Acknowledging the Love in Community Acupuncture

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“Being together we learn to understand and allow the process of community to transform us.” Gururas Khalsa, Seminole Heights Community Acupuncture

If you haven’t picked up and read the book Acupuncture is Like Noodles, which is available in our waiting room, then please do. The book is the origin story of community acupuncture clinics and, according to Ann Mongeau, L.Ac., a former family nurse practitioner and nursing educator, “[the book] offers a vision of how health care should be: honest, straightforward, accessible, affordable, uncomplicated and based on a relationship of mutual trust and respect.” With this in mind, I am inspired to pause and reflect on how these ideas play out in our clinic.

For example, we treat in a common area as this allows us to share acupuncture with more people and to keep our fees low. New patients often find this hard to believe. They ask if our acupuncturists are licensed. They are. They ask about hidden fees. There are none. They ask if the service changes based on what they pay. It doesn’t. And when they ask about the community treatment room, I smile to myself as I think on how best to articulate the special kind of magic that happens here. Here are just a handful of stories that come to mind:

  • One day, a sweet patient exited the treatment room and closed the door ever so quietly and carefully; she remarked that everyone in the treatment room looked so peaceful and she didn’t want to disturb them.

  • A new patient came to our clinic and was very nervous about his first ever acupuncture treatment. As he waited, three patients exited at the same time and shared in passing how much they “needed that” and how wonderful their “acu-naps” were. He looked over to me and smiled, I saw his shoulders instantly lower as he started to relax and feel more settled.

  • One night, a patient brought in a bag of lemons. I couldn’t possibly take all of them, so she offered them to other patients arriving and departing. Soon, I witnessed a beautiful, happy-hearted conversation between four strangers as they expressed a love for fresh fruit and exchanged recipe ideas for lemon cupcakes, bars, and cookies.

  • On a Saturday, a mother and daughter came in to honor the passing of a loved one and we chatted about loss and the processing that follows. Before heading in, the daughter shared with me an uplifting story about how she helped her little one understand death and grief. After they headed into the treatment room, another patient looked over with reluctant tears in her eyes, “that’s exactly what I needed to hear today”.

I don’t know about you, but moments like these leave me feeling full and warm-hearted at the end of a day. It’s uplifting to see strangers come together to sit in stillness and heal; to have a chat now and then; and to be sweet to one another because, to quote Ram Dass, “we’re all just walking each other home”.

So this month, the month so often associated with romantic love, consider for a moment the countless other forms of love. Love from friends, family, and pets, as well as love within your community. Allow community the chance to transform you and I think you’ll be surprised at how quickly the world becomes a brighter place.

Acknowledging the Source

There is much to celebrate in the upcoming holiday season. In this time of giving and gratitude, I want to add another to your list--Dr. Miriam Lee. Her birthday is December 8 and she would have been 92 years old. She is an important figure for community acupuncture and Chinese medicine in general. She is directly responsible--along with Governor Jerry Brown--for making acupuncture legal to practice in California. This happened in 1976.

 

Two years earlier she had actually been arrested for treating patients without a license. It is a great story, really, as the patients who filled her office daily, also filled the courtroom “to protest being denied access to the only medicine which had helped them, and to insist that they had a right to choose to be treated with acupuncture” (xii, author’s preface, Insights from a Senior Acupuncturist). At one point, when she was treating out of her home, so many people were waiting on her staircase that it broke!

 

As community acupuncturists, we hold her in high regard as one of our Liberation Ancestors. The way she had to learn to treat--given the demand for her services--informs how community clinics are set up and often we use the protocol she developed. She created a simple, effective needling strategy to handle the high volume of people seeking treatment. In her memoir, Insights of a Senior Acupuncturist (1992), she explains “By 5 AM there were 4 or 5 people waiting in their cars to get in. So for 7 hours a day, 5 days a week, I saw between 75 and 80 patients a day, 14 to 17 patients an hour” (x).

 

Her main protocol was a set of 5 points, used bilaterally: Large Intestine 11 and 4, Lung 7, Spleen 6, and Stomach 36. When we use it, we happily document this in our charts as ML 10. Often I am asked if we can treat more than one condition at a time and my answer is always yes. Perhaps it is better to focus on 1 or 2 things rather than 5 or 6, but acupuncture is powerful. I love its simplicity and elegance to stimulate change and self-healing in the body. All the points are multi-functional and are often doing things beyond what I am intending to use them to treat.

 

Miriam Lee died on June 24, 2009. From what I hear, she was a humble and rare teacher and I am so grateful for her generosity in sharing what she learned with others. She was a life-long student herself, always studying to get better to help her patients. I have had the good fortune and time to study with one of her main students, Susan Johnson, LAc, who continues to share Miriam’s legacy and also what she learned directly from working in Lee’s busy clinic.

