Finding a quiet space

29 Feb

“The community setting allows the community to come together in a quiet space to take care of themselves. This collective stillness is so uncommon in our fast paced culture and I think within this stillness there is something very therapeutic.”

–Nina Hoffman, community acupuncturist in San Francisco

A great article just out on a community acupuncture clinic in San Francisco.

In the US, community acupuncture emerged out of the northwest, but there’s a growing number of clinics across the south, and we’re proud to be the first in the El Paso/Las Cruces region.

Why Community Acupuncture?

26 Feb

Why consider community acupuncture as a healthcare option?

One community acupuncturist in Berkeley, California, wrote about this specific question this week in a blog.  It´s a great introduction to what we’re doing at Crossroads Community Acupuncture.

Here are three reasons we´d like to share:

  1. It’s easy! Come when you can alone or with friends.
  2. It is affordable – a sliding payment scale can help you meet your budget.
  3. No ‘disrobing’ needed. Receive your treatment dressed casually wearing what you have on.
For more, read About Us or Contact us for more information.

Do the next right thing: NADA ZOOM GROUP SESSIONS

26 Mar


English facilitation: Mondays and Wednesdays (Melbourne, Australia) To register for the Australia group, call 040 66 12 993 or email:

Spanish facilitation: Email for registration!


Bring your needles!

Bring your seeds and beads and gold magnets.

No seeds or needles? No problem! Bring your ears and your nimble fingers to give yourself a self acupressure treatment.

We will sit together with NADA folks from all over the world, for an hour of contemplation and action: a 30 minute NADA group session together, then a very brief check-in period of 15 minutes for anyone that feels inspired to share “the next right thing” for them in the Spirit of NADA, finishing at 45 minutes after the hour. After that we will leave the zoom room open for anyone to stick around and connect with NADA folks around the world.

Who can join this session? You don’t need to be a NADA provider or an acupuncturist. Acupuncturists, ADSes, everyday people: All will be welcome. All you need to do is show up!

More about Do the right thing

As the Coronavirus and the global economic crisis challenges NADA providers worldwide to adapt, what is the next right thing you are doing for yourself, for your community? NADA trainers and acupuncturists Claudia Voyles and Ryan Bemis will facilitate. We hope this can be a chance to connect, and maybe get a little fuel for your fire.

While getting together in person in groups may not be possible at this time, we can still share the spirit of NADA together. The world will still need a lot of recovery in the near and far future. Let’s prepare ourselves for the road ahead.


USA: Call Ryan 575-936-0200 (USA) or email

Australia: Call Kata 040 66 12 993 or by emailing:

What to learn more about NADA?

Crossroads’ NADA humanitarian aid programs in the border region, in Latin America, online NADA acudetox training program

Learn more about NADA USA/Canada

Learn more about NADA Australia

Learn more about other NADA groups around the world

Want to host a NADA virtual group? Get mentored in how to do a group of your own? Email

Instructions for joining this NADA Group Zoom:

  1. Download the zoom application.
  2. Register for an account with Zoom
  3. Best quality of vide: Try to find a Wifi Connection and use a computer
  4. You can also do it from your cell phone if necessary (see below for phone numbers to dial in directly if you are struggling with an internet or computer connection)
  5. Try organizing a call with your friends or family before hand so you can get some practice. This will allow you to understand how Zoom works so you can make the most of it. Learning how to do zoom is not different than learning another type of skill: just takes some practice!
  6. Click on the link above for the time you want to join us, there are 3 different times, Mon 8pm AEST, Mon 12pm MST and Sun 5pm MST

Assistant Director Job Opening

15 Dec

Crossroads Community Supported Healthcare is seeking an Assistant Director for our community health clinic and non-profit organization. This position is designed for a well-rounded, dynamic, creative, executive professional with demonstrated administrative leadership in the field of healthcare or social services.

Responsibilities will include project management, strategic planning, regulatory compliance, quality control, human resources, and employee/volunteer training.  Other responsibilities will include customer service/reception, assisting with billing operations, patient care and fundraising.  The Assistant Director will be directly involved in Crossroads’ health promotion capacity building program, and our addictions training program in the border region and in Latin America.   

Applicants with Bilingual English/Spanish with experience working in medical offices and behavioral healthcare are encouraged to apply.

Learn more about our clinic:

To apply: Email a cover letter and resume to

Minimal Qualifications and Experience:

  • 1 year experience working in medical billing 
  • 1 year experience working in front-line healthcare customer service and / or as a medical assistant
  • 5 years working specifically in administration and customer service for medical offices, social services and/or non-profit organizations
  • 5 years in directly supervising and training employees and Human Resources
  • Self-starter, hard worker
  • Possesses experience in managing medical insurance billing including work comp, auto claims, no fault, VA, Medicare secondary and commercial plans
  • Can go back and forth between various activities as needed
  • Quick and efficient on the computer and typing: 45 WPM at least
  • Demonstrated experience in organizational systems improvement and project management
  • Kind, friendly, creative, and understanding with outstanding customer service skills 
  • Experience working with EHR systems
  • Available to work both mornings and evenings, occasional weekends
  • Batchelor’s degree or higher

Preferred Qualifications and Experience:

  • 1 year experience working in a leadership role within health organizations navigating transitions, expanding programs, and implementing new projects
  • 2 years experience in grant-writing, fundraising and grant management for non-profit organizations
  • English/Spanish Bilingual in writing, reading, speaking, translation and interpreting

Experience that will be considered an asset:

  • Experience managing dropbox and O365 share drive filing systems
  • Computer experience using Mac OSx, dropbox, Office 365, Microsoft Office, Pages and Numbers
  • Prior experience in working specifically in clinics offering acupuncture services
  • WordPress and website management
  • Experience in desktop publishing, newsletter editing, database management
  • Certified Medical Coder/Biller
  • Bookkeeping
  • Online schedule systems
  • Graphic Designing
  • Inventory management
  • Marketing and advertising


6 Nov

Jean-Paul Dedam is a Family Medicine doctor who is also board certified in Medical Acupuncture.  He is member of the Listuguj band of Mi’gmaq and the Aroostook Band of MicMac.  He grew up on the coast of Maine and did his medical training at Greater Lawrence Family Medical Center in Lawrence, Massachusetts with a focus on healthcare for the underserved.  After residency, He moved with his  wife Tamara to New Mexico to work for Indian Health Service at ACL Hospital.  While in medical school, Jean-Paul started Herman@s Por la Salud, a nonprofit working in Nicaragua to address the socio-economic determinate of health.  Along with Tamara, they still run Hermanos from their organic farm, Micelio in Carazo, Nicaragua.  Herman@s was one of the supporting partners behind Crossroads’ acupuncture programs in Mexico and Promotores Descalzos in Nicaragua.  He and Tamara live in Albuquerque, NM with their niece Patricia. 

