Rose Carter believes in miracles.
Earlier this year doctors found a tumor in her abdomen. When surgeons opened her up, the 69-year-old woman said surgeons removed a rib and part of her kidney, which contained a cancerous tumor. Carter, who lives in Pontiac, Mich., said doctors were able to remove all of the cancer, but she credits her recovery to God and the healers at Gilead Healing Center.
Linda LaBelle, administrator at Gilead Healing Center, told a slightly different version of the story.
¡°A woman came [to Gilead] from Pontiac full of cancer,¡± LaBelle said. ¡°She came back a couple of weeks later totally healed. They can¡¯t find a cell of cancer in her.¡±
Carter said she went to Gilead, which is located on the Mount Hope Church campus on Creyts Road, three times before her surgery on June 11 where she received what she calls ¡°diagnosis prayer.¡± She calls her recovery miraculous.
Carter, who makes the hour-and-fifteen-minute drive to attend Mount Hope Church from time to time with her daughter, said her ¡°spiritual prescription¡± helped her find contentment before her surgery.
¡°I didn¡¯t have any anxiety, any nervousness,¡± she said.
Richard LaBelle, Linda¡¯s husband and minister at Gilead, said, ¡°We believe it¡¯s the power of prayer, God¡¯s healing touch supernaturally. If we pray for someone, and they are instantly healed, we would call that a miracle.¡±
Not everyone embraces such miraculous attributions.
Barry Beyerstein, associate professor of psychology at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, studies what he calls health care ¡°quackery¡± or ¡°pseudoscientific¡± treatments that are offered as alternative medicine, according to his Web site.
In Beyerstein¡¯s article ¡°Why Bogus Therapies Seem to Work,¡± printed in Skeptical Inquirer magazine, he said mistaken correlation is the basis for most superstitious beliefs.
In other words, people often believe that because one event happened before another event, the first must have caused the second.
Gilead Healing Center has its supporters, however. Richard LaBelle said Mount Hope Church was able to raise funds for the 21,000-plus square-foot facility and complete construction in about two years ¡ª something few religious organizations achieve.
The high-tech facility, which resembles a pyramid and is decorated with original artwork and high-tech communications equipment, cost approximately $4 million, LaBelle said.
He said approximately 6,000 people are adherents, or followers, of Mount Hope Church, and of those, about 4,000 regularly attend church services.
Blue Cross Blue Shield donated more than $2 million in medical equipment from a facility that was recently down-sized, the LaBelles said.
Eventually, the facility will offer medical, dental and counseling services to Mount Hope members, the Lansing community and eventually more people.
Priority will be given to Mount Hope Church members who have invested their ¡°blood, sweat and tears in the building,¡± Richard said. ¡°They¡¯ll be charged a fee, but they¡¯ll get a discount.¡±
No insurance allowed
The center is a fee-for-service facility that will not file or accept health insurance claims.
¡°Once insurance gets involved,¡± Richard LaBelle said, ¡°the red tape piles up, and they start to meddle with how you prescribe.¡±
In the future, the LaBelles said they hope to offer medical services to people with hardships. They plan to charge those patients on a governmental hardship sliding scale. For missionaries and ministers, however, treatments at Gilead will always be free of charge.
Although the center is open, it has not started taking medical appointments; administrators are working through licensing and insurance paperwork and expect to open in January.
Also, medical director Scott Hannen, a chiropractor is in the process of relocating to Lansing from Enterprise, Ala.
Richard LaBelle said Hannen practices homeopathic and chiropractic medicine.
¡°He takes a fingernail, a piece of hair, analyzes it and structures and designs a specific nutrient vitamin for you,¡± LaBelle said.
The LaBelles expect to hire a medical doctor or a doctor of osteopathy, an X-ray technician, nurses and, in the distant future, a bio-dentist.
The LaBelles said every patient who comes to the center will be required to maintain his or her own primary care physician. The medical staff will not tell patients to stop traditional medical treatment.
¡°As far as a someone who comes in here with a bag full of prescription medications and is sicker than a dog,¡± Richard LaBelle said, ¡°We¡¯re not going to tell them to get rid of them (the medications). All we¡¯re going to do is present an alternative.¡±
Nor will Gilead staff engage in acute care.
¡°If someone comes in here with chest pains, we are going to send them to the hospital,¡± he said.
And what if Gilead¡¯s alternative remedies do not help someone who, for example, has high cholesterol?
Richard LaBelle said if the patient follows the diet, exercise and nutritional supplement advice of Gilead¡¯s medical staff, that won¡¯t happen.
¡°To get to the point to say, ¡®What if that doesn¡¯t work?¡¯ I don¡¯t think we¡¯ll get to that,¡± he said. ¡°We¡¯re just going to take an alternative kinder, gentler approach.¡±
The LaBelles do not worry about alienating people who may be leery of homeopathic healing and alternative medicine.
¡°When you are sick with something such as cancer … and you are desperate, you are willing to go anywhere and do anything,¡± Linda LaBelle said. ¡°The only concern that I think I would have is that people don¡¯t mix it up with the weird stuff.¡±
¡°I can¡¯t worry about people¡¯s opinions,¡± Richard LaBelle said. ¡°They¡¯ll have to come here and find out. And we¡¯re not weird. There will be people who think that. There will be people who think we are snake charmers. I can¡¯t help that.¡±