08/12/2016  The Clinic

Update from the field 08/12/2016  The Clinic

We’re almost a week and a half in and by the end of the two weeks, we estimate we’ll have done around 900 treatments. Yesterday alone we did 123 between 5 acupuncturists assisted by interpreters and helpers.

Keeping a multi-bed clinic working efficiently while multi-tasking is key. Diagnosing, needling, doing moxa or using the heat lamp, the electro-machine, cupping, massage, tuina and then assessing when people should return. There are 7 beds in the women’s clinic and 8 in the men’s. We treat on the beds and in the chairs so there’s something happening somewhere at all times.

There’s no doubt that the Chinese knew what they were doing when they set up working in this kind of environment. You were simply treated every day until you were well. In the West, obviously people can’t afford to see their acupuncturist that often and most come once a week. In the clinic, however, we follow this format and depending on the seriousness of their condition, or their pain level, they come back every day, or couple of days. Our patients suffer significant longstanding musculoskeletal pain, often, in multiple areas. But we literally see them improve on a daily basis and it’s incredibly gratifying when a patient says they’ve slept well for the first time in 3 years because they’re no longer in pain.

Patients wait outside the clinic to be seen, sometimes for hours while the hospital administrators fill out their forms and give them a number. The forms are essential, not just to record information about their health, but to put down their diagnosis, what points you’ve used and other tools used to treat them. Most importantly, these are used to evaluate the work we’ve done. Each time a patient comes in, we record their pain levels and the impact their condition has on their lives and this is reassessed on their subsequent visits so by the end of their treatment, we know what’s been achieved.

The hospital staff who support us start way in advance, promoting our visit around the local villages and putting the queues in some kind of order so the right person comes in with the right form each day. Our assistants Heena and Kalpna are borrowed from other hospital departments. They take out needles, massage patients, do cupping and support us every day. Heena has also attained training certificates in auricular acupuncture.  They are real diamonds, endlessly kind and good humoured, and we couldn’t do our job without them.

By Rita Shamia


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