 

I am grateful for ancestors like these and grateful to the People’s Organization of Community Acupuncture (POCA) who are engaged with social justice, who shine a light on the radical history of acupuncture, and who developed and openly shared how to create the healing spaces of community clinics.

Clinic Move & Policy Changes

Long Beach Community Acupuncture has moved to 1703 Termino Avenue, Unit 104, in Long Beach!

Here’s what you need to know:

Fee Changes: Starting October 15 our sliding scale fee will begin at $20 and range to $50. The $10 initial consultation fee remains the same. However, our “no-show” and “late cancellation fee” will rise to $20 as well. Like all medical practices, we save your appointment time just for you and rarely recoup the loss of revenue when someone misses a scheduled appointment. We appreciate your thoughtful scheduling and understanding of this policy.

Appointments Only: We will only accept patients with appointments. As our chair space is limited in our new building, we do not have extra room for walk-in patients or people bringing friends or family not on the schedule. Please make sure you get a confirmation email and a reminder email stating your appointment time. If you don’t, the appointment probably wasn’t booked correctly. Be sure to check spam and junk mail too! And, if you haven’t refreshed your Schedulicity app, then be sure to do so, as it will update all availability.

Resting Times: We have always guaranteed an hour-long rest and will continue that service. Longer times will not be possible, given our limited space. As always, we require at least a 30 minute rest for the needles to do their work, so make sure and give yourself enough time to receive the most benefit.

Schedule Changes: Our treatment schedule includes some significant changes. We will be open from 10 am to 6 pm, Monday through Wednesday and we will no longer be closed through lunch. Fridays and Saturdays will remain open from 10 am to 2 pm, with Susan and Nirva alternating those days. The new schedule follows:

Monday - 10 am to 6 pm (Nirva a.m. & Susan p.m.)

Tuesday - 10 am to 6 pm (Susan a.m. & Nirva p.m.)

Wednesday - 10 am to 6 pm (Nirva a.m. & Susan p.m.)

Thursday - 1 pm to 5 pm (Susan)

Friday - 10 am to 2 pm (alternating practitioners)

Saturday - 10 am to 2 pm (alternating practitioners)

New Services with Susan will be offered on Thursdays from 1 pm to 5 pm. On this day we will begin offering acupuncture with add-ons (like cupping, gua sha, and other specialized needle techniques). These appointments are limited and can only be scheduled by phone. These add-on modalities will be a flat fee of $60, while acupuncture will still be from our sliding scale of $20 - $50. 

A Message from Susan:

After five years and over 30,000 treatments in the East Village Arts District, we have made the decision to change our location. There's no question that 301 Atlantic, Unit D, has been a great place to start and grow our practice. We know that some of our regulars are downtown folks, and that this move is going to change your easy access to the clinic. 

The good news is that we are still going to be in Long Beach, and our phone number and email address remain the same. Our updated address is 1703 Termino Avenue, unit 104, Long Beach, CA 90804. Free parking is available in the lot of our building and there is also plenty of nearby, unmetered street parking.

If you want to see some pictures of the stages of transformation in the new place, you can  click here to view our progress! We are very excited!

Thanks for your patience during our transition and your support over the last 5 years. We look forward to seeing you in the new space!

with love and gratitude,

The LBCA Team (Nirva, Ayla, Dulce, Deneke, Susan, and F.D. Panda)

Want to learn more? Read a blog post from Susan. In it, she reflects on the past five years and shares her vision for what's to come.

More About the New Space

Our new office is only three miles away from our current one and is conveniently located within a medical suite (with all kinds of practitioners, such as a chiropractor, general practitioner, pharmacist, gynecologist, esthetician, psychiatrist, and more!). It's also near Memorial Care Health System, Kaiser, and other medical buildings. It also offers ample parking, beautiful Eucalyptus trees, and a safer surrounding neighborhood.

OUR NEW ADDRESS:

 

1703 TERMINO AVENUE

UNIT 104 

LONG BEACH, CA, 90804

FINDING US

BY CAR: Our new location offers ample parking, so our patients are welcome to drive and park in our lot. (Uber and Lyft are also great options if you're in a hurry or simply want to relax on your way to acupuncture.)

BY BIKE: Long Beach is a bike-friendly city, with multiple bike routes to try. 

BUS: if you live in the East Village, then use the map at right to find the bus option that works best for you (most options do not require a transfer and take a total of 30 minutes).

Days of Changes

As most of you know, we are re-locating Long Beach Community Acupuncture. It is an exciting move for us and, perhaps, a little bittersweet. Downtown Long Beach served us well, for the most part, so that we could build this practice to serve you. Over the last week, many people have expressed how much this clinic space has meant to them and I have deeply appreciated hearing what their experiences have been like over the last 5 years here.

