Fashion / Wellness

New River Oaks Clinic Looks to Redefine Heath Care With Futuristic Practices and Top Doctors — Your First Look at Sydenham Clinic

A PaperCity Exclusive

BY // 07.16.20
photography Julie Soefer

The most exciting take on proactive, precision medicine with integrated wellness is making its global debut in Houston. Introduce yourself to Sydenham Clinic, a concept that boldly aims to redefine health care in the 21st century.

Named for 17th-century British physician/scientist Thomas Sydenham, the River Oaks clinic focuses on private health management — a term we’ll hear more and more in the decades to come.

Donning a mask and social-distancing, I took a tour just weeks after Sydenham unveiled its space and met three of the principals at the light-filled 5,600-square-foot clinic, which wraps around a courtyard. This avant-garde approach to medicine is backed by state-of-the-art science guided by chief medical officer Dr. Terry Rice, who brings 35 years of expertise to the post, including the medical directorship of MD Anderson Emergency Center.

Dr. Rice heads the Sydenham dream team assembled by CEO Aanchal Bhatia and managing partner Shaheed Kajani.

The  clinic — which Aanchal Bhatia believes is about 17 years ahead of mainstream treatments — puts into practice individualized health programs based on a blend of genomics, sleep monitoring (with biofeedback Oura rings), hormonal evaluations, and physiological and cognitive assessments.

Sydenham Clinic makes its global debut in Houston. Its unique concept pairs precision medicine with a humanistic, and state-of-art approach to wellness. (Photo by Julie Soefer)
Sydenham Clinic makes its global debut in Houston. Its unique concept pairs precision medicine with a humanistic, state-of-art approach to wellness. (Photo by Julie Soefer)

The focus is patient-tailored medicine. Individual plans are designed to precisely target genetic predispositions, take rigorous medical and wellness measurements, then create custom, curative approaches via nutrition, lifestyle and stress management, movement and fitness, and awareness of life balance.

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The endgame is healthy longevity.

Personal experiences in the health care system led Bhatia — a clinical psychologist by education and author of Your Doctor Is Not God: How to Be the CEO of Your Own Health — to begin planning the Sydenham concept five years ago. She met Kajani, an international real estate executive who was a neighbor, in Houston. Together, they share a global, big-picture idea of the future of medicine, one mixed with altruism.

A Latin phrase (the translation of The Golden Rule) graces the clinic entrance. The goal for the coming decade, Bhatia says, is 150 clinics worldwide, each topping off at 1,000 members.

“Health is by choice, not by chance. Let’s choose well,” the CEO inscribes in a copy of her book. The clinic’s Concierge Program provides privileged access to esteemed institutions such as Johns Hopkins Hospital, Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic via Texas Medical Concierge (another business Bhatia founded), as well as comprehensive medical-records management.

Sydenham has even tapped James Beard Award-nominated chef Monica Pope, pioneer of Houston food culture and the farm-to-table movement, as curative culinary director, and MD Anderson Cancer Center Integrative Medicine professor Dr. Alejandro Chaoul (founder/director of The Jung Center’s Mind Body Spirit Institute) as mind body practices director.

With interiors designed by Lucinda Loya and art curated by Davis Cohen Art (an art advisory service led by husband-and-wife painter Joseph Cohen and curator/appraiser Lindsay Davis), Sydenham is the antithesis of an antiseptic, impersonal medical office. Its walls for example includes such heavy-hitters as painter Mark Flood, who’s known and collected nationally and internationally; Flood’s a cult figure in the Texas art world, with a buzzy Contemporary Arts Museum Houston solo to his name in 2016.

Coming soon? A new podcast hosted by Bhatia — and recorded at Sydenham Clinic — titled Life Sutras.

Annual memberships at clinic from $10,000. Sydenham Clinic, 2621 Joanel Street, 713-629-6288. Find additional info here

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