The past year has been a whirlwind of discovery, care and community - and it all started with a baby.
In 2017, I was in the pink of health and leading an active lifestyle - but when I fell pregnant, I began to feel extreme lethargy. While this isn’t uncommon during pregnancy, it also didn’t feel ‘right’. My once-normal blood iron levels had dropped drastically, and despite taking oral supplements, my symptoms did not improve. Interestingly, a study in Singapore had also found that 75% of women experience similar symptoms during pregnancy.
A blood test soon confirmed what my husband, Tim Cushway, and I had suspected – severe iron deficiency. However, my obstetrician was reluctant to increase the intensity of my medical regime. I ultimately sought assistance from an overseas medical provider, who administered intravenous iron. A short 48 hours later, I saw a 180 degree change in myself. I went from being unable to walk the 1.5km commute to work to managing a daily 10km walk, and feeling much more like myself.
The birth of The Iron Suites
This experience motivated me to do a little more research into iron deficiency in women. It is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies and nearly 10 times more common in women, due to regular menstruation. Symptoms (regardless of gender) include fatigue, hair loss, headache, poor concentration and overall reduced physical performance. Furthermore, humans are fully reliant on external sources of iron (such as through diet) as our bodies cannot produce it. In Singapore, one in three women are iron deficient, and may experience worse symptoms when pregnant.
I decided that I wanted to offer women in Singapore the same opportunity to experience the turnaround I did. Tim and I launched The Iron Suites in 2017 to make intravenous iron infusions more accessible to women - and it wasn’t long before we witnessed impressive results. Many patients shared personal stories of improved performance and a better understanding of their body. One even credited our care team for motivating her to find a new job after her retrenchment, now that she had the energy to do so.
From Iron, to Integrated Medicine
These stories and connections at The Iron Suites pushed Tim and I to further explore ways of creating a bigger impact on people’s health. Collaborative work and care has always been a passion of mine, and this sparked the idea to go beyond iron therapy and address the holistic wellbeing of our patients.
As the local population is an ageing one - many of whom experience chronic illness and poor lifestyle habits - we wanted to offer a pathway for care to move upstream, in a preventative way, before acute incidences occur. Our plan to combine Western medicine with integrative medicine was ambitious (during the peak of the pandemic, no less). We faced challenges in finding like-minded physicians to come on board, and acceptance among the wider medical community - as a place like this has never existed in Singapore before. We also realised there needed to be greater awareness of nutritional and holistic health, alongside medical services. It took a while, but we eventually managed to create a space that met the necessary regulatory requirements and addressed our patients’ care needs.
The Integrative Medical Centre (INMED) opened in mid-2021 with an experienced multidisciplinary team of health experts in medical services, nutritional health, osteopathy, paediatrics, dietetics, naturopathy, iron deficiency, physiotherapy and more. I got pregnant with my third child around the same time and became a regular at our clinic. I was very fortunate to have access to personalised dietary advice, close nutritional monitoring, women’s health physiotherapy and more, all under one roof. Not only was my stamina during pregnancy pretty decent this time around, but the convenience of having everything in one place saved me the hassle of travelling to multiple places for care!
The heart of INMED lies in collaborative care, and that is something all our practitioners embrace. This could be anything from corridor discussions, patient case study analyses, to sharing holistic care best practices beyond the facility, by conducting external talks for medical professionals and working with them to coordinate care for patients. Even our patients have become friends!
I am so heartened to see the space we designed so intentionally become a stepping stone in empowering patients to take greater charge of their care. We hope that every person who steps into INMED can find their unique journey to achieving their personal health and wellness goals, with a little support and guidance from us.
If you wish to find out more about how we can help you take charge of your health, please visit us at https://www.theintegrativemedicalcentre.com/ or get in touch with us via phone +65 6702 1929 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.