My Aspiration: For Acupuncture To Be A Common Everyday Thing in my Community

I take walk-ins. And I'll take them whenever I am open, as many as I can. Sometimes it makes my life a little crazy, but mostly it's great.

I want to make acupuncture an everyday thing in my community. And I want it to be so convenient that if you were driving through little Winona, MN on your way from Chicago or Milwaukee to Minneapolis, you could just pop in and get an acupuncture treatment.


I don't want acupuncture to be some mystical thing only for people who are desperate and nothing else helps them. I want my acupuncture to be for everyday things. 

I was really happy when the middle schooler who ran track came in for her shin splints. And the people that know enough to come in when they have a cold so I can get rid of it for them. 


My Aspiration is for acupuncture to become so common that stopping by is as easy of a decision as stopping by the grocery store on the way home. And I think that's when I'll decide that I am doing some good in my community smile
This story was posted on March 19 2010 by mitylene.

Comments

  • March 19 2010 at 2:46 PM
    NancyS writes:

    Yes, yes, and hey wait a minute

    I completely agree.  With everything except the last part.  You are already doing so much for your community.  I think your smiley face means you know that, but I just wanted to be sure.

     As for making acupuncture about everyday things, I feel similarly.  I think about this alot with regard to acupuncture’s ability to help the body expel colds, flus, etc.  Last fall before I moved to Oregon, I got a horrible case of the flu (when I tell this story, I always use western illness terms rather than chinese medicine terms because I think the former helps non-acupuncturists understand my point better).  Anyway, got the flu and happened to living with another acupuncturist for a while.  A few needles, a little gua sha, some garlic tea, some sweating, and it was gone overnight. 

    I’m sad that this kind of kind of treatment is not readily available.  My regular acupuncturist in Maryland was normally booked up for a week.  I had a window of maybe a few hours when I could get my illness knocked out with one acupuncture treatment.  Since I don’t have a lot of luck with needling myself for these things, my only hope was quick and easy access.  Lucky for me that my roommate was an acupuncturist.  

    In my dream world, acupuncture is as easy to access with as many available hours of operation as the local pharmacy or walk-in medical clinic.  AND people think to use it for the same reasons (except for sewing things up and setting bones and all). 

    Nancy S.

      0 likes
  • March 20 2010 at 11:11 AM
    melissa writes:

    here, here!

    jade you ARE amazing and it’s clear your community does see you as a valuable part of their lives!

    we’ve also taken walk-ins since our opening a year ago and our patients LOVE it! you really just can’t predict your next migraine for thursday at 3; didn’t know you might slip on the spring ice until you did it.

    at this point, more than half our client visits are walk-ins. this includes first-time patients and regulars. we have a large sidewalk sign that welcomes walk-ins and it really gets folks through the door. 

    this week i had four new patients that came in because they had seen the sign: one had arthritis in her finger and was on the way to the pharmacy but decided to try us instead. two people with acute back pain: one from a fall that morning, the other one had been going to the school clinic but was sick of their complicated scheduling system and hour and a half appointments—“mostly sitting in a room alone.” the third said she had been meaning to come in for months and had just picked up her tax return and decided to spend it on something nice for herself.

    and our regulars are dropping in as allergies begin to hit, to deal with exposure in schools and workplaces to the flu that’s going around. one came in right after being fired from a job by a rage-aholic—she just knew it would help her balance out. two dropped by because they had a surprise hour of childcare. two dropped in to celebrate spring break from their stressful nursing program—siad they wanted to start the week off right. we could list hundreds of stories a month!

    as we get busier, we just give priority to those with appointments, the others wait a few minutes, relaxing in chairs, usually not a problem at all—extra time to stew in the group qi! it also connects our patients to the life and growth of the clinic—they seem to really like it when it’s busy!

    and it feels more organic—like dropping in to your favorite neighborhood cafe—sometimes you are part of the bustle, sometimes catch a quiet time between waves. 

    so, yeah, life, change, challenges—the ebb and flow of good health just keep on happening and it’s so nice to be part of the rhythm of people’s lives.

