FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — A new institute at Fayetteville State University aims to treat the military, veterans and their families in nontraditional ways.
The Collaborative Institute for Interprofessional Education & Practice will combine resources from the schools of nursing, social work and psychology to treat people suffering from chronic pain or post-traumatic stress.
The institute, which begins accepting referrals Tuesday, will focus on a holistic approach to behavioral health, including alternative therapies, such as massage therapy and acupuncture, officials said.
The treatment will be free, said Dr. Sheila Cannon, clinical director of the program, which will begin by serving between 15 and 20 patients.
Jon Young, FSU provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs, said the institute highlights the university's collaborative efforts and its community outreach.
"This project builds upon our longstanding commitment to serving this community," he said.
The initiative was unveiled at a ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday that included a tour of the facilities, on three floors of the university's nursing building.
Zetar Lee, a disabled veteran who attended the ceremony, said she looks forward to seeing if the alternative treatments can help her.
Lee said she suffers from depression and back pain caused by degenerative joint disease. She served more than 10 years on active duty and another 11 years in the Army Reserve, retiring in 2010 as a staff sergeant.
"It sounds like it could help," said Lee, who criticized her current treatment. "I'm not getting anything right now. All I take is pain pills, pain pills, pain pills, pain pills.
"I'm only 49 years-old. I have my whole life to live. If I can get better, I'd like to get better."
Dr. Afua Arhin, program director and chairwoman of the school's nursing department, said the program started as a simple idea that grew with the help of university administrators and local partners.
It's funded with a three-year, $1.1 million grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Elizabeth Goolsby, director of the Fayetteville Veterans Affairs Medical Center, said the program will serve as a creative laboratory.
Dr. Harold Kudler, associate director of the VA's Mid-Atlantic Mental Health Illness Research, Education and Clinical Center, said the initiative could later be imported to the Fayetteville VA.
The initiative is cutting-edge, university Chancellor James Anderson said
"There is no reason it can't work and it can't be successful," he said.