Megan Yarberry is a project manager for a health and wellness initiative in Hawai’i. She holds a Master’s degree in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine and has 22 years of clinical experience. She is a National Acupuncture Detoxification Association (NADA) Registered Trainer, and has had NADA specific experience in HIV/AIDS clinics, prisons, mental health centers, and detox facilities in Oregon and Hawaii. Since 2005 Ms. Yarberry has provided NADA and other trainings in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, South Africa, Congo, Tunisia and Haiti. Ms. Yarberry has been awarded by the US NADA organization for her work in East Africa.

Will Hall, MA, DiplPW is a therapist, trainer, and community development worker focused on experiences labeled bipolar, schizophrenia, and psychosis. He is author of the Harm Reduction Guide to Coming Off Psychiatric Drugs and Outside Mental Health: Voices and Visions of Madness, is the host of Madness Radio, and is currently a PhD candidate in psychiatric epidemiology at Maastricht University. Will is trained in Open Dialogue and Jungian Process Work, and was certified in NADA ear acupuncture at Lincoln Recovery in 2006.

Nancy Ortiz-Gonzalez is a licensed psychologist and serves as an assistant teacher for our training program. She is a NADA ear acupuncture trainer in Mexico, and co-founder and serves on the leadership committee for our acupuncture schools in Nicaragua and Mexico, Barefoot Health Promoters.

Jay Renaud is a retired addictions treatment clinician and administrator who in 1993, with his wife Mary, a registered nurse with a public health background, created Guidepoints: Acupuncture in Recovery, an independent, subscription-based, monthly newsletter for addictions professionals. As a journal entirely self-supporting and objective, Guidepoints documented, as it was happening, how acupuncture-based treatment arrived and grew within the international healthcare system.  Jay was eventually brought in to set up a full time headquarters for the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association (NADA), serving as manager until he retired in 2010. Back in 1973, following his own recovery from alcoholism and drug addiction, Jay had completed alcoholism counselor training at the Oregon Alcoholism Treatment and Training Center, a federally-funded program under the Uniform Alcoholism and Intoxication Treatment Act. He went on to serve for two decades in various counseling and management positions at public and private sector treatment facilities in Oregon and Washington State. During that time, Jay was active in the national alcoholism/addiction recovery movement, serving as a founding board member of the counselor certification organization now known as NAADAC, and acting as editor of its initial member newsletter. Later Jay earned obtained a master’s degree in public administration from Portland State University and NAADAC certification as master addictions counselor. Throughout his years in the field, Jay was active in various media to promote treatment funding and public education about addictions. This work included being a professional consultant to the US Peace Corps, appearing on television and radio, testifying to governmental bodies, and publishing articles in newspapers, magazines and national addictions publications.

Claudia Voyles DAOM, LAc is a licensed acupuncturist for the Central Texas Veterans Health Administration and in private practice in Austin, Texas. Claudia worked in the behavioral health field for many years in clinical and administrative roles. In 1991, she trained as an Acupuncture Detoxification Specialist (ADS) at Lincoln Recovery Center in the South Bronx and became one of the first official Registered Trainers for the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association (NADA) in 1997. Providing the NADA protocol in behavioral health settings led Claudia to deeper study of Traditional East Asian Medicine at the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine and then at  the AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine, where she co-teaches the doctoral Interprofessional Leadership classes. She is proud to be co-creating and a Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation facilitator for the Austin Health Commons. Claudia helped to develop the NADA training manual and has several NADA related journal articles to her name including Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation and Medicines.

Tracy Thorne earned her Masters in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (MAOM) from the New England School of Acupuncture (NESA) in Massachusetts. She studied both Chinese and classical Japanese acupuncture styles and Chinese herbal medicine. Prior to that she received her Masters in Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School.  She has continued to study Japanese styles of acupuncture (Keiraku chiryo), moxa and bodywork since receiving her degree both in the U.S. and Japan and focuses on these modalities in her private practice where she treats children and adults of all ages. She completed a post-graduate training in Classical Chinese herbalism through the Institute for Classics in East Asian Medicine (ICEAM) and practices this style of herbal medicine along with Japanese herbal medicine (Kampo).  She has been a faculty member at the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine for 10 years where she teaches a course in Japanese styles of acupuncture and moxibustion.  Her clinic is in SE Portland where she has practiced for 14 years.  Tracy has developed Crossroads’ Moxa course for health promoters in Mexico.

Elizabeth Ropp is a Community Acupuncturist with the Manchester Acupuncture Studio in Manchester, New Hampshire.  Ropp’s legislative advocacy led the passing of an Auricular Acupuncture Detoxification Specialists Law in New Hampshire in 2017. Ropp is an elected county official. She continues to educate the public about the benefits of NADA and acupuncture around the Granite State.  

Mallory Harman graduated from the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine (OCOM) in 2018 with a Masters degree in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. She spent the following four months working as an acupuncturist and primary care provider with the Acupuncture Relief Project in Bajrabarahi, Nepal. Since that time she has traveled to Juárez, Mexico on two separate occasions to observe and work with the not-for-profit Crossroads Acupuncture. She currently lives in Portland, OR offering acupuncture groups at the Native American Rehabilitation Association (NARA), assistant teaching at OCOM, and running a small private practice in the historic Alberta district. Read more about Mallory’s experience teaching in Mexico in this article she published in Medicinal Roots Magazine.

Ryan Bemis is co-founder of Crossroads and our health promotion school Promotores Descalzos in Latin America. Click here to learn more about Ryan.

Apprenticeship Program for a NADA Ear Acupuncture (Acudetox) Trainers

6 Nov

Crossroads Acupuncture has limited apprentice opportunities for teachers to become Registered National Acupuncture Detoxification Association (NADA) ear acupuncture (ADS) trainers in both the US and in Latin America. The process and timeline to become an official trainer depends on various factors.

If you are interested in apprenticing with Crossroads to become a NADA trainer, here are the steps to take.

  • Email a cover letter and resume to Crossroads Acupuncture outlining relevant experience that qualifies you to become a NADA Trainer.
  • Include a 2 page essay explaining why you want to be a trainer, where you want to bring the NADA model to, how your work aligns with Crossroads’ mission, and why Crossroads would be the best program for you to apprentice with.
  • If you have not taken a full NADA ADS training, register for one of Crossroads’ upcoming trainings.
  • If you want to become a NADA trainer in the US or Canada, you will need to be familiar with this process. Visit the NADA USA website to read further.

In general, Crossroads limits apprenticing opportunities for candidates with the following experience and interest:

Nicaragua Acupuncture Solidarity Immersion

30 Oct

Coming again in 2021! Stay tuned and email to get on our mailing list so you can learn when we are heading back to Nica!


