An Interview with Carey Davidson, Founder/CEO Tournesol Wellness
The first thing everyone says when they meet Carey Davidson, the founder and CEO of Tournesol Wellness in NYC, is how calm and soothing she is and that simply being in her presence calms and sooths us too. But underneath this petite calm exterior is a dynamo who is on a mission to change traditional healthcare to an integrated approach where the patient is at the center with access to the best in traditional and non-traditional medicine with a coach helping to manage their well-being. Her dream and vision for a better way came to fruition when four years ago, she founded Tournesol Wellness in New York City.
So how did this single Mom, with a background in human resources, create a revolutionary health care approach which she has literally bet the ranch on? We had a chance to sit down with Carey and were so inspired by her story, we wanted to share it with you too.
The Link between Productivity, Health and Happiness
Carey’s path to wellness and happiness started unexpectedly when she found her way into human resources (a big departure from her film degree) shortly after she got married. She was the bread winner while her husband went to law school at Columbia University, and she discovered if she went to work there, he could get a tuition exemption, so she accepted a job in the HR department. She was quickly promoted and by the age of 22 was head of HR for the undergraduate school, which in those days was basically about hiring and benefits. But what she found was that people would come into her office and pour out their hearts about what was frustrating in their lives and work. That was when she realized there was a link between sadness, productivity and turnover. With the dean’s permission she put together a team from the organizational psychology group and created programs that dramatically reduced turnover by increasing employee happiness.
After 11 years at the school, and with her second child on the way, she decided to become a stay-at-home Mom – which as she says lasted about a minute and she soon became involved in non-profits for children with cancer and grant writing. But then her marriage imploded and she had to go back to work – this time at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. Her work with an art therapy group for children at risk is when she started to see our health system in a different light.
“I had experienced things in the health care system that were frustrating, but hadn’t thought about it. So here I was in the hospital where kids got 45 minutes a week of art therapy. The kids lit up and it was a great experience. I thought how do we make sure this continues for the rest of the week and how can their parents help them grow.”
The medical model doesn’t match why we get sick.
While this one program was really working, the kids then went back to the hospital silo system environment that reinforced the negatives, so Carey started to explore how to build a sustainable integrated healthcare model. She started to look at the traditional health care approach from a system perspective. How can this silo approach to health care and medicine be fixed, why do we get sick, and what’s the impact of stress on our health.
The traditional medical model is how many people we can treat in an hour. It’s about the profit and not the patient. If the system was going to change, there needed to be a central someone to manage people’s care across all aspects of health and wellness including alternative therapies too.
By now she had been at the hospital for 4 years, and out of her marriage for 2, and was really starting to understand holistic and integrated modalities. She also started to realize her own intuitive ability to help people.
Integrated Vs. Conventional Care
Carey says, “The cool thing about holistic modalities is that it reinforces our ability to take care of our own life! With conventional care we give our care over to doctors which means a bottle of pills or surgery. With holistic choices also available, we can take back our power.”
She adds, “I learned in my healing after my divorce that I had a choice every day – and I had to work at it. I’ll be happy today, I’ll be healthy today – rather than complaining, poor me and getting sick. And I was open to this intuitive ability to see energetically how we get sick, and how we can shift out of that.
So I started to write a business plan for Tournesol with the focus of one person managing all the health points for the patient and focusing on what makes us sick and what keeps us healthy.
She Bet the Ranch
Carey’s model was to create a center where all the mind, body and medical at the primary care level would all be in one place with one person managing the conversation. And NO one was doing this. So Carey decided she would be the revolutionary and literally sold her home, cashed in her 401K plans, moved her kids into an apartment, and pursued her dream which is now a reality at the Tournesol Wellness Center.
Here’s how the integrated approach works
The program has a top medical doctor who is an integrative internist who will spend 45 minutes to an hour with you. And the good news is he takes most insurance. There is a naturopath, who is a certified nutritionist, hypnotist and cognitive behavior therapist. And then there is an integrative nurse coach – a new field, and she ties it all together with the patient’s best interests in mind.
When you visit them, you will receive a full medical checkup with appropriate blood panels taken too. When all the results are back, all three of these individuals – the doctor, naturopath, and the nurse coach – will conference on the patient. What they all saw, what they all recommend, what the patients preference and goals are, including how much time and money the patient is willing to invest in wellness. The nurse delivers the plan to the patient for discussion, and she becomes your case manager.
Is It Affordable?
Okay, so this sounds like something only the rich can afford so we were surprised that the health assessment and personal plan are actually very affordable, which was an important goal for Carey. She found a top notch doctor who takes insurance, and has a blood lab on site so all those tests are covered. The naturopath and the nurse and the assessment plan costs $750. And even that cost is reimbursable under some plans, or with flexible spending accounts. The patient then has the option to choose from about 20 different holistic/alternative therapies, all available at the Tournesol center, under the guidance of the nurse coach and the knowledge of the doctor. And with the doctor’s recommendation, some of those services are covered by insurance too.
The Ala Carte Holistic/Alternative Services
Many of Carey’s clients come to Tournesol strictly for the range of holistic and alternative services rather than the primary care services. Services include a psychotherapist, mind and body programs, Reiki, flower essences, tapping, yoga, meditation and many more. And our personal favorite, the Vibroacoustic cellular massage experience. (More below.)
Who Comes to Tournesol
Carey says there are three buckets: women who are 40+ who want to work on prevention and how to stay healthy and age well; people who have chronic disease management issues and haven’t found relief through conventional models and meds; people with emotional stress and anxiety (usually younger people in their 20s and 30s) in very high stress jobs who want to learn how to make tomorrow better. They want a better life.
Vibroacoustic Therapy – A Cellular Massage
The head tomato recently experienced this therapy at Tournesol and has been singing its praises ever since. You walk into a room with a massage like table in the center that actually feels like you’re on a waterbed. And then, depending on what ails you, Carey selects a disc that is programmed for specific vibrations and music that create what is in essence a cellular massage. The head tomato spent one hour on the table and said it was the most relaxing experience where all stress disappeared and she felt physically and mentally better immediately – and that feeling lasted for a few days. Carey reports that many people who use this treatment have found relief from arthritis, insomnia, migraines, anger, and back pain. Check out the video.
Respect, Kindness and Love
Carey and Tournesol have a wonderful, loyal client base who have found a home and community of respect, love, and people who really listen to them. When’s the last time you felt that in a traditional medical setting?
Tournesol Wellness 26 East 36th Street, New York, NY 10016, (646) 395-1114