Functional medicine is a modern approach to healthcare that seeks to address the underlying causes of disease, rather than just treating acute symptoms. Practitioners of functional medicine take a more patient-centric approach to your care by viewing you as a whole person—with an integrated body—as opposed to just an isolated set of symptoms.
How functional medicine is different
The movement of functional medicine grows out of an increasing need for today’s doctors and nurses to be able to address complex health issues. Unfortunately, much of today’s conventional approach to health care is oriented for acute care that seeks to treat a patient’s immediate symptoms over addressing the root causes of those symptoms.
Time With Patients
Due to hospital patient quotas, many doctors in today’s conventional medical systems simply do not have the time to adequately examine the complexities of each patient’s health. In some of these settings, patients average less than 10 minutes with their doctors.
As a functional medicine practice, we spend at least 90 minutes with each of our patients on their initial visits. The average visit after that is 30-60 minutes. We take the time to ask thorough questions and to listen in order to gain an in-depth understanding of the root causes of your body’s dysfunction.
Without a doubt, our collective knowledge grows each year about how to better care people’s various health needs. Yet, it can often be decades before new medical research makes into the common practice. Additionally, doctors in conventional medical systems rarely have time to read the latest research due to high patient quotas and busy work demands.
Taking the time to throughly understand each patient’s health allows functional medicine doctors to consult the latest research during treatment, effectively reducing the gap between new breakthroughs and practical care from decades to years.
Unfortunately, many of today’s patients are often forced to choose between traditional Western medicine and alternative, holistic approaches to healthcare when evaluating their care. We believe both have value and can play in important role in treating a patient. In addition to prescribing medicine, we may also prescribe a new nutrition program or fitness regime. In some cases, a botanical supplement, or counseling, can serve as an effective, much safer alternative to taking a pharmaceutical drug. Each patient is unique and deserves to have the best science-based care from both Western medicine and holistic care.
Dr. Eric Potter graduated from Vanderbilt Medical School and then went on to specialize in internal medicine and pediatric care, spending significant time and effort in growing his medical understanding while caring for patients from all walks of life. He has participated in numerous conferences and certifications dedicated to the study of the latest research in the growing field of epigenetics–which play a vital role in our physical and emotional health.
In addition to his ongoing scientific study applied to the care of individual patients, Dr. Potter has also been a continuing presence in the Functional Medicine movement–utilizing the latest in scientific and natural medicine research as it applies to patient care. Through this study, he has grown a deeper appreciation of the beauty, wonder and intricacy of creation and the function of people as they live and move in their particular environments and communities. His ongoing, scientific study has only further illuminated the truth of God’s Word as it relates to people and how they live.
Dr. Potter has personally experienced healthcare crises from both sides of care–as a physician and as a family member to patients. Working within our broken healthcare system and taking his family members through that same system inspired him to look for new ways to deliver the quality of healthcare he envisioned: one directed to the whole person as a unique individual seeking restoration, delivered in the context of a covenantal relationship (before the face of God) between patient and doctor.
In, 2014, Dr. Potter founded Sanctuary Medical Care and Consulting. In 2016, he changed the name to Sanctuary Functional Medicine to convey the importance of the functional medicine approach to medical care. Using a direct pay model, he was able to circumvent the red tape required by third-party contracts and has since been able to offer the covenantal, whole-person care he envisioned.
Besides serving as a physician, he is married to a spectacularly, wonderfully, amazing wife and has five beautiful children. Their family has been shaped by the providential occurrences in their lives, including the beauty of adoption.
Dr. Potter also enjoys running, reading, theological study, medical study and spending time with his family.
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord and not man.” – Colossians 3:23
Dr. Eric Potter’s areas of expertise include:
- MTHFR, Methylation, and SNPs
- Epigenetics and 23&Me
- Interpretation of genetic tests, providing personalized DNA reports
- Functional medicine
- Environmental toxins
- Wholistic medicine and spiritual care
Hans Hinterkopf, PA-C, received his masters of health science degree from the University of Pennsylvania at Lock Haven. He joins us from western NY state where he worked in hospital inpatient medicine, emergency care, and most recently spent the last 4 years in pediatrics and home health care for the amish. Over his 14 years of practice, Hans began to see that there were many questions that could not be answered with modern medicine, both in the clinical setting, and in his own home. He became an avid researcher of alternative approaches, became certified in the nutritional healing protocol known as the GAPS diet, and his goal in his practice of pediatrics was to get kids off medications. Currently in process of his functional medicine education and certification, Hans brings knowledge of nutrition and gut health as it relates to many disease states, essential oils, detox, energy medicine, and clean living that are a fitting complement to Dr. Potter’s extensive expertise in functional medicine.
