August 30, 2019

Sonia Oyola recognized for leadership in integrative medicine

We’re proud to share the news that one of our very own Heartland Health Centers providers will receive a Medicine Award from the Health and Medicine Policy Research Group in September. 

Dr. Sonia Oyola headshot

Sonia Oyola, MD, ABOIM is being recognized for her work to expand access to integrative medicine among our patients and in her other work. 

Health & Medicine is a Chicago-based non-profit  that works to improve the health of all people in Illinois by promoting health equity.  Each year they recognize advocates and medical providers who make an outstanding contribution towards improving and promoting access to health care in several categories.  

The Medicine Award is for “an individual whose health care delivery fosters system or institutional improvements.”  Oyola is receiving the honor because of her holistic integrative medicine approach to her practice and teaching at Heartland Health Centers, and the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine as well as in her other community work. Oyola has a nonprofit to help women in domestic violence shelters.

Integrative medicine is care that focuses on the whole person and combines conventional and complementary treatment to address the root causes of illness.  Integrative medicine incorporate food and nutrition, mindfulness meditation, acupuncture, yoga, and other evidence-based approaches. Oyola has helped lead changes at Heartland Health Centers expand integrative care for patients to make it easier for patients to get access to this type of care. 

In addition to being a popular provider at HHC-Touhy, where she sees patients two days a week, Oyola teaches and inspires students at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, where she co-directs the Family Medicine Clerkship and serves as a Clinical Assistant Professor, teaching subjects that include integrative medicine, mind-body medicine, and nutrition.

Oyola has also helped spread the word with public outreach about integrative medicine.  For example, last fall a writer with Chicago Health magazine interviewed Oyola for the article “Out of the Shadows: breaking the silence of domestic violence — and how healthcare providers can help.”  For that story, Oyola told the writer how she uses motivational interviewing to uncover the root causes of health effects. 

She also founded a domestic-violence organization, Be Alright  in 2009 with the purpose of converting Chicago domestic violence shelters into havens of healing.  Be Alright has helped organizations that provide domestic violence services including Apna Ghar, Centro Romero, House of the Good Shepherd, Madonna House, Greenhouse, Su Casa, Maria Shelter and Family Rescue.

Dr. Oyola is low-key about her work with these agencies but has leveraged her relationships to raise significant funds to pay for supplies and services for women and children living at or supported by the organizations.  She has served as a mentor to interns helping to deliver services through Be Alright and also helped to support Heartland’s work to recruit new providers to help build a strong integrative medicine team at Heartland Health Centers. Congratulations, Dr. Oyola!