Click here for full details

+ Get your Certification as an Acupuncture Detoxification Specialist 

+Fulfills didactic and intern requirements for therapists/nurses/health/harm reduction workers to become Nationally Certified as Acupuncture Detoxification Specialists (National Acupuncture Detoxification Association NADA ear acupuncture providers)

+Intern alongside local community workers offering care for trauma 

+Gain first-hand clinical experience in assisting with grassroots barefoot acupuncture programs

+Inter-cultural exchange to learn about the root causes that drive migration in the Americas

Crossroads will teach you how to set up and sustain an acudetox clinic  within public health settings in your community 

+Opportunity to support solidarity and resilience building in Nicaragua 

+First step for teachers wanting to become certified NADA ear acupuncture trainers (Learn more about our apprentice program here)

+Bilingual English/Spanish

+To hear more about Crossroads past immersion programs have been like, listen to this Madness Radio Interview with Crossroads students in their 2016 immersion program in the Sierra Tarahumara region of Mexico.

Students offering community based services in Nicaragua, 2019
Susana, Mayan healer in Guatemala, offers community based ear acupuncture in Coban, during our Healer 2 Healer NADA training and cross cultural exchange, 2019.


How to apply a standardized ear acupuncture protocol and establish community-supported services to treat addictions, stress, anxiety, PTSD, depression, and psychological and emotional trauma.

To apply, follow these directions:

1 Download the registration form

2 Email this form along with a 2 page essay outlining what experience you possess that qualifies you to participate in this immersion program.

3 Cost is $1000 if you register early, $1200 after 12/31/19.

4 A minimal deposit of $550 is required to secure your place. Full payment details are detailed in the registration form.   Payment in full must be received by December 31 to qualify for the early registration discount.  Please make checks out to Crossroads Acupuncture. Credit card payments may be made here.

5 You can also mail the registration form with all documents and deposit to:  Crossroads Acupuncture, 1320 S. Solano Las Cruces, NM 88001 or email

Students in Nicaragua, 2019
Refugee in the border region receives NADA ear acupuncture

About Crossroads’ immersion experience

Since Crossroads was founded in 2010 in response to violence in Mexico, we have facilitated immersion programs for dozens of volunteers and students to be a part of our vision for making healthcare something real and authentic within underserved communities. Our NADA ear acupuncture training program is unique in offering not only a path to certification for Acupuncture Detoxification Specialists, but also a cross-cultural educational program to learn about the root causes that drive migration in the Americas.

Cultivating solidarity in the Americas

Pamela Angel (left), student from Amador Health Center in Las Cruces, NM, at our immersion program in the Sierra Tarahumara, Mexico, 2016. Maria Pichardo (right) Assistant teacher from Juarez, Mexico.

Crossroads’ work comes out of a solidarity with communities affected by the changing socio-political context in the western hemisphere. On the US/Mexico border, we work with refugees and migrants seeking asylum.

Walking alongside people as they re-build their communities and assist those in need, we cultivate relationships, and out of these connections, we have the opportunity to build bridges across borders.

Our volunteers stay with local host families and develop long-term relationships with local community workers.  They hear from people affected by trauma and poverty their stories of resilience building. From this cross-border exchange, we strive to cross cultural and class barriers while empowering local communities affected by trauma with a greater capacity to respond to their own healthcare needs.  

Beyond a medical missions project

Our 2016 immersion cohort of US students from Amador Health Center, National Alliance for Mentally Ill (NAMI), and Tesoro Integrative Healthcare.

We understand the limitations of outside aid in the aftermath of disaster and violence. Crossroads works to educate our students about the value of a sustainable, community-supported health program, in contrast to a hit-and-run medical aid project. Students will learn new skillsets to help people affected by trauma and gain a deep understanding of how acupuncture works as a humanitarian aid intervention and empowerment tool.  You will have the opportunity to not only offer direct service, but will be a co-participant in  making community supported healthcare possible.

In the spirit of the Barefoot Doctor Movement in China, our goal is to help local community workers establish and sustain these types of health services for their own people in rural and urban areas of Nicaragua, in places that lack access to doctors and medical care, let alone acupuncture.

Students and volunteers of Crossroads in Mexico

Free trauma care for El Paso shooting survivors and first responders

5 Aug

Monday August 5, 2019
For immediate release:

Local licensed therapists and acupuncturists are offering free services for survivors, first responders and families of those affected by the El Paso Wal Mart shooting.

Community ear acupuncture (acudetox) has been used in the aftermath of other shootings and terrorist attacks, such as 9/11 in New York City, and in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico in response to violence in recent years.  Volunteers have offered over 300 treatments at the memorial site at the Cielo Vista Wal Mart, for people affected since the day of the mass shooting, Saturday August 3. A report “El Paso Community, Volunteers Come Together To Mourn And Try To Heal” about the acupuncture response was aired on KRWG on Friday August 16th.

The treatment can be helpful for anxiety, stress and symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). 

This form of trauma care can be found at centers throughout the region including El Paso, Juarez, Anthony and Las Cruces.  Those interested in receiving support can call 575-312-6569, where anyone can receive a referral to a location in the border region.

The response is a collaboration of specialists including the National Alliance for Mental Illness, Families and Youth, INC and Crossroads Acupuncture based out of 1320 S Solano in Las Cruces, Casa Vida at 3501 Hueco El Paso, Texas, the Catholic Diocese of Cd Juarez, and Mariana Salcido, Coordinator for mental health for the city of Juarez.

“We originally started working in the region in response to the violence in Juarez in 2010. That was how our project got started, so we have been working with people affected by violence, by trauma,” said Dr. Ryan Bemis, Executive Director of Crossroads Acupuncture, in an interview with KRWG. Bemis says that these types of ear acupuncture groups are good for creating safe spaces for people.. Bemis is a former acupuncturist for the Department of Defense’s Fort Bliss Warrior Resilience PTSD clinic in El Paso, TX.

Learn more:


Residents in violent border city use acupuncture to cope with trauma, by Angela Kocherga and Hugo Perez on the Border News Bureau

Acupuncture for the trauma spectrum response, in the military Samueli Institute

NADA Ear Acu Training in Guatemala

29 May

Crossroads Acupuncture and Healer2Healer are offering a special NADA ear acupuncture (acudetox) training and cross-cultural experience in Coban, Guatemala. This is a special opportunity to learn this model of care for addictions, trauma, mental health and humanitarian aid, and gain a deeper understanding of indigenous healing for Mayan communities in Central America. You will be learning this technique alongside local community workers in Guatemala.

