Harbin China Trip 2018
By Joanne Neville L.Ac., Clinic Director, Boulder Campus
This summer I was lucky enough to be chosen to accompany our students to Heilongjiang University of Chinese Medicine in Harbin, China for nearly two weeks. What an amazing and life changing experience. It really opened my eyes to what acupuncture and Chinese medicine can really do when it is an integral part of the mainstream paradigm of health care.
Arriving in Harbin, we were met by our phenomenal translators Eddie and Chen, both of whom are students at the university. They quickly proved invaluable to us as we attempted to navigate a city where nothing was familiar. It’s quite a different experience traveling in an Asian country because there are no similarities in our language, written or spoken, you absolutely can’t fake it! All we were able to say was hello and thank you, Nihao and Xie Xie. At least we were polite. It got a lot of smiles and laughs.
Eddie and Chen went above and beyond the call of duty of translating for us when we were observing in the hospital and spent quite a lot of their off time with us when they could. When they couldn’t be with us, they would send us We Chat messages of places we might want to visit with the English name of the places and the Chinese translations to show our cab drivers where we wanted to go. They became treasured friends by the end of the trip, even showing up at our hotel at 5am to see us off the morning we departed.
We Chat is the only social media that we could access while we were there. This was our main form of communication while in China. We all had it on our phones before the trip and made sure our close family members were on it as well. This came in very handy when my daughter-in-law went into labor and I was able to video chat with her and my son from China and see my precious grandson, moments after he was born.
The twenty story Heilongjiang University of Chinese Medicine 2nd Affiliated Hospital, situated in the middle of Harbin, the capitol of the northernmost province in China, a city of 10 million, is widely known throughout China for their expertise in treating neurological disorders including brain infarctions, brain hemorrhages, post stroke, Bell’s palsy, shingles and many other disease processes. We were honored to follow many prominent doctors on their rounds and receive lectures from several of them as well.
The nearly two-week format of the trip was new, previous trips having been almost four weeks, and we weren’t sure what to expect, but in speaking with our translator Eddie, who has served SWAC students on several previous trips, he said we were lucky because we were exposed to so many more departments and hospital directors than in past trips. Many thanks to Skya Abbate for the richly varied experiences she negotiated for us. We were on one or two different floors of the hospital daily, each floor run by its own director, all with their own unique specialties and styles.
It was fascinating to experience Chinese medicine the way it was intended to be used. Unlike what is available in the United States thus far, many neurological in-patients receive scalp acupuncture twice daily, administered by the floor director, often retaining needles for up to six hours at a time, during which the director’s student interns work on the patients with electrical stimulation, moxibustion, Tuina and other adjuncts. Many patients also receive herbal therapy either as a decoction or sometimes in an IV drip. The duration, intensity and frequency of treatments clearly accounts for the remarkable and often miraculous results in treating issues that western medicine often deems untreatable.
Now, armed with this knowledge, it becomes ever more important to promote the use of Chinese Medicine in the United States in a way that allows this kind of consistency of care for all of the people who want and need it. We all need to continually work to bring this medicine into mainstream healthcare offerings.
On the Saturday we were there, Skya had arranged for a van drive us to different places of interest in the city. Among our favorites, collectively, were going to the Siberian Tiger preserve and driving through their open areas in buses that were fully caged and getting to feed them meat through the cages. The other favorite area was the Buddhist Temples. So lovely, even in the rain. We had the best meal of our trip at the temple restaurant, so good, we took a cab back the next day to eat there again.
I believe that anyone studying Chinese medicine should make a point of experiencing the wealth of information and the culture of the country that created the medicine they are devoting their lives to. After being involved in the world of acupuncture for nearly 20 years, I feel a renewed sense of what can be done with my chosen path.
Former Faculty member, Tanya Schmid, Publishes Book
Former Faculty member Tanya Schmid, who taugh Qigong at the Santa Fe campus around 2000, has published a book called Tanya's Collection of Zen Stories. The philosophy and humor in these 28 stories is representative of Southwest Acupuncture College's principles. All the Funds raised from the book sales go toward an environmental project in Switzerland. See www.schmid-permaculture.com for more information.
