Publishers Weekly Covers A Return to Healing 


From PW Web Exclusives, August 17, 2009:

A Return to Healing: Radical Health Care Reform and the Future of Medicine

Len Saputo with Byron Belitsos. Origin (AtlasBooks, dist.), $21.95 (272p)

After his wife was cured of a critical illness through natural therapies, M.D. Saputo retrained his career on the principles of integrative medicine. Here, he pitches his plan as a holistic four-stage approach to health: lifestyle management (including diet, exercise and spirituality); complementary and alternative medicine (acupuncture, herbal medicine, etc.); thorough testing; and, lastly, a sparing role for pharmaceuticals and other, more invasive methods. Pushing back against physicians who have “essentially become employees of large business conglomerates,” Saputo says that Americans’ “lavish use of pharmaceuticals” isn’t helping, just making them dependent. Saputo discusses competing models of healthcare before turning his attention to the business of it, finding the profit motive largely to blame for the industry’s “dire condition.” Based on experience in his own clinic, Saputo proposes a five-part plan to improve healthcare, including subsidies for sustainable agriculture, taxes on unhealthy foods, and requiring, as part of patients’ medical right-to-know, full disclosure of all scientifically verified treatments, including “alternative” methods. Doctors and patients will appreciate Saputo’s conviction, energy and clear-eyed approach to the complicated issue. (Sept.)


From Publishers Weekly, August 17, 2009:

The Heal Deal: New Health Titles
New health titles range from the political to the practical

by Sarah J. Robbins

. . . After 30 years in private practice in internal medicine, Len Saputo reacted to the flaws he saw in the system by founding the nonprofit educational foundation the Health Medicine Forum. There he began crafting his vision for a medical system focused on holism, prevention and service; those ideas are now presented in A Return to Healing from Origin Press. Recently Saputo and his coauthor, Origin Press publisher Byron Belitsos, spent two weeks on Capitol Hill, lobbying on behalf of the ideas in the book. “One could sense, with each meeting we had, how gridlocked Congress is with special interests,” says Belitsos. “How it has wholesale adopted the industry point of view on the issues.” While Saputo is also pessimistic about current reform efforts—“There are so many politics involved, we can’t get to the issues,” he says—he is optimistic about long-term possibilities: “Things have gotten so bad that we’ve actually come out of our coma, and maybe, just maybe, we’ll be inspired enough to bring America to a place where the social transformation is real.”


New Consciousness Review

“This is an immensely important book at this time of national debate on the future of health care in America…A Return To Healing needs to be read by every politician, medical practitioner and citizen. It is a manifesto for what health care should be, and what it can be with honest and intelligent reform.”
—Miriam Knight, New Consciousness Review

This is an immensely important book at this time of national debate on the future of health care in America.

While Dr. Saputo may be rushing into a political melee where even angels fear to tread, he is certainly no fool. An internal medicine practitioner for forty years, he began to see another side of medicine when medical science failed his wife, condemning her to a downward spiral of drugs and steroids. In desperation, they began to research and employ alternative therapies, and she was eventually able to regain her health.

When Dr Saputo shared his results with his medical colleagues, their reactions ranged from indifference to hostility. This was a major wake-up call to someone who had dedicated himself to being a healer. How could these doctors turn their collective backs on treatments that could relieve suffering? They had all sworn the Hippocratic Oath, “First do no harm…”, yet they closed their minds to a promising treatment protocol, just because it was not part of conventional medical practice. Dr. Saputo embarked on a mission to put the wellness of his patients ahead of the medical orthodoxy of the system and offer them the best healing practices from both conventional and alternative medicine.

In order to do that he had to create a new model of “health care” radically different from the “disease care” practiced today. To do so he faced the censure of his colleagues, the state medical board and even legal challenges. All he wanted to do was to offer his patients a choice regarding their own health care. (Sound familiar?)

The first part of the book cites chapter and verse about the incestuous relationship between the drug companies and doctors, researchers and politicians; it describes how hospitals and health insurance companies have morphed from service industries to profit-driven corporations, and all of them together have created the failed system we have today. He quotes one hair-raising fact after another from sources like respected medical journals, the Congressional Record, the World Health Organization and the National Institutes of Health:

  • Medical mistakes are the leading cause of death in US
  • No more than 15% of medical interventions are supported by reliable scientific evidence, The FDA approved bad drugs like Vioxx and Lupron, that cost tens of thousands of lives, but 90 studies that showed that vitamin D from sunshine reduces cancer risk by 50% have been suppressed
  • Half of all bankruptcies in America are due to medical bills
  • By 2017, 1$ out of every 5$ spent, will be on health care
  • The US spends more money per capita than anyone, but is #37 in health outcomes in the world, just above Slovenia and Cuba

Dr. Saputo has created a group practice through considerable trial and error that offers a fascinating model that could revolutionize health outcomes, patient and doctor satisfaction, and still be more economical than the current system. He calls it “Integral Health Care”, adapting the philosophy of Ken Wilber. Depending on the needs of his patients, Dr. Saputo wants to shift the priorities from disease management focused on drugs, expensive diagnostics and surgery, to health management, starting with prevention and health education, then the greater use of gentler alternatives like herbs, chiropractic, acupuncture and guided imagery, with drugs and surgery as options of last resort.

His practice has pioneered the use of Healing Circles that include the patient, his/her health champion (the lead practitioner) and a panel of other complementary practitioners relevant to the particular case. Both patient and doctor satisfaction have soared with this approach. The problem is that the insurance companies will not cover much of it, even though it is cheaper and more cost effective, so this kind of enlightened health care is only available to those who pay out of pocket or pro bono.

Dr. Saputo thinks that a single payer insurance system would be a big step forward. The present system is untenable. It is as bad for patients and doctors as it is for the economy and the national deficit. It is time for an informed public to pressure the politicians, who seem to be paralyzed by the fear of losing campaign funding from Big Pharma and the rest of the medical-industrial complex.

This book needs to be read by every politician, medical practitioner and citizen. It is a manifesto for what health care should be, and what it can be with honest and intelligent reform.


We Should Get Medical, Not Political / August 12, 2009
Tony R. Rodriguez

With the Obama administration incessantly making headlines with their grandiose visions for the future of national health care, it seems many politicos on both sides of the aisle are pushing a heavily layered political agenda. A growing number of Americans seem to be stricken with uncertainty when listening to the debates surrounding Capitol Hill. Perhaps one can assume that various politicians are missing the linear view of America’s dire need for radical change in health care. So let’s all consider A Return to Healing: Radical Health Care Reform and the Future of Medicine by Len Saputo, MD, with Byron Belitsos.

Saputo and Belitsos don’t inundate the health care debate with dribbled political language all too commonly used by Washington or learned pundits from San Francisco to New York. Rather, Saputo and Belitsos comprehensively lay out what they believe to be a radical, yet direct and tangible view for recognizing the future of health care. A Return to Healing addresses many topics deeply seeded in our nation’s health care debate. Most notably of which would include whether or not current mainstream medicine is productive; the realities of market-driven health care plans; and the troubles with big pharmaceutical companies and their ties to Congress and physicians and various medical institutions. And so on.

Saputo and Belitsos partner to bring to the masses their inclusive discussion on the progressive changes needed to take place in today’s American health field. These two are not political, they’re medical. They’re not agenda-based, they’re reality-based. And though their book’s title may suggest that their views may be radical, they’re far from the extreme. Saputo and Belitsos are merely two qualified spokespeople who are getting more and more Americans aware of what’s really going on in our nation’s health care systems.


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