10 NCCAOM CEU’s (pending approval) for Acupuncturists

Schedule for Training

Live Webinar (TBD): Introduction to the NADA Ear Acupuncture Model (Free for those interested but not committed to taking the training)

Oct 12 and 13: Travel to Guatemala

Oct 14-17 Training in Coban

Oct 18-19: Return Travel

About the NADA training:

  • Fulfills didactic educational requirements for therapists/nurses/health/harm reduction workers to become an Acupuncture Detoxification Specialist (ADS) through the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association (NADA). 26 US states currently allow for non-acupucturists to offer this protocol. Email for specifics on your locality.
  • Students will learn application both in behavioral health/addictions/harm reduction as well as for trauma/humanitarian aid/disaster response. This is a fundamental skillset for any acupuncturist interested in working or volunteering abroad, for disaster relief or working in public health settings
  • Clean Needle Technique and gentle auricular acupuncture skillsets
  • Best practices for managing community acupuncture, NADA ear acupuncture groups, and treating multiple patients in one setting
  • First step for acupuncturists interested in becoming NADA ear acupuncture trainers
  • Communication, and empowerment skills for outreach, advocacy, marketting and public health education on the integration of NADA ear acupuncture into a community health setting
  • Science, research and history of the application of acupuncture for trauma, mental health and addictions
  • Simple, fundamental skills and knowledge for working within addictions recovery
  • Cultural competency for applying acupuncture in general in cross-cultural settings
  • Sustainable community health development for acupuncture-based models of care
  • Training offers materials, internship, support for the process of state and national ADS certification/licensing, and mentorship in starting up your own NADA program

About Participating in the Healer to Healer program:

This NADA training offers you the opportunity to work directly with a local Coban Women’s Group. They have been working with Healer 2 Healer for nearly 10 years and work with other humanitarian groups. They have been treating their own patients as well as driving the force of community change and revival of ancestral Mayan healing practices in Coban and surrounding communities. This October trip connects you directly with other local women’s groups in order to offer an authentic cultural exchange.

Registration: a 2 part process

To reserve your space for this program, please follow these directions:

  1. For the NADA training component:
    1. Early registration discount ends August 7th. The discount will equal $485 and offers you a $150 discount if you pay in full by August 7th.
    2. After 8/7/19, the cost will be $635 for the NADA training component.
    3. Refund at 90% will be given up until 1 month prior to the training. Cancellation afterwards will not receive a refund.
    4. If you are paying by PO or later check, cancellation policy still applies.
    5. Send at least a deposit of $300 to secure your place for the NADA training.
    6. Please make checks out to Crossroads Acupuncture. Crossroads Acupuncture, 1320 S. Solano Las Cruces, NM 88001.
    7. Or to pay by credit card or online, go to this link:
    8. Then email with a letter of interest and a current resume. Questions about the Crossroads ADS training: Call Ryan Bemis: 575-936-0200
  2. For the Healer 2 Healer (H2H) experience
    1. If you are taking this NADA training, in addition you will have to apply to be part of the H2H program. Send an email to and a form will be sent to you automatically. Fill it out and send back via email. We will notify you within 7-10 days.
    2. The cost for participation in H2H will be an additional $650 for the early discount if you pay by July 15th. After this date the H2H cost will be $700. This cost includes all major expenses for your journey while you are in Guatemala:
      1. Group shuttles from hotel in Guatemala City to Coban (and return) (Note: if you miss the shuttles you pay for your own).
      2. Group shuttles in Coban from hotel. (Note: If you miss the shuttle, you pay for your own).
      3. Accommodations: One night in Guatemala City, Coban clinic nights, one night in Antigua
      4. Breakfast for all days
      5. H2H Group Dinners first and last nights
      6. CEU’s for LAc’s (pending NCCAOM approval)
      7. Clinic experience for participants
      8. (Doesn’t include additional meals, snacks or flight to/from Guatemala.)
    3. Learn more about H2hH here. Questions about H2H and this particular group participation: Email Frederic Lim email

About the NADA Training Program

Crossroads Acupuncture, a 501-c-3 organization has trained over a 250 providers in Acudetox since 2011, and has helped communities in the border region provide over 90,000 treatments primarily within underserved areas.  Click here to learn about Crossroads’ NADA Registered Trainer, Ryan Bemis.

Articles/Essays on Crossroads’ training program

Safe space, solidarity and something more than air conditioning, Commencement address by Ryan Bemis at the 2018 Doctoral and Master’s graduating classes at the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine in Portland, Oregon

“A Million Tiny Daggers,” Essay within Acid West, by Joshua Wheeler
Residents in violent border city use acupuncture to cope with trauma, by the Border News Bureau:

Helping Mexico’s poor and mentally ill, by the Border News Bureau:

Acupuncture for healing in border communities, By Molly Molloy, Latina Lista

East meets SouthWest, Las Cruces Bulletin story on Crossroads:–cruces-bulletin-by-zak-hansen/

“The community trainer:  Making Acupuncture Accessible,” within “Untold Stories of American Acupuncturists,” by Bonnie Koenig and Jason Stein.

NADA solidarity with refugees as a hard rain falls

17 May

By Ryan Bemis, DOM

Originally published on Blue Poppy Press

April 1, 2019

I like to hike up into the Franklin Mountains above my home, the rugged high desert ridges that form the farthest western border tip of Texas, along a trail above a white giant Texas Star beaming south off of the mountainside towards Mexico, way up to a place where I can look down and I cannot distinguish where the international border line is. I can’t see the Rio Grande river. I can’t see the wall. I can’t see that line where the United States becomes Mexico – I can’t tell where “America” begins or ends.

I just see these two cities—El Paso and Juarez—blend together as one community.  And I like to imagine, sitting up there, looking down, that we’re all just one as a people.

And then I have to slap myself, wake myself up   Because “We are one” is not reality in the borderlands,not reality in America.  Unity is a dream right now. The border is real.  It shapes the narrative of the people.  

We are divided in America, right here, right now.  This is palpable.  And yet immigrants are coming here from around the world right now, fleeing war and extortion and pistols pointed at their heads, crossing jungles, over deserts, across oceans, leaving behind buried family, bringing with their babies in arms, arriving out of vulnerability, searching for safety.

Their hope: that we the people will welcome them in solidarity. 

But instead they’re too often called criminals. They’re locked up, put into cages, or cast away and rejected.  These are the realities of America.

Just dreaming about a better world from up on that mountain top looking down at the border doesn’t do a thing.  The ongoing human rights catastrophe of how we respond to refugees at the US-Mexico Border poses an existential challenge to our nation’s integrity. It shakes us out of our comfort zone.  

There’s a lot of hard work to be done.  The NADA acupuncture model opens the door for us to do some of this work. 

Tens of thousands of migrants have traversed the continent arriving at the US border in recent months, begging for asylum.  From Honduras and Cuba and Uganda and Venezuela and places that this globalized world has failed, their struggle to survive has driven them to the banks of the Rio Grande, to the desert, to the wall.  

