Meet the team! Mishka K. Cira, Healwell Board Member

photo of Mishka K. Cira

Mishka K. Cira

Mishka K. Cira, MPH joined Healwell’s Board of Directors in December 2016. She is a graduate of Potomac Massage Training Institute and is now contractor to the Center for Global Health at the National Cancer Institute-NIH.  She works with governments in low- and middle-income countries to support their national cancer control planning process, by linking them with necessary resources and expertise.

Mishka’s experience and training blends massage, public policy, healthcare, and research. She’s smart, funny, and friendly. So, you can see why we think she’s a catch! We asked her to tell us a little about why she joined our Board and what Healwell means to her. Here’s what she had to say:

How did you discover Healwell?
I had the honor of first meeting Healwell’s Executive Director, Lauren Cates, in 2009 when I visited the Healwell hospital-based program at the Virginia Hospital Center.  Lauren was extremely approachable, and walked me through all of the relationships they had built at the hospital, and the skilled therapeutic massage program they had developed for patients much in need of physical and psycho-social support.  At the time I was looking to adapt some of Healwell’s program model to a hospital-based massage program for pediatric cancer patients I was leading in Hanoi, Vietnam, where I was living at the time.  After that initial meeting, I was drawn into Heawell’s model of skilled, clinical care coupled with compassionate understanding of each patient’s journey.  My work has since evolved to a focus on global public health, but I continue to hold patient care, and especially palliative care, as part of my focus within global cancer control.  When I moved back to DC in 2016, I re-connected with Lauren, and was so excited to learn about the opportunity to serve on Healwell’s Board.  It’s a great opportunity for me to stay involved in the field of integrative therapies, while supporting Healwell’s dedicated therapy team and mission to support patients through some of the most challenging moments that they face.

What exactly is your role as a board member? In your opinion/experience how does the Board of Directors support Healwell’s mission and work?
Through my study of and work in public health, I’m very interested in supporting Healwell to build an evidence-based case for this model of skilled integrative care for patients.  I see my role as supporting the Healwell Board and staff to identify potential research questions, grant opportunities, and partnerships to strengthen the body of knowledge around the need for skilled, trained, and compensated integrative therapeutic care, and how that model of care helps health facilities reach their underserved populations.  I see the overall role of Board as being both a sounding board for innovative work that the staff identifies based on their on-the-ground expertise, as well as a guiding body to ensure that Healwell stays focused and true to its mission.

What is most compelling/rewarding to you about the work Healwell does and your role in the organization?
Simply, to have the opportunity to serve this organization is the most rewarding thing possible.  Healwell strives to be present for each individual patient’s needs, and to champion the reduction of health disparities through access to quality integrative care.  Nothing more needs to be said.