I spent yesterday morning performing acupuncture at the Minnesota Stand Down event for homeless veterans. Some local acupuncturists pulled together and set up a community style clinic to offer acupuncture to any veterans who wanted a treatment. We treated dozens of men and women during the time I was there, and volunteers continued to do so over the course of two days.
During my time at the Stand Down event, I was struck by two things. First, I was and continue to be in awe of the veterans themselves; their spirit, kindness, and sense of duty was inspiring. Second, I was impressed by the workings of a community style acupuncture clinic, which brings me to the subject of this post.
Acupuncture can be delivered in a variety of settings, from hospitals to private clinics. The most common style in the United States is a private clinic where patients receive acupuncture in a treatment room. The clinic may have several rooms available for treatment, but only one patient at a time is in each room. A newer model, called community acupuncture, involves many patients receiving acupuncture at once in the same space. Typically the patients are treated while sitting in recliners in a large room.
More and more community acupuncture clinics have been cropping up across the country, creating both fans and critics of the model. Certainly there are some clear benefits to being treated in a community style clinic, but there are pluses to receiving acupuncture in a private style clinic, too.
One of the greatest benefits of visiting a community acupuncture clinic is the cost. The idea behind the community clinic movement is that acupuncture should be accessible to as many people as possible, so community clinics treat more people at once and charge fees on a sliding scale. With cost being less of a factor, patients are able to get treatments more frequently, which is often required to achieve good results.
The group atmosphere is also cited as a benefit. Friends and family members can be treated at the same time in the same room. In addition, community style acupuncture clinics are easily set up in crisis situations. Acupuncturists were on hand to treat rescue workers after 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, and the earthquake in Haiti. This is only possible in a community style set-up.
Private style acupuncture has its benefits, too. The range of acupuncture points that can be used during a treatment is greater (including those on the back, upper legs, and abdomen) when a patient is in a private room. In fact, many patients prefer being treated on a table that can support both face up and face down sessions. In addition, accessory treatments, such as cupping, body work, and Gua Sha can be used to augment a private treatment. Private style acupuncture is often better suited to patients with emotional conditions, as the setting allows them to disclose personal information more freely.
Acupuncture in the Park is a private style acupuncture clinic, and our patients appreciate the time we take with them at each treatment. They like the privacy and attention. That said, I have to admit that I left the Stand Down event completely uplifted from having treated so many people in one room at one time. Which is better? Both, or maybe neither. Like Chinese medicine, each person is unique and should choose their clinic based on their circumstances and preferences; both provide healing benefits.