     

    Melissa

    Good health is not a measure of adapting to a sick society.

    When the power of love outshines the love of power, the world will know peace.

      0 likes
  • March 20 2010 at 12:34 PM
    andy wegman writes:

    Couldn’t have written better myself

    Thanks for your thoughts and heart, Jade.

      0 likes
  • March 20 2010 at 1:10 PM
    Nora writes:

    I love these examples!

    I have a patient who comes in when he can get dog care (as well as patients who come in when they can get child care).  I especially love the woman who was on her way to the pharmacy and decided to try you first!  And Jade’s example of kids coming in for shin splints…What a great vision of how “healthcare” could change.  

    This makes me want a storefront even more than I already do.  Thanks for the great post, Jade.

      0 likes
  • March 20 2010 at 8:52 PM
    Naomi writes:

    question

    with walk-ins who are new patients and have a headache/sprained ankle, whatever, do you do the whole intake process or skip it and just get to the issue at hand? And if you just treat the headache - or whatever - and they decide to continue with treatments for general health, do you schedule them as new patients then? This has been coming up for me - wonder how others are handling it.

    Naomi

      0 likes
  • March 21 2010 at 10:44 AM
    melissa writes:

    brief intake

    i still do an intake, scanning for any other serious health conditions and getting a diagnosis that fits with their overall pattern. it is definitely more efficient—i don’t go through a thousand questions, and i do focus primarily on the issue at hand, namely getting out of pain. and i explain that this is what’s happening and that we will go more in depth with their history on the next visits. this usually elicits a sign of visible relief from the patient. and, no, i don’t really need to schedule them as a new patient for the next visit, i look through their history between visits and then there is plenty of time during the first few to get through it all with them.

    Melissa

    Good health is not a measure of adapting to a sick society.

    When the power of love outshines the love of power, the world will know peace.

      0 likes
  • March 21 2010 at 7:04 PM
    JuliaC writes:

    Good question!

    I have the same question, Naomi.  When we are booked solid for the day, 1 patient every 10 minutes from 10am - 2:30pm, for example, I feel like I can’t take time for an intake and an explanation of how the clinic works for a new patient who walks in - it really throws off my schedule and I end up becoming quite behind in terms of time. I want new patients to feel like things aren’t necessarily rushed and are indeed personalized when they come to get a treatment with us. 

     

    Jade, I love how you express your desire for our clinics to be a place where people can just stop in, and I know your practice is also very, very busy.  How do you squeeze people in for an initial intake if you are booked for the day?  Sadly, we’ve had to send people away, asking them to book an initial visit at a later time.  Most of them do book and come back, but it’s not the same as just popping in on a whim.

     

    hmmmm…...

    Julia in Berkeley

      0 likes
  • March 21 2010 at 10:00 PM
    Naomi writes:

    ‘quality’ intakes

    I know what you mean Julia: I have been taking walkins (and feel lucky to have them) but I sometimes feel the intake is a bit rushed, especially if I know there’s a busy hour ahead.

    If I look back on those intakes and feel they weren’t optimal, it is usually the orientation to the clinic that falls short.  My sense is that being really present during that stage is often what makes folks inclined to come back in again. A good receptionist would be able to take care of all those explanations (and micro-adjustments to the clinic flow)... but we are not there yet.

    Also, and this is probably just lack of experience, I sometimes feel that I get ‘maxed out’ after a certain number of new patients a day, especially if there isn’t a chance to chart for a while.

    Like you, Jade & Melissa, I really feel being able to take walkins is a valuable service. Any tips? (or maybe you could send a handy clone up to Toronto…)

    Naomi

      0 likes
  • March 22 2010 at 7:53 AM
    Jessica Feltz writes:

    WWMLD?