Walking over the bridge today, I see hundreds of migrants corralled in custody of Customs and Border Protection (CBP), huddled under space blankets, the children and adults, with pieces of these tattered silver plastic sheets clinging to the razor wire strung above the chain link fences caging them, rattled by the cold March desert wind.  They sit on the dirt and the gravel. They wait their turn to be processed by a fugue of racist bureaucracy, out of which they are most likely to, in the end, be imprisoned or deported back to the very places they fled out of fear.  Many are kids who have suffered human rights abuses, some are dying, at the hands these authorities.  Many immigrants have been hiding from immigration agents lurking in the shadows of our neighborhoods since Trump took office.  

None of this makes sense at all.  At least to me.   What does make sense in my intersection with this borderland reality is sticking needles in the ears of people and creating circles for them to sit within a supportive community of care in silence.  And teaching other people within these communities how to hold this type of safe space.  A growing number of these refugees are sheltered within local churches who offer hospitality and healthcare to people under siege.   We partner with them.  As a full body acupuncturist, I have the opportunity to witness these non-acupuncturists–NADA-trained volunteers–find bold new ways to offer this model of care: for migrants camped out on this bridge, inside Sunday school rooms, on pews after mass, in an overcrowded shelter alongside 600 other refugees.  

Who are these people sitting silently together with needles hanging from their ears?  A Colombian man who escaped a civil war in his home decades ago.   A Guatemalan woman fleeing violence, carrying her infant baby by herself.  A Cuban man who traversed Panamanian jungles escaping bandits and panthers to cross America. A Rwandan man whose entire family was executed, and as the lone survivor has passed through a dozen countries en-route to the US/Mexico border. 

The NADA model gives us the opportunity to check our othering of migrants at the door and be radically present for whomever is knocking.  Having hundreds of people now trained in the NADA protocol throughout the borderlands, ready and integrated into local communities, the ability to offer acupuncture makes our community more able to respond with compassion, to be able to open that door and step into their own humanity.  

We remember here in the borderlands the Latino roots of the spirit of NADA now some 45 years since NADA rose out of a place of poverty and injustice and racism in the Bronx, just miles from Lady Liberty’s all-are-welcome torch, where another Latino community survived hard times by digging into the grassroots, out of which they transcended their social reality and inspired an international movement of solidarity, and created an authentic acupuncture-based preferential option for the poor.  It is this spirit of solidarity with the poorest of the poor, wherever we stand offering acupuncture in America, that keeps us grounded and focused as a hard rain falls across this land.   

Ryan Bemis, DOM, serves as Executive Director of Crossroads Community Supported Healthcare, a 501c3 Non-profit organization whose mission is to make acupuncture affordable and accessible to people of all income levels through the support of local communities.  Donate through their GoFundMe Campaign which supports their Refugee Care Program.  To find more information on volunteering as a teacher for their community acupuncture school in Mexico, Promotores Descalzos (Barefoot Health Promoters), visit to

Light and Dark in the Deep South Series

16 Jan

Originally published in Guidepoints: News from NADA

Light and Dark in the Deep South

Part 1:  AAAOM Law Spoils NADA South Carolina

By Ryan Bemis

In 2005 the AAAOM endorsed a bill that stamped NADA out of South Carolina.  Top acu-addictions expert Alan Trachtenberg pins protectionist policies on acu-guild interests.

Guidepoints, February 2010

“Continue to give strength and wisdom to those burdened with leadership and decisions….” from a prayer read to South Carolina House Representatives March 27, 2003, hours before the Herbkersman bill was introduced.   

Some say it takes a lottery ticket to do great things.  Others say it takes great leaders.  Last March, a local paper asked one South Carolina NADA-trained acupuncturist what he would do if he won the lottery.  Affordable acupuncture for the addicted was the dream he described.  Today, no known South Carolina licensed acupuncturists (LAcs) work in addictions treatment. But in years past, without waiting for a lottery win, NADA style treatment did exist in the state. Addiction patients benefitted from the services of non-LAc, NADA-trained Acu Detox Specialists (ADSes). That is, until a new state law took away that option.

NADA-trained paramedic Chuck Bagley says he received a green light to pilot an acu detox program in five correctional facilities in the stateHis only barrier was the passing of a new acupuncture law (H 3891), endorsed by the American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (AAAOM), an acupuncturist-run guild identifying itself as “the unifying force for American acupuncturists.”

Proponent LAc’s claim the 2005 law spells progress for themselves and turf-checks physicians who must now be authorized by another acu guild authorizing body (the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM)) in order to practice acupuncture.  The bill also eliminates the need for LAcs to be supervised or referred by a physician, a big step in a state where, years earlier, LAcs worked only under on-site “direct supervision” of an MD.

The new law now authorized LAcs to dictate on-site “direct supervision” for all ADSes, a glaring anti-NADA policy.  As a result, South Carolina NADA trained workers say they cannot needle because their agencies cannot afford to hire an on-site LAc.

Why should ADSes need on-site direct supervision?  Guidepoints asks a leading acupuncture and addictions researcher. “There’s no reason,” replies Alan Trachtenberg, who organized the 1997 National Institute of Health Consensus Development Conference on acupuncture and headed their Office of Alternative Medicine (precursor to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine). He attributes protectionist laws, like South Carolina’s, which also bans physicians from providing acupuncture care, to the interests of acupuncture guilds.

Meanwhile, several NADA members point to a former acupuncture guild leader, AAAOM Ex-President Martin Herbkersman, as the driving force behind cutting ADSes out of the state.

The Columbia-based LAc denies this allegation and blames the insertion of “direct supervision” on an unnamed legislator.  However, his brother, Rep. William Herbkersman was a legislator at this time, and was, in fact, co-sponsor of the bill.  Furthermore, Acupuncture Today(April, 2005) applauds the family pair as successful engineers of the bill. The bill’s original text includes the anti-NADA language when introduced on March 27, 2003. To read the full text of the bill, go to:

Herbkersman affirms that the AAAOM gave the authors of H3891 access to model legislation templates around the country, in particular nearby southeastern states.  One local LAc (the source would like to remain unnamed out of fear of provoking controversy) reports that Herbkersman said the 2005 bill was based on a failed 2002 South Carolina acupuncture law which was taken from a Georgia law (see Guidepoints, May 2002). Both of these laws included “direct supervision.”  In Georgia, mirroring its neighbor, no known non-LAc ADSes practice.

The AAAOM appears in perfect accord with the anti-NADA language of the 2003 bill. “Yes they should have direct supervision because they’re technicians, not acupuncturists,” says sitting AAAOM President Deborah Lincoln.  Meanwhile, Mina Larson, the public relations spokeswoman for NCCAOM (AAAOM counterpart), goes so far as to assert that all ADSes “should be licensed as acupuncturists” before needling the ear.

