Hughes Center for Functional Medicine Opens
Feb 27, 2015 09:12AM
By Linda Sechrist
Dr. Pamela Hughes (center) and staff
By age 14, a young “leftie” from Tunkhannock, Pennsylvania, was already imagining her life as a doctor. “Tunkhannock is not a town. It’s a one-stoplight borough with a population of less than 2,000 residents,” quips Dr. Pamela Hughes, who opened the Hughes Center for Functional Medicine (formerly The Perlmutter Health Center) in Naples, March 1.
Hughes not only used her left-handed advantage in high school as the “class athlete”, she also turned it into collateral, using it to fund a portion of her higher education with a scholarship for southpaw college students.
Board certified in family medicine and fellowship trained in functional medicine by the Metabolic Medical Institute (MMI), Hughes puts concerned minds to rest regarding her acquisition of Dr. David Perlmutter’s practice. She explains, “Dr. Perlmutter is not retiring from medicine, only from clinical practice. He will continue to teach, write and do research, as well as provide functional neurology consultation. Even though I have renamed the practice, I am retaining his staff and continuing to offer all the same functional tests, therapies and pharmaceutical grade, non-GMO supplements. The opportunity to continue his traditions and genuine patient care is an honor.”
A small town girl that pursued a big dream, Hughes relates that babysitting the child of a physician provided the inspiration for a career that fits her caring nature like a glove. “The doctor in my hometown, who inspired me, reminds me of David Perlmutter. He, too, was a wonderful family man with a good heart. Time that I spent shadowing him in his practice confirmed for me that I wanted to provide the same genuine care that he did,” says the graduate of the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, who recently moved from Tennessee to Naples with her husband and their 4-year-old son Brodie.
Another source of financial support for Hughes’ medical education was the military, where she received a health professional scholarship. After medical school, she served in the military for six years of active duty and two years of inactive service. “During my third year of medical school, while serving at Tripler Army Medical Center, in Honolulu, Hawaii, I met my husband, David, who was a graduate of The Citadel and an infantry officer at the time,” says Hughes.
The first years of the couple’s long-distance relationship occurred before emails, cell phones and Skype. They corresponded via old-fashioned, handwritten letters. “We have both treasured and kept every letter,” recalls Hughes, whose first assignment after residency was as teaching faculty at Womack Army Medical Center, at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Eventually deployed to Iraq, she served as an emergency medicine physician for the 28th Combat Support Hospital. Hughes and her husband, who was then a team commander for special forces, served overseas at different times. “While I was there, he was back home at Fort Bragg. Due to primarily David’s job, we were apart for five of the first 10 years of our marriage,” she recollects.
In March 2008, David suffered severe injuries when his vehicle was thrown by a blast from an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan. He was evacuated by air to Germany, where Pamela went to join him, and eventually flown to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, in Bethesda, Maryland, and then to the Tampa Polytrauma Rehabilitation Center, in Florida. His pain management and treatment for nerve issues and spinal cord rehabilitation provided the catalytic moments that turned Pamela in the direction of functional medicine.
Not wanting to rely on morphine and valium, which negatively affected David’s ability to do physical therapy, the couple found effective alternatives. Attention to small details, like wrinkled sheets that caused discomfort, made a difference. David’s physical therapist corrected his foot drop (a type of abnormal gait) with a Bioness neuromuscular electro-stimulation system, a Tempur-Pedic bed and an Ekornes stressless chair. He also used supplements, including the Rhodiola rosea herb and methylsulfonylmethane (MSM).
“I love functional medicine because it’s proactive; it allows me to use protocols that complement traditional medicine and focus on health and wellness. I am so blessed. David will soon be starting his new career in land surveying, I have a new practice and our son loves the Florida weather because he can play outside all year,” enthuses Hughes.