand that we’re not at that point yet. And just to have some humanity, ’cause again, you don’t have to be a doctor to care about other people. That’s my biggest thing.
- I love that; you don’t have to be a doctor to care about other people. How could I end this interview any better than that? Well done, Dr. Pat, I appreciate that. Thank you so much for coming on “OFF THE CUFF.” I hope people check you out and thank you for giving us your time and your energy.
- Yeah, absolutely. Thank you so much. You can follow me, my Instagram is thedoctorpjp.
- We will put it all in the notes. Thanks.
- Absolutely have a good one.
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