Trachtenberg disagrees.  “The licensed acupuncturists certainly have no data to show that what they do is any safer than what ADSes do.   If there’s no data, why make that policy or law?”

AAAOM guild leader Lincoln explains their anti-NADA law was “based on one we put together for national consensus.”  Her predecessor, Martin Herbkersman, refuses to believe that his law should necessarily rub NADA off the map, a state of denial to which the NCCAOM also clings.  Both praise the recently passed anti-NADA Delaware acupuncture law as “ideal legislation” even though it outlaws the practice of 19 veteran ADSes, many of whom had delivered acu care to thousands of under-served clients since 1993.

Sitting South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford (currently under fire for an extramarital affair) foresaw problems and vetoed W. Herbkersman’s bill, stating in a letter to the Senate that “it was unduly burdensome and imposed unnecessary regulatory restrictions on the profession”.  In the end, Herbkersman struck back, turned against his Republican leader and led the overriding of the veto. In December 2004, the Governor predicted the bill would “smother opportunity and stifle productivity for some South Carolinians.”

Opportunities were likewise smothered by the bill’s demand for ADSes to complete NCCAOM’s clean needle technique course required for full body acupuncturists. To pass the course, South Carolina ADSeswould have to needle full body points, points for which they are prohibited by the same law to needle.

It is not clear if ADS Bill Wells would actually be put behind bars if he needled full-body points during a NCCAOM clean needle course.  The South Carolina medical board has not responded to Guidepointsqueries on such penalties.  Nonetheless, Bill says he cannot afford the $300 NCCAOM course or hire an on-site LAc supervisor and thus cannot treat his pain pill-addicted clients, fulfilling Gov. Sanford’s prophecy. The NCCAOM clean needle course requirement “makes no sense” to Trachtenberg and is dubbed a “a straw dog” by NADA President Kenneth “Ken” Carter who already trained Bill in NADA’s clean needle training, accepted as safe and standard procedure in all other NADA friendly states.  Ken criticizes the makers of Herbkersman’s bill as “manipulative” and having an “ulterior motive.”

“What is on Dr. Herbkersman’s agenda for the future?” asks Acupuncture Today (April, 2005) to which he replied: “Protecting our new law.”  His law created a special committee within the medical board for which he assumed chairmanship upon passage in 2005.  What his law didn’t allow him to do was call himself a “Dr.,” a title he alone bears among his colleagues on his state association’s website, though he has never attended medical school or a doctoral acupuncture program.  Herbkersman himself challenges a Guidepoints reporter with the question:  if ADSes are allowed to needle the ear with the five-point protocol, “What prevents someone to do a knee protocol?  I’m just curious.”

Ken, who is a medical doctor, responds that NADA trainees do not learn and are not authorized to needle points other than the five-point protocol; the NCCAOM clean needle course is absolutely outside their scope of practice. He laments the lost foothold of the 56 non-LAc South Carolina ADSes, many of whom he personally trained and mentored. They worked in churches, hospitals, dual diagnosis programs, a medical school and a pain clinic. In a state named “conservative in many ways” by Herbkersman, ADSes had to confront many insular elements in their pioneering.  However, no obstacles blocked their progress like his bill, H 3891.  At the conclusion of the Guidepoints interview, Herbkersman requested he not be credited as the bill’s author.

Five years since NADA was sidelined in South Carolina, Ken contemplates, “I can’t help but think about the forces of light and dark.  You always have to ask yourself: What side do you want to be on there?  The forces of darkness were against NADA in South Carolina.”

Light and Dark in the Deep South Part 2: Direct Pulse on Crazy Laws and Addicts in Prison

By Ryan Bemis

Guidepoints, April 2010

Martin Herbkersman’s acupuncture law continues to prevent Chuck Bagley from treating prisoners and 12-steppers with acu detox. The AAAOM remains silent on how they achieved consensus before endorsing the Herbkersman anti-NADA law. Several sources tell Guidepoints that the AAAOM is not anti-NADA. 

“Then I saw that wisdom excels folly as light excels darkness,” Ecclesiastes 2:13, read to the South Carolina Senate before Sen. Robert W. Hayes, Jr. requested to allow general supervision of ADSes, Wednesday, April 23, 2008. 

“It’s one of South Carolina’s crazy laws,” remarks paramedic Chuck Bagley of the Herbkersman bill (H 3891). The law “most likely” had national consensus on its side, or at least that is what acupuncture guild leader Deborah Lincoln recalled in a Guidepoints interview in January 2010. Guidepoints has since asked Lincoln to explain how national consensus was obtained but received no answer yet. One thing is clear: NADA was never consulted. In April, she stepped down as president of the American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (AAAOM).

Chuck planned to install NADA programs in South Carolina prisons to aid inmates suffering from acute withdrawal symptoms. “I had a plan worked out and the prison people saw no problem with it.” He maintains he was blocked only by licensed acupuncturists (LAcs) on the medical board. “They say that we can’t do anything without direct supervision.”

In his 20-year paramedic/EMT career Chuck cannot recall once when he was required to be supervised directly by an on-site physician, let alone a LAc, to perform his duties. “If they let me put a chest tube into your chest, why won’t they let me stick a needle in your ear?” Chuck started in emergency medicine in 1967 and was one of the first paramedics trained in his state in 1974.

The chair of the South Carolina acupuncture committee and architect of the 2005 anti-NADA bill, Martin Herbkersman, affirms that no LAc works in addictions programs across the state. “Some were going to. The question is: ‘Who’s going to pay for it?’”

Chuck arranged a minimum-wage salary to provide regular acu detox groups at York County correctional facilities. “I was able to go on a daily basis. I was going to have an entire cell block to treat.” He recalls appealing to Herbkersman’s acupuncture committee. “That’s where I got stonewalled.” Chuck suggested cell phones, which paramedics tote on the job, could suffice for “general” off-site supervision of ADSes. “I couldn’t put my finger on what the problem was. It was kind of like we were a threat to them.”

Alan Trachtenberg, a key figure in U.S. government activities related to both general acupuncture and to acu detox, cites “a long history” in the U.S. of “acupuncturists sniping at physicians who do acupuncture; physicians sniping at acupuncturists; acupuncturists sniping at ADSes.” Acupuncture is the only medical procedure excluded from MD’s scope of practice in states like South Carolina, which he calls “a real anomaly” among medical laws in the U.S. In some states, he explains, physicians like himself are permitted to perform surgery while at the same time prohibited from needling acupuncture points, raising the question: “Is acupuncture more dangerous than brain surgery?” Trachtenberg helped facilitate lifting the FDA ban on acupuncture needles in the mid ’90s. “Let’s be honest: Acupuncture is not brain surgery!”

