A PATTERN, an educational health retreat, is nestled in the beautiful Meramec River region of east central Missouri, only an hour south of St. Louis. The center is located on 20 acres in a peaceful country setting and is capable of accommodating 12 guests in grouped settings or six single occupants.
The staff physician, Dr. A. Scott Grivas, has practiced both conventional and lifestyle medicine for many years and is dedicated to blending both for the best results. The team also includes a registered nurse, a personal trainer and a chef.
The name A PATTERN is an acronym for the eight natural remedies, but the staff say that NEWSTART is usually easier for people to remember.
“What we do here at A PATTERN is basically the plan revealed in our inspired counsels about having a retreat where people can be taken out of the city and enjoy the beauty of nature and work with God’s hygienic remedies rather than just drug remedies—hydrotherapy, the botanical medicines, lifestyle interventions of nutrition, exercise and other therapies,” says Dr. Grivas.
Grivas graduated in 1972 from the University of Texas medical branch in Dallas. He spent two years at the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta as a public health service officer, then completed his residency at Emory University School of Medicine and practiced internal medicine for 12 years.
“During those years in Atlanta I became a Christian and was enjoying fellowship in a local church but I could see we weren’t following all the biblical principles,” says Grivas. To make a long story short, he was thrilled when he learned the beautiful truths of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and was baptized.
“After I was introduced to the Adventist health message I could see that what I was doing was not in harmony with God’s plan for physicians,” explains Grivas. When some of his friends invited him to visit Wildwood Lifestyle Center, about two hours north of Atlanta, he was able to see how hydrotherapy and botanical medicine could be done in a sanitarium setting.
“About five years later I joined the staff of Wildwood and really enjoyed my 25 years there working in lifestyle medicine,” Grivas recalls. “That was the prompting in my heart for coming up here to Missouri and starting a new center in 2015, not only introducing the health message but also helping people to understand the love of Christ and what He wants to do for them in their lives.”
Medically supervised program
A number of patients who come to the center as guests have significant disease processes like diabetes, coronary artery disease and heart failure. While the team emphasizes the matter of lifestyle interventions, it is still very important to take care of those medical needs.
“We have people come with a lot of medications and we can’t just take those away,” says Grivas. “We’ve got to work with them, and as they are introduced to a better lifestyle the drug medications become less necessary and we can gradually start to taper them off as we work with other botanical medicines.” Grivas emphasizes the fact that this is a thoroughly medical program, carefully directed and supervised by trained staff. They collaborate with a nearby hospital to do all the standard medical testing, including imaging and bloodwork.
When guests arrive with depression, anxiety or other emotional disturbances, trained members of the staff work with them giving not only counsel from good medical sources but also biblical counsel.
“Many patients who come are on all kinds of medications and they’re having side effects, so we are trying to reduce the medications when it is safe and watch them to make sure they are improving,” states Grivas. “They usually leave feeling so much better
and with less medication. And some can come off their medications totally. But for an 11-day plan, we are teaching them what they can do at home, following up with their practitioners at home.”
A typical day
For most guests, their day begins with an early morning call from a staff member so they can get up, have private devotions and take a shower if they want to. The first group activity is stretching time. “Many people, especially as they get older, are not very active with housework or gardening. They may walk but they don’t do much stretching,” observes Joyce Grivas, who coordinates the scheduling. “So we have stretching, we have worship, then breakfast which is our biggest meal of the day. After a little walk we have morning class in one of the natural remedies such as using charcoal poultices or fomentations. Then they will have hydrotherapy, followed by our noon meal.”
In the afternoon guests are encouraged to take a longer walk. Next they attend a vegan cooking class where they make things like whole grain muffins or oat burgers. During the evening meeting staff target the specific disease processes their guests are dealing with and talk about causes, symptoms and remedies.
“We try to help them see God is interested in their health and really can make things different for them if they think so,” Joyce points out. “The Bible says that in some places Jesus could do nothing, because the people had no faith. A person really has to believe that this is going to help them. Then the mind operates with the body to help it happen.”
Working with local churches
The team at A PATTERN recognizes that while they help guests at the lifestyle center, that is not their sole focus. “We have a larger responsibility in the city to engage people concerning health matters and trying to introduce them to the Adventist network of churches,” says Grivas. “It’s very important for ministers and physicians to be working together. The Lord has been very gracious and opened doors for a lot of interaction in the St. Louis community.”
They spend time every month doing outreach through various programs, including radio health talks on diseases people need to learn more about—diabetes, cancer, heart disease. They also have hosted Dinner with the Doctor programs and other health presentations in the Central Church, Mid-Rivers Church and West County Church.
Grivas says this “paints a beautiful picture of how God intends the medical work to channel through the churches. We’re not striking off trying to do an independent work. It’s just been a joy to work with our churches in the Iowa-Missouri Conference.”
Dr. Scott Grivas is the vice president of evangelism for the Mid-America chapter of Adventist-laymen’s Services and Industries and his wife, Joyce, volunteers regularly with local disaster relief efforts. They continue to work closely with Wildwood Lifestyle Center in Georgia and Uchee Pines Institute in Alabama.
Watch these videos to learn more about their ministries: outlookmag.org/apattern_health.
A PATTERN Health Retreat, 250 Richter Rd., Bourbon, MO 65441
573.245.6226 or 855.976.1888