Samara Reigh Opening Chicago Clinic, Blue Island Traditional Medicine
Samara, and her business partner Beatrice, have a gorgeous new space for the clinic leased and the doors will open mid-May. If anyone is ever in Chicago, please visit. For those that do live in Chicago, come on down to Pilsen! They would be delighted to treat you.
Two years ago, Samara and Beatrice started an organization bringing their services (acupuncture & trigger point therapy) to homeless shelters on Chicago’s West and South sides. They're continuing the volunteer work, but are also excited to be opening a bilingual community clinic in the Pilsen neighborhood, where they'll be serving the general public. Samara believes that holistic and preventive medicine are powerful, effective, transformative tools that should be utilized as public health strategies and made available to the whole population. She has thought this for a long time, and this clinic is her way of putting that idea into action.
They have managed to secure a small business loan from a non-profit to cover some of the start-up expenses, but are reaching out to the community as well to help get them all the way there. Here's a link to their campaign on Kickstarter. They would be honored and grateful if you would consider donating to the clinic start-up. Samara is going in with all her heart on this one, and would love to have your help.
Update June 20, 2018! The clinic is off to a great start! They have had an enthusiastic response from the community and our schedules are already filling up. Our Grand Opening party will be this Saturday and we are very excited to welcome everyone into our beautiful space that we've worked so very hard on :)
Brodie Welch is a Chinese Medicine expert, Licensed Acupuncturist, self-care strategist, and teacher. She empowers women to show up for themselves, tune into their own inner wisdom, and tweak their daily habits so they can feel their best. She practices and teaches Chinese Medicine, yoga, meditation, qi gong, stress relief, and habit change in Corvallis, Oregon, and offers innovative learn-from-anywhere classes at brodiewelch.com. Read more here.
Column by BONNIE J. GORDON
Los Alamos Daily Post
Henry Ahlefelder didn’t start out to be a teacher, healer and follower of a spiritual path. “I was the opposite of a new age type of person,” Ahlefelder said. “I was into rock and motorcycles." On a whim, he asked a friend to teach him to meditate. The results amazed him and set him on his path to become a healer and a teacher. Read more here.
by Dagmar Ehling, MAc, LAc, DOM
Evolution is a progression that continues to evolve through cycles of heating cooling, moistening and drying, contraction and expansion. These processes enable bacteria and other microorganisms to grow. Nature evolves in harmony with these cycles and always seeks an equilibrium. Read more here.
It’s a difficult task, but students who can pull themselves away from Santa Fe’s beautiful scenery long enough to actually study are greeted by a diverse and rewarding academic community.
The city is home to small colleges and universities, providing students with a wide range of academic options. Read more here.
Clinic Statistic Reports
Southwest Acupuncture College Boulder Clinic Statistics
By Joanne Neville, LAc, Clinic Director- Boulder
There is a relative stability comparing the clinical data from the past two years in the Boulder onsite. The top illnesses that were treated were overall pretty similar to last year but the percentages changed a bit. While we saw 119 more total patients in the past year onsite at 6143 as compared with the previous year at 6024, we had 18 fewer new patients. The percentage of female to male patients stayed at roughly a 2:1 ratio with a 3% increase in new male patients from 30.7% to 33.7%. Our clinic saw a slight increase in available slots filled, going from 91.8% to 93.1%. Many of the slots that weren’t filled were due to last minute cancellations or no shows where the clinic staff had no opportunity to replace them. The staff was excellent at filling spots if they had a 24-hour notice.
The clinic had a decrease in minor patients because we didn’t offer a pediatric specific clinic for several semesters. We hope to improve these numbers by trying to offer more consistency of pediatric clinics and offering the class in the spring and allowing interns to take the clinic concurrently with the class. SWAC Boulder will offer a Pediatric elective in the Fall for MSAc students who may be interested in learning the Shonishin system without the herbal component. We have been starting at square one with gathering clientele to fill the pediatric clinic each year because it has usually only been offered one semester per year.