    What Would Miriam Lee Do?

    (oooh!  That sounds like a blog title, for anybody seeking a little inspiration...)

      0 likes
  • March 23 2010 at 10:54 AM
    melissa writes:

    reception for clinic orientation

    so, i guess it really has been necessary for the reception person to take care of the clinic orientation—i do hate that feeling of being with a patient and hearing the door and then knowing the new person is hovering around in the waiting room. if we don’t have anyone on shift that day (but we are trying to fill them ALL in!) i leave the new patient paperwork on the front desk with a post-it with the person’ name and welcome! and letting them know to please fill it all out and come on into the treatment room and i’ll meet them there. our welcome letter explains a lot of the procedures and there is info on our front table to make it clear. by the time they get the paperwork filled in, look over some stuff at the front, get into a chair and get shoes off, i will have treated 2-3 other patients.

    but we echo what others have said: get human receptionists as soon as possible-ours our volunteer and trade for two treatments per shift. be on the lookout from among your patients (and their friends) that have the right personality fit and want regular treatment—they trade four hours per week for two treatments-one for them, one to give a friend if they want or use themselves. 

    but once the patient is in a chair, their visit really doesn’t have to take any longer than a returning patient if you are keeping the health intake a little more abbreviated—focusing on the acute situation at hand.

    i feel like it ‘s easy with one line to let them know that there will be time on the next visit to go more deeply into the history: “we’re glad we could get you in today and will focus on your back pain, primarily, and next visit we can start looking at other issues you’d like us to address, ok?” no complaints so far and they are usually so grateful to have gotten in at the time they had the inspiration and time and kind of understand the limitations.

    we are not as busy as Jade or Julia (around 60/wk and climbing) but have patients coming in waves right now. i’ve been treating 6-7 per hour during these waves, sometimes 2-3 are new patients or walk-in new patient combos plus regulars. it just flows and we do rely on our stellar reception staff to attend to the patient on the way in and out of the clinic so they feel grounded with it. if we have four people in front of them when they walk in, then our reception person tells them it could be 20-30 minutes, they can choose to wait and relax, fill out paperwork or do the paperwork now and just come back a little later. so that may just be the reality of it if at a certain threshold, look forward to finding out.

    AND, i think Jade might just must have some secret super powers doing it without receptionist!

     

    Melissa

    Good health is not a measure of adapting to a sick society.

    When the power of love outshines the love of power, the world will know peace.

      0 likes
  • March 23 2010 at 3:43 PM
    mitylene writes:

    I agree with Melissa about the flow

    When my volunteer receptions are there. They help out a lot! 

    When the initial intake needs to be done quickly I may just address one or two the major issues, point out the payment box, the schedule book, and be specific about when I want them to return. 

    Sometimes it isn’t the “optimal” personal experience, but I find it’s easier for me to flow if I don’t worry too much about that. I feel like I’ve “messed up” somewhere with every single patient and just go with the flow. And people enjoy relaxing with the needles anyways and just need to know when you want them back. The needles are the important part and everything else is just to facilitate the needles working!

     Good luck!

    Jade Community Acupuncture, Winona, MN

    acupuncturewinona.com

      0 likes
  • March 23 2010 at 4:13 PM
    David Lesseps writes:

    Hell yeah!

    “I feel like I’ve “messed up” somewhere with every single patient and
    just go with the flow. And people enjoy relaxing with the needles
    anyways and just need to know when you want them back. The needles are
    the important part and everything else is just to facilitate the needles
    working”

     

    Oooh.  So important.

     

    David
    The Hammer from SF

      0 likes
  • March 23 2010 at 9:41 PM
    Naomi writes:

    great to hear

    everyone’s take on this - thanks! Good to kep the big picture in mind -   we are having a busy stretch which is great  (better than the other kind…) - and as usual, overthinking is the enemy to clinical effectiveness.

    Naomi

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