An outdoor enthusiast, Hans loves hiking with his son, rock climbing, kayaking, organic farming, playing worship music with his family, studying functional medicine, building relationships with his patients, taking care of the poor, and living close to the earth and his Creator. Hans, and his wife of 20 years, homeschool their two children and they are looking forward to making their home in the Franklin, TN area.
Steven Paske is a native of St. Louis, MO and holds a Master’s Degree in Education from Lindenwood University. He’s served as an educator and administrator for more than a decade, most recently as principal for a private school.
Steven and his wife moved to Nashville in 2014 and were happy to find Dr. Potter as their personal physician. He joined the Sanctuary Functional Medicine team in 2016 as Relations Manager.
Steven is a classically-trained pianist and spends his free time composing music for film and television projects.
Kimberly Garrard is Texas native who has wanted to serve others in a meaningful way as long as she can remember. She earned her LPN degree from the Tennessee College of Applied Technology in Hohenwald and has years of experience working as a certified nurse assistant, doula, midwife assistant, nanny, and elderly caregiver. She’s seen firsthand the value of taking a functional medicine approach to care–healing ailments at their root causes through a combination of natural and clinical remedies.
Kimberly enjoys spending time with her her nine nieces and nephews, talking about Texas, watching football and photography.
After spending several years trying to care for patients in multiple conventional medical settings, Dr. Eric Potter realized the clock was ticking faster and faster: either see more patients in a day (spending less time with each one) or get off the hamster wheel and provide real care. Once he discovered the Direct Pay Care business model, the pieces fell into place that enabled him to found and open Sanctuary Medical Care and Consulting in 2014.
The direct primary care model enabled Dr. Potter to create a system of care where the best interests of his patients could be prioritized over making profits. He was able to provide the type of care he felt was missing in Middle Tennessee by taking on one-fourth of the patient caseload of that of a conventional physician. As a result, patients of Sanctuary regularly spend 30 minutes with their doctor per visit.
With these longer visits, the functional medicine approach of treating whole persons at the root cause of their symptoms could bring out better and more lasting health restoration. Caring for the spirit, the mind and the body, while empowering patients to care for themselves, brought not only better health to patients but greater enjoyment in medicine for Dr. Potter.
Sanctuary’s mission is to sow and nurture biblically healthy living in Christian families, so that they as individuals, families and churches may increasingly glorify God throughout the generations, by rightful stewardship of their gift of life.
In 2016, Sanctuary Medical Care and Consulting changed its name to Sanctuary Functional Medicine to better convey the importance of the functional medicine approach.
Since it’s founding, Sanctuary Functional Medicine has helped hundreds of patients in Middle Tennessee and surrounding states. Dr. Potter is also able to go home at night grateful for the opportunity to walk with patients through their suffering and towards restoration
Whether we first meet in your home or at my office location, you should have certain things prepared to make the most of our time together. In particular:
- Please fill out the questionnaire I send, and return it a few days before our visit.
- Please complete the online enrollment form on the “Forms” page.
- Please complete the HIPAA consent and the Consultative Agreement which I send.
- Have any past records ready either by bringing them to the visit, or asking the relevant health providers to fax or mail them to me prior to the visit.
- Bring any family members or trusted friends who either participate in your care or need to be involved in our discussion. Your health is a family affair.
At your follow-up visit for either medical guide or medical detective services, we will sit down to discuss my assessment of your health, and the available options which may improve your well-being. I will answer your questions to the best of my capability, and provide you with a written summary of my care and recommendations. If those recommendations include prescriptions, I will write those for you. If they include natural remedies, I will provide guidance for obtaining them.
Yes. Having commercial health insurance does not hinder your benefiting from Sanctuary’s care. Many–if not most–of our patients continue to carry health insurance. Here is the difference: other doctors must work for your insurance company since the company writes their paychecks. At Sanctuary, we not only work for you alone, but we put your insurance to work for you as well by serving as your advocate rather than their servant.