Herbkersman argues that full-body LAcs “tend to treat holistically.” He illuminates his attitude towards ADSes, calling them “lower tiers,” insisting they “are not the main concern.” Meanwhile, Trachtenberg, who has unfailingly promoted the role of ADSes on national forums each time the issue has come up, says ADSes work closely with communities of addictions recovery when compared to LAcs. Even Herbkersman, who works in private practice, admits, “I don’t have my hand on the pulse of that community.”

Chuck has been feeling pulses of recovering addicts for decades. As a paramedic, he’s had “to go into jails and get them out of there for anything from seizures to full-blown withdrawals because they couldn’t get into a treatment center.” Now retired, he continues to help prisoners through NA and AA outreach. “I got to see how addicts end up in jails. That’s where I really see the need for acu detox.”

With few treatment slots open in York County, more recovering addicts turn to 12-step groups which have been indispensable, says Chuck. At times they break open the Big Book in their own garages. Groups meet throughout the day and night at the Rockhill Serenity Club, where he has served as a board member for 15 years. He envisions NADA-style treatments there, too, estimating 150 potential daily entrants. “It all depends on that one hurdle (direct supervision) that’s holding all the water in the world back.”

Herbkersman says he can’t help, and continues to dispute NADA, asking, “Are we giving them the fullness of the medicine if they only did NADA points?” He recalls one formative experience as an acupuncture student which guides his vision for addictions treatment. Decades ago during an intern stint at an addictions program in the Southern California beach community of Marina Del Ray, he was permitted to needle full-body acupuncture points.

Herbkersman’s ignorance of NADA calls to mind another former AAAOM president, Dr. Harvey Kaltsas. In 1993, in a letter to the highest U.S. governmental authorities in addictions treatment (including 2 U.S. Senators), Kaltsas representing himself as the AAAOM president, attacked NADA in spite of widespread support for NADA within the acupuncture prorfession (including the AAAOM).  Later in the letter, he asked the federal government for $25,000 in discretionary funds to help him trail blaze a new addictions education program for acupuncturists. In the end, Kaltsas’ failure to consult NADA and other national acupuncture organizations undermined his efforts and contributed to rife and costly divisions throughout the acupuncture profession.

Notwithstanding, a sober inquiry into the process by which he gathered consensus for an anti-NADA bill within the acupuncture guild is warranted. Guidepoints has submitted a request to the AAAOM asking for board meeting minutes when their endorsement of Herbkersman’s anti-NADA law was discussed. At press time, no response was received. Herbkersman was a board member during this time, before his organization merged with the Alliance. (Editorial note: the Alliance had been the pro-NADA national acupuncture organization from 1994 to 2007, when it merged with AAOM to form the AAAOM.) NADA supporters have waited to see if the new AAAOM would benefit NADA (See Guidepoints, March 2007).

Consensus or not, could the Herbkersman bill be dismissed as a misguided policy of the past, a mere shadow of the notorious “old guard” of the acupuncture profession? Several senior guild leaders resigned last spring. Various sources from inside and outside the guild leadership tell Guidepoints that today the AAAOM is not anti-NADA. As new AAAOM leaders take the stage in 2010, NADA president Kenneth “Ken” Carter encourages the AAAOM to support ADSes like Chuck Bagley. Meanwhile, the AAAOM has clarified how they support legislation. Executive Director Rebekah Christensen relays that AAAOM work is only done on a state-by state basis, from directives of state acupuncture groups, irrespective of how it affects NADA. Therefore fertile testing ground for how the AAAOM or any acupuncture group supports non-LAc ADSes remains in key contested states.

News of progress in these states was a highlight of the 2010 NADA Conference in New Orleans in March. Members heard from Phillip Oliver, Sr., an Atlanta ADS pioneer who had been treating chronic pain of sickle cell patients in acu detox groups. He rejected any notion that his strict state regulations could hold his NADA team back. “Things will change. They have to. A provider can’t challenge a patient who says, ‘This is going to help me.'” Phillip died of a heart attack weeks later. Last time we spoke, he invoked the civil rights movement as a blueprint for NADA’s new mission. “It didn’t happen ‘til the people made it happen.”

NADA sends our thoughts to the family and colleagues of Phillip Oliver, Sr.   


Light and Dark in the Deep South, Part 3: LAcs Lack Jobs as Herbkersman Stops NADA Again

By Ryan Bemis

Guidepoints, July 2010
In the third part of an investigation into turf protectionism in South Carolina, Guidepoints discovers that again Rep. William Herbkersman effectively stood against NADA in 2008 when Bill Wells attempted pro-NADA legislation (S 799).  Two years later, his brother Martin Herbkersman cites a severe shortage of jobs for LAcs, while NADA advocates in other states report that ADS-friendly legislation creates jobs for LAcs.

“Our hearts go out to the disadvantaged, to the poor, to those with little or no access to health care.” From a prayer read to South Carolina Senators before they ratified the pro-NADA law, S 799, May 29, 2008.

With Acu Detox Specialists sidelined in South Carolina, opportunities for acupuncturists are also limited.  One half of all acupuncturists are out of work, estimates former acupuncture guild leader Martin Herbkersman.  He avows that getting acupuncturists (LAcs) jobs in public health would happen if national legislation were passed to authorize Medicare coverage for acupuncture.  For 17 years, guild leaders of the American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (AAAOM) have ventured to do this, but haven’t achieved it.

Without waiting for them, NADA advocates–both LAcs and non-LAcs–have for 25 years opened the door for acupuncturists in public health in several states.  For example, one of the most conservative acupuncture communities in the country–New Mexico–supported a pro-NADA law in 2001.  In turn, they created 16 new jobs for acupuncturists to work as off-site “general” supervisors.   Today, nine years later, 20 mostly rural public health programs–each relying on the New Mexico Department of Health’s (DOH) assistance–depend on Acu Detox Specialists (ADSes) to offer acu detox to thousands of low-income clients each year.   The state can’t afford to hire licensed acupuncturists to do all the needling, DOH officials report, but instead prefer to utilize existing NADA-trained staff as a cost-effective acu detox delivery model.

Funding is also tight in the Southeast.   South Carolina state budget cuts recently led to one premier detoxification program in Spartanberg to close.  Keeping existing addictions services available “is a feat in this economy,” explains Keystone Executive Director Janet Martini.  In 2009, Keystone provided addictions prevention, intervention and treatment for 127,000 South Carolinans “regardless of ability to pay”–no small feat.  Someday Janet hopes to use her already NADA-trained staff to add acu detox to their menu of services, but can’t afford to hire an on-site “direct” supervising LAc as mandated by the 2005 Herbkersman anti-NADA law (H 3891).