Comparing the top illnesses seen in the clinic, Back pain is still the number one ailment that gets people in the door. This year, 28.9% of our new patients complained of back pain as their chief concern compared with 23.6% last year. Notably, Anxiety has moved from 6th place to 2nd place this past year and Neck pain has jumped from 7th to 3rd. Digestive issues have also moved up the ranks while numerically holding steady with 12 this past year compared to 11 previously. Knee pain is number 5 this year where it wasn’t in the top 10 at all last year. Sciatica moved onto the chart this year where previously only hip pain was seen, both together comprising 11.7% of new patients seen. Interestingly, Headaches did not make the list this year at all. Insomnia, Colds, Flu and Sinus issues did not make the top ten in the last two years although they have rated in the past.
Of the 350 new patients seen in this past year in our onsite clinic, half of them fell into one of the top ten issues treated. In addition, what we can glean from this data is that 68.3% of new patients, with issues in the top ten categories, began treatments at our clinic this past year because of musculoskeletal pain conditions, which is only a .1% change from last year.
In addition to the onsite clinic we also have several externship clinics which are free of charge to our patients, where, in our commitment to serving the community, SWAC donated 1032 treatments in the last year, a total value of $21,914.The externship clinics in Boulder are Golden West, a senior housing community where we most commonly treat pain issues, peripheral neuropathy, fatigue and allergies; CU University of Colorado sports clinic where we see elite athletes at the university and work exclusively on musculoskeletal injuries and BCAP, Boulder County AIDS Project which consists of regulating immunity, maintaining wellness and many of the normal pain issues seen in our onsite clinics.
Many thanks to the supervisors, interns and administration for making these subsidized treatments available to those in need and thanks to CU for entrusting us with their elite athletes.
In conclusion, we are all serving our community in the variable illnesses with which they present and meeting our institutional goals of low cost to free treatment to the community.
Southwest Acupuncture College
Santa Fe Clinic Statistics
6/1/17 through 5/31/18
During the 2017-2018 academic year, the SWAC Santa Fe Clinic saw very similar numbers as compared to the previous year. For the onsite clinic, number of treatments given, general patient demographics and initial illnesses treated are all within a 10% difference when compared with the previous year’s data. There were slightly fewer available appointment slots, slightly more treatments given, slightly fewer new patients, similar age groups treated and similar initial complaints.
Specific comparison indicates a greatly increased efficiency in filling available appointment slots. 93% of available appointments (4493 slots available) were filled this year as opposed to 88% the previous year (4599 slots available). This improvement includes dedicated clinic staff efforts in managing the schedule, a decrease in available slots by 106 and an increase in treatments given by 123. Clinic Director’s note: because of fewer students matriculating through the clinic at this time, the decrease in available slots is easily understood. The 7% of slots not filled was primarily due to very last minute cancelations or no show patients. The actual clinic experience has been one of more requests for treatment than slots available in a given week.
Patient demographics included 22 fewer new patients. There were 318 this year and 340 new patients last year. Of those new patients, ages ranged from 11 to 90 years old with the largest percentage (47%) being equally spread between the ages of 50 to 70. In comparison, 60% of new patients were between the same ages the year before and most of those were between 50 and 60 years old. 58% of our new patients were men as compared to 38% the previous year.
Initial complaints changed slightly. Pain and inflammation remains at the top of the list increasing from the year before from 48% to 57%. Anxiety and depression, again, is listed second increasing from 6% to 7%. Digestive issues listed third this year at 4% where general wellness was listed third the year before. Headache rose to fourth on the list at 4% where fatigue was fourth last year and headache was fifth. 64% of all new patients’ complaints were either pain/inflammation or anxiety/depression.
The externship program, which is in addition to our onsite clinic, included two externships. The La Familia externship was held in the evenings in Albuquerque for families with foster children. The Life Link externship was held in Santa Fe at a facility for the homeless. Both clinics were done in a community style setting and offered to the participants free of charge. In combination, they offered 352 treatments at a value of $14,080 (averaging community style treatment prices in Albuquerque and Santa Fe). Southwest Acupuncture College values the community in which it functions and encourages externships that support underserved populations. Gratitude is given to supervisors and students who provide excellent care during these clinics.
In conclusion, clinic function and demographics remain stable. These clinics are well established and provide excellent low or no cost sources of health care as well as rich educational experience for students, thus meeting two core values of Southwest Acupuncture’s mission.