If you think having insurance is an obstacle, come talk to our Relations Manager, Steven Paske, and he can explain how we can work together to restore your health.
Yes, I have prescribing privileges, with licenses in Tennessee and Virginia.
It is important to understand, however, that prescription medications are not the answer to all health issues. God has given us an array of (often ignored) natural remedies to care for daily health concerns. After reviewing your health history, I will recommend some combination of natural and man-made therapies to fit your health needs.
If I do recommend prescription medications (antibiotics etc), I must have seen you at least once prior for a face-to-face visit. Tennessee does not permit prescribing any medications without a documented physical visit.
Important: I do not prescribe narcotic pain medications or sedatives. No exceptions.
Today’s health care system, as well as the goal of socialized medicine, intentionally and unintentionally have cultivated our sense of entitlement to health care paid by others. However, whoever writes the check ultimately makes the decision. Consequently, the current system puts our health and well-being into hands other than those of the physician and patient. This sells our health care birthright for a mess of pottage.
Paying at the time of service means that you are not paying for bureaucracy, nor for administration, but for your health. It means that you and your physician decide your care, rather than third parties whose interest may not coincide with your own best interest. Moreover, your physician can spend more time caring for you, rather than filling out paperwork.
If you do choose to submit your bill to your insurance company for potential reimbursement, I will provide you with an appropriate invoice for the purpose. Should you need support in authorizing coverage for my visit or testing I order, I will also assist, as a free agent unentangled by contracts with the third party. I do not guarantee that your insurance company will cover my services nor my orders.
Yes and no. I will care for those who have traditional insurance policies, if they are willing to pay for my care directly and accept responsibility for making any submissions to their insurance company. I do not submit service billing directly to such companies; nor do I receive any payment directly from them. I have chosen to not contract with such companies, so that I may remain as free as possible to care for you and remain financially able to provide for my family.
Essentially, my approach leaves no room for any conflicts of interest which might hinder me from making decisions in your best interest. I receive no incentives from pharmaceutical companies to prescribe their medications, and any goods purchased through me are sold for near cost (shipping/handling and applicable taxes added).
Simple answer: Yes, absolutely!
I do not do so out of compulsion by legal authorities, but due to the compulsion of the Bible, which directs me to care for all people, regardless of religion, race, gender, or any other factor. While I reserve the right to refuse to continue care for those who choose to not pay for their service, I commit to providing the same compassionate, excellent, thorough care for all who come to me suffering.
When you visit your traditional physician and submit the visit to your insurance, you not only inform them of your diagnoses and what treatments or tests were ordered; they also may require your full health visit record for proof of care or audits.
In contrast, when you pay your physician directly and do not submit a bill to the insurance company, they neither have record of that interaction, nor the right to inquire about your diagnoses, tests, treatments, or the topics discussed at that visit.
With Sanctuary Medical, you can choose to submit the bill yourself—or keep it to yourself. You decide. Your privacy is in your hands.
Your records will be stored digitally with proper security. Only you and those you permit with have access to them (except as mandated by law.) The records storage will be HIPAA compliant.
Not all alternative therapies are equal. Some are proven; some are physically safe; some are spiritually safe. Others have little or none of any of these qualities. As a Christian approaching this area of medicine from a biblical worldview, I will help guide you toward the good and away from the worthless and harmful.
I prefer to approach medicine in a complementary or integrative fashion within biblical boundaries. Natural remedies and modern medicine can work together to bring healing when used wisely. If you want the best of both worlds, without fake promises or negative spiritual consequences, we should talk.
Can your doctor’s seminary classes make any difference in your health care?
This comes down to “worldview.” A physician who has taken the time to study who man is (imago Dei, the image of God) and what is man’s chief end (the glory of God) is prepared to care for the true “whole person” differently than one who simply views the patient as an evolutionary product of material nature. The study of man from a biblical worldview is important for the proper care of patients.
Furthermore, this worldview directs such a studious physician to seek out biblical wisdom for his patients, and apply that wisdom to every aspect of their care. If I am to care for humans, I must understand what they are as a whole and what is their purpose in life. Then I can help them journey toward that goal.