PUTNEY -- About seven years ago, Thomas Garbarino began treating patients with acupuncture and Chinese herbs.
His client list grew, and as he became more established in Putney he began to envision an expanded health care and education center that would link patients with a variety of health-care practitioners.
The center, he imagined, would also have room for classes, and would offer space for yoga, tai chi chuan and other movement therapies.
Now, after summoning the courage, and financial resources, to take the next leap, Garbarino, and his partner, Adrienne DeGuevara, have opened their new office, Medicine for the People, at 125 Main St., in the Carriage House behind Town Hall.
The new office has enough room for seven practitioners who specialize in midwifery, Thai massage, reflexology, acupuncture and oriental medicine, shiatsu and nutrition and herbs.
The office also has room for meditation, tai chi and yoga.
Garbarino and DeGuevara, who does traditional Thai massage and craniosacral therapy, worked near each other in another building in Putney and over the past few years they began talking about coming together to create a bigger clinic that could accommodate their practices as well as other health care workers in the area.
"About two years ago we decided that we wanted to do something more here in Putney," DeGuevara said. "Our business has been slowly growing and we were outgrowing our office. There was a lot more we wanted to do."
When they found out there was going to be a larger space available in the Carriage House they decided it was time to take a risk and expand their business.
The space at 125 Main St. has been transformed into a health care center with four treatment rooms and a large yoga studio.
The calendar is already full with a week's worth of classes.
"With more space we are able to do so much more," Garbarino said. "In the long term we want to offer even more classes and workshops. We want Medicine for the People to be an education center, as well as a place to come get treatment."
The practitioners at Medicine for the People offer a wide range of services and Garbarino stressed that the treatments that are offered do not have to take the place of traditional western medicine.
He said he routinely works with patients who are seeing their doctors but who also want to experiment with less familiar natural and traditional medicine.
Garbarino, for instance, says he has had success working with people with Lyme disease, often while they are receiving antibiotics from their doctor.
"We see everyone," he says. "We see people who are disenchanted with Western medicine as well as people who are at a point where the simply want to try something different."
DeGuevara says back when they began talking about becoming partners, she and Garbarino imagined a business that was greater then just the sum of their practices.
Now that the office is open she says Medicine for the People wants to connect with other businesses in Putney to strengthen the entire downtown economy.
"Everything we do here is meant to treat the person and not the disease. The idea is to prevent disease and treat the whole person," DeGuevara said. "This has been our vision all along. It just took us a little while to get here."
Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-254-2311, ext. 279.