NADA activist Bill Wells set forth to change this.  Hope of NADA outreach in 12-step groups, prisons, a juvenile drug court and other public health programs also depended on him.   Wells brought his concerns to the acupuncture committee.  He made personal pleas to the chair, Martin Herbkersman. As NADA’s point person in South Carolina, Wells’ case was strong: no Acu Detox Specialists (ADSes) had been able to practice in the two years since the Herbkersman anti-NADA law passed.  Herbkersman made his case clear to Wells:  he told him that only LAcs should be able to perform acu detox, reports Wells. Nothing less than a new law could revive NADA programs.

How Herbkersman Stopped NADA
In May 2007, Wells garnered support from South Carolina Senator Wes Hayes to introduce S 799, a public health initiative to remove “direct” supervision requirements of ADSes, hence permitting ADSes to be supervised like any other ancillary medical worker, an ADS practice that has proved to be safe in the state since 1997. His pro-NADA law would ultimately fail. However, records of the complex and drawn out sausage-making process of the bill reveal that Wells was not to blame.

Passed in the Senate, the bill arrived in the House in 2008, where a committee removed the pro-NADA initiative (which was the only wording contained in the bill).  The reason why remains surreptitious.  The identity of the culprit legislator blamed for inserting the anti-NADA language (into H 3891) in the first place has not been revealed.  Martin Herbkersman has denied responsibility for the fate of ADSes from both H 3891 and S 799.  However, House records show that his brother, Rep. William Herbkersman, insisted on wiping out the pro-NADA bill (S 799) and replacing the entire with a score of unrelated amendments.  One of these amendments was to permit LAc’s like Herbkersman to legally carry the title, “Doctor.”

The Senate rejected the House’s measures and re-installed the pro-NADA clause. In retaliation, the House again struck the pro-NADA clause. This forced a seldom granted House-Senate open debate.  Known as a “Free Conference,” this unique debate aims to increase transparency in legislative discourse, and is only granted a few times a year under special circumstances, explains Senate Clerk Ken Moffitt.  As a result, six legislators, including Sen. Hayes (D) and Rep. Herbkersman (R), finally settled to retain both the Senate’s pro-NADA clause and the House’s five amendments, ratified as a group of amendments in May 2008. (Go to to follow the full legislative history)

Superfluous “bobtail” amendments have long been an enemy of Republican Governor Mark Sanford; any Carolina politician knows this.  And by the time Sen. Hayes’ plain and simple pro-NADA amendment (56 words; 2 sentences) arrived on Sanford’s desk, the House’s amendments had turned S 799 into sausage (640 words; including 4 unrelated amendments), subject to his scrutiny.  Gov. Sanford explained that he vetoed the package because he disagreed that LAcs need to bear the title “Doctor.”  The veto was overridden by the Senate.  The House, however, sustained it, with Rep. Herbkersman, suddenly voting to sustain the veto.  After confusing the legislative process by promoting unrelated amendments destined to sink the entire bill (which included the pro-NADA amendment), Rep. Herbkersman switched to kill the bill in June 2008.

LAcs Need Jobs, ADSes Need Their Help
The Pro-NADA S 799 died two years ago, about the same time Bob Stanford graduated from acupuncture school.  Now practicing in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, Sanford reports his acupuncture clinic has “been slow this year.”   Across the state, in Columbia, Martin Herbkersman takes on a critical inquiry into the acupuncture profession:  “What are the options coming out of school?”

Typical acupuncture students, upon graduation, are burdened with over $100,000 in debt to pay, says another local LAc, William Hendry.  He points out that NADA training is cheap for ADSes, while the cost of a full body acupuncture degree “mandates a ‘for profit’ business.”  A recent survey confirms the dearth of LAcs employed in public health settings:  91% of LAcs are self employed.  Conducted by the National Certification Commission of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM), the survey is less pessimistic than Herbkersman’s 50% failure rate for LAcs, but confirms the under-employment in the acupuncture profession:  39% of survey respondents work 20 hours a week or less, and 59% work 30 hours a week or less.  Getting clients in the door is also a problem documented:   91% of LAcs see 10 or fewer new patients every week, while 33% see 10 or fewer returning patients per week.

“There’s not a lot of acupuncture around in general,” reports Sanford, who hopes to someday work in addictions treatment.  “People really aren’t sure about what (acupuncture) is and what it will do.”

Introducing new clients to the use of acupuncture needles for health care has been one common goal that leaders from both NADA and AAAOM share.  Wells offered his pain-pill addicted clients acu detox as part comprehensive pain management until protectionist policies struck deep, he reports.  “They have effectively cut out acu detox which has been shown to be extremely effective with addictions. It seems that acupuncturists in other states seem to not have a problem with it.  But South Carolina: different story.”

Many LAcs across the US have long stood by the role of ADS.  In Maryland, the acupuncture community supported a successful law change to remove ADS “direct” supervision requirements in 2004.  “The issue with direct supervision is, of course, money,” says NADA registered trainer and acupuncturist David Wurzel (See page _____ in this issue for a feature story on NADA Advocacy in Maryland).  “For the few years we had direct supervision there were no programs.  Simple as that.  If programs could afford to pay an acupuncturist full time to do the protocol then there would be no need for ADSes.  Direct supervision is basically saying pay me to do nothing.  Not a bad gig if one could get it.”

Today Wurzel has eight gigs as an ADS general off-site supervisor (visiting once monthly), earning $12,000 total last year in these roles–not a bad supplemental income for a LAc with a private practice.  Across the state, 8 Maryland LAcs are paid to assist 36 ADSes (10 new ADS applications pending).  As off-site ADS supervisors, other health professionals operate underneath their LAc license, just as medical doctors offer general supervision in the western healthcare delivery system.  Because of ADS/LAc collaboration, NADA Maryland’s acu care delivery system operates in twenty public health programs, from recovering veterans in inner-city Baltimore to a dual diagnosis program in the foothills of the Appalachia.

Working as an ADS general supervisor has other benefits for LAcs, as well.  Due to the relationships Wurzel has built within NADA programs, today–in his private practice, The Chi Farm–he treats ADSes as well as their children, their families and their friends.  Michael Bartlinski, the director at one Baltimore addictions program, believes the work of the ADSes needling the ear has “piqued the interest” of his clients–many now want to and are ready to receive full body acupuncture.  As ADSes continue perform the five-point protocol, Bartlinski would have Wurzel treat his clients’ chronic pain issues.

The Death of S 799:  From Simple Pro-NADA to Sausage

  1. Hayes introduces the pro-NADA bill S 799
    2. House strikes the pro-NADA clause and adds”bobtail” amendments
    3. Senate rejects House’s anti-NADA move
    4. House and Herbkersman insist on anti-NADA
    5. Herbkersman and Hayes have open debate
    6. Congress ratifies S 799 with both pro-NADA and Herbkersman clauses
    7. Gov. Sanford vetoes S 799