Dr. Barhgahi, MD, Delta County Memorial Hospital
Often, we think about medicine in terms of two opposing camps: traditional Western medicine and holistic, integrative medicine. At first glance, the two approaches seem at odds with each other with little to no overlap. However, Dr. Michelle Barhaghi of Delta County Memorial Hospital argues that the two actually go well together.
Dr. Barhaghi is double-board certified in both Obstetrics and Gynecology as well as Integrative Medicine. Through her practice, she offers a unique blend of the two approaches, one that seeks to not only heal physical ailments but to prevent them in the first place. “My practice philosophy is more about focusing on wellness rather than on disease,” she says. “It really is about enhancing your body’s own natural ability to heal and creating an environment where you can optimize that healing.”
Dr. Barhaghi joined the Delta County Memorial Hospital team in October 2019 after running her own women’s health-based private practice in Los Angeles, California since 2013. A Colorado native, she moved back to her home state, seeking a change of pace from big city life and wanting to be closer to the Colorado mountains. She started practicing in Delta County in the fall of 2019. She favors a less toxic, minimally invasive approach to common gynecological problems and enjoys working with a wide variety of disorders including infertility, menstrual irregularities, fibroids, perimenopause/menopause symptom management, and general health maintenance.
“My practice philosophy is more about focusing on wellness rather than on disease. It really is about enhancing your body’s own natural ability to heal and creating an environment where you can optimize that healing.”
Her background in both western and integrative medicines allows her to offer the women she sees unique, well-rounded care. Instead of simply treating the problem, she prefers to look at the patient’s overall lifestyle in order to fix the root cause. In other words, she aims to prevent problems before they begin. “In the West, we tend to try and break everything down to its smallest parts and fix them with the hopes of fixing the bigger picture,” she says. “I like to start with the bigger picture (ie: lifestyle, diet, etc.) and then examine how those things contribute to more specific problems such as disease.” Instead of simply treating the symptoms, Dr. Barhaghi prefers to offer her patients non-pharmacologic alternatives first before employing Western medicine which she still considers essential in many situations.
She emphasizes the need for a “dynamic partnership” between patient and physician, a relationship that allows her to better understand how her patients live, work, and play so she can help them create healthy, sustainable habits such as better diet and regular exercise.
She is most passionate about creating a connection with the women she serves, walking with them through the journey of pregnancy and birth (which she considers a normal, healthy process and not a disease), and then continuing to care for them through later life. She’s most looking forward to developing those ongoing relationships in Delta and considers it her “pleasure and honor” to serve the people of Western Colorado.
Dr. Barhaghi earned her undergraduate degree in Biochemistry/Biophysics and Biology, graduating Cum Laude from New York’s Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute before receiving her Doctorate of Medicine from Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. She completed her residency training in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Tulane University in New Orleans.
Travel has also been a central part of Dr. Barhaghi’s training. She has cared for women all over the United States, including inner city Manhattan and the South Bronx, Oregon, and Los Angeles as well as internationally in New Zealand and South Africa. Traveling has broadened her scope and given her compassion for people of many different ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds as well as an understanding of several different healthcare systems. In addition, she is an active volunteer with Doctors Without Borders, an international humanitarian medical organization dedicated to helping people in countries affected by war or endemic disease. In 2014, she volunteered her talents at a vesicovaginal fistula prevention center in Jahun, Nigeria.
Western medicine and Integrative medicine, although different from one another, can actually enhance each other’s effectiveness, resulting in more responsible care that is less invasive and requires less of a need for medication. According to Dr. Barhaghi, our focus must shift away from merely finding a cure to healing a person’s entire body by helping it come into balance.
Ultimately, she believes that both approaches, used in harmony, give her patients more options, more control over their own care, and better health and wellbeing.