The philosophy of caring for the whole person started at Clifton Springs Hospital when Henry Foster, MD, founded a "Water Cure Sanitarium" in 1850 on the site of mineral springs, which had been used by generations of Native American healers. Recognizing and maintaining a deep commitment to his understanding of the interconnectedness of body, mind, and spirit, Dr. Foster incorporated the best of many therapies including conventional Western medicine practices, natural medicine, hydrotherapy, and homeopathy, during the time he owned and supervised the hospital. Guests came from all over the country and the world for rest and renewal at the Clifton Springs Sanitarium.
For a century, the healing waters and natural therapies were utilized for a wide variety of conditions, both as "medicine" as well as rejuvenation and relaxation. In the 1950's, a shift away from natural remedies took place. With technological advances in medicine abounding, the hospital closed the baths and focused on the Western medical perspective.
Engaging the vision of using the waters and natural therapies, the Integrative Medicine Center & Spa grew from the personal experience of a Clifton Springs' nurse who was diagnosed with breast cancer. She followed the advice of her physician colleagues, under-going surgery, chemo-therapy and radiation; but as she experienced these treatments, she recognized that she needed more for her healing to be complete. She recognized that Western medicine could not address many of her needs, and added therapies which included guided imagery, prayer, yoga, massage, Reiki, humor, diet, Chinese Medicine and acupuncture.
Re-emerging awareness of the body-mind-spirit connection has brought Clifton Springs Hospital "full circle." On the 150th anniversary of the founding of the hospital, Clifton Springs Hospital & Clinic opened The Springs to again offer therapies that focus on the health and healing of whole persons. The plan from the beginning was to bring back the waters for healing and to integrate other evidence-based therapies. In November 2004, a wing of the Hospital was renovated for the current site of The Springs, offering the mineral waters with many other therapies. The goal of The Springs Integrative Medicine Center is to bring all of these gentle, healing therapies to patients in the hospital, residents of the nursing home, and the whole community.
For more information on Clifton Springs History, visit The Foster Cottage Museum website.
SPA: 'Sanitas per Aqua' or 'health through water'
In Europe, 'spa' is historically associated with healthcare. Europeans have used mineral waters for thousands of years for their healing properties. The city of Bath, England, got its name from the mineral baths that have been in use at least since Roman times. While certain springs are associated with providing relief from arthritis, others focus on skin health and therapy for conditions such as psoriasis. Spas near the Mediterranean focus on the healing properties of mineral-rich seaweed and seawater. Spas near rich moor bogs use the thermal mud for their pain-relieving, detoxification, and metabolic effects. In all these locations, doctors oversee the entire spa visit and coordinate appropriate use of services. Medical treatments, hydrotherapy, massage and other rejuvenating therapies are offered under one roof. Some national health insurance plans will cover spa therapy for extended durations up to six weeks.
The Springs uses the term 'spa' in the European tradition... we are an Integrative Medicine Center offering the best treatments associated with nature within a hospital setting.
New York State has a rich history of the use of mineral springs for healing, and during the Victorian Era, "taking the waters" was a summer-time ritual across the state. Each spring site had distinctive mineral composition specializing in treatments for specific conditions. Clifton Springs is designated as a sulphur mineral spring, making it especially therapeutic for conditions such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, other musculoskeletal pain conditions, respiratory infections, and skin conditions. Soaking in sulphur-rich mineral water has anti-inflammatory, analgesic (pain relieving), and antibacterial effects.
The historical traditions of using mineral waters therapeutically (the technical term is balneotherapy) diminished in the United States over the years. Although there are active mineral springs throughout the country, many of them geothermal springs, most of them are not associated with medicine as we know it today. In Europe and countries like Israel, Russia, Japan, and Korea, balneotherapy is widely recognized as a therapeutic tool, and is not only used regularly, but a significant amount of research is conducted on the therapeutic use of mineral waters, seaweeds, muds, and salts. Some countries include treatment at a spa as part of the national health insurance coverage for certain medical conditions like osteo- and rheumatoid arthritis, particularly those employing sulphur mineral waters.