I will miss lots of things about this space. I remember the very early days wondering if the room would fill up with people. It didn’t take too long, but those first months with just 2 or 5 treatments in a day stoked my fire for community acupuncture. I could tell something good was happening for patients and for me. The talented and generous journalist, Anne Proffit, found LBCA, wrote an article about us for Long Beach Post, and things picked up quickly. During that time, Diane Gershuny, PR maven of small business, connected us with the Long Beach Business Journal, and supported this idea of community acupuncture. She has since passed away, but I will always remember her genuine interest and help to me as a new business owner.

Our new address 1703 Termino Ave, #104, is smaller, more contained, and I know it will generate all kinds of transformation for us. Any physical space dictates how you can treat in that environment. Some things will change about our services, so please read on. Our goal remains: to provide high-quality, affordable acupuncture that is accessible to you. I look forward to seeing you all soon in our new clinic and hope you like it as much as we do!

Fee Changes: Starting October 15 our sliding scale fee will begin at $20 and range to $50. The $10 initial consultation fee remains the same. However, our “no-show” and “late cancellation fee” will rise to $20 as well. Like all medical practices, we save your appointment time just for you and rarely recoup the loss of revenue when someone misses a scheduled appointment. We appreciate your thoughtful scheduling and understanding of this policy.

Appointments Only: We will only accept patients with appointments.  As our chair space is limited in our new building, we do not have extra room for walk-in patients or people bringing friends or family not on the schedule. Please make sure you get a confirmation email and a reminder email stating your appointment time. If you don’t, the appointment probably wasn’t booked correctly. Be sure to check spam and junk mail too! And, if you haven’t refreshed your Schedulicity app, then be sure to do so, as it will update all availability.

Resting Times:  We have always guaranteed an hour-long rest and will continue that service. Longer times will not be possible, given our limited space. As always, we require at least a 30 minute rest for the needles to do their work, so make sure and give yourself enough time to receive the most benefit.

Schedule Changes: Nirva and I have been treating on the same schedule for over a year and are in need of change ourselves. We are in the final stages of working this out, so thanks for your patience. We will post the new schedule as soon as we have it. There will likely be days that we alternate during the week, so please be sure to book appropriately if you have a preference but remember that we DO work as a team to coordinate your care.

New Services: We will now offer cupping and gua sha at our clinic on Thursdays. This is also by appointment only. We may not have all of our materials in place by October 15 to begin this service, but will let you know as soon as we do!

New Products: Nirva and I are both big fans of Chinese herbs and we will be bringing in some single ingredient raw herbs to use that taste great and make for easy and useful ways to include them in your health regimen.

If you have any questions, please ask us. There are lots of details we are still figuring out.

Thanks again for all of your support and sharing our excitement about our new clinic! We look forward to seeing you there!

Five, the Number of Change and Transformation

Here's a sneak peak at our new office which is under construction.

Within Chinese Medicine and culture the number 5 is significant. There are five elements (wood, fire, earth, metal, water), five states of change, and five major organ pairs or systems we use to map body function and assess health. In the ancient Chinese text of the I Ching, five is significant as a number of transformation and change.

September 9 will mark our five year anniversary at LBCA and we are heading for change and transformation too--We will be moving locations. Since opening, we’ve given over 30,000 treatments, enjoyed help from able volunteers, and created jobs for others. Providing affordable care in our community has been one of the highlights of my life, truly. There is nothing like offering this service to people who could never afford it otherwise!

It would be impossible to tell you in a single blog post how much I have learned in five years about running a business, patient care, and building community. This practice has revealed the wonders of frequent treatment and importance of access. Nirva and I have both witnessed responses to acupuncture that are nothing short of miraculous and at the same time we’ve worked with people who make slow, incremental changes that add up to significant, lasting healing. And then there’s every scenario in between.

 Working in this way has changed me forever. I cherish the relationships that I’ve built with so many of you, and I know Nirva feels the same about our community of patients. You enrich our lives beyond measure.

 By the end of October, we will move the location of our clinic to a new space. Our treatment room will be a bit cozier and our new building includes a parking lot, plenty of bathrooms, and a much cleaner and safer exterior environment.

 Earlier this year as I was struggling to make this decision to move, I consulted the I Ching. The hexagram I received was 50, which is sometimes translated as vessel or cauldron and indicates stability and harmony. In Chinese culture these three-legged vessels were used in rituals as well as for cooking; they have the ability to contain and transform. Most important to me, by virtue of their structure, a vessel can be moved. When I think of the clinic as a vessel, where we practice and people are transformed, it made sense to me to look in earnest for a new place where we might do this work.

 In addition to changing locations, we will be changing our schedule and logo. We are also discussing other modalities to include to enhance your care. While we will always do what we can to keep acupuncture affordable, we are altering our sliding scale, after 5 years, to reflect cost of living increases. Our new scale will be from $20 - $50. We still plan on having treatment packages and specials and will certainly honor ones you have already purchased from us.

 Thank you for you a wonderful first five years! We look forward to five more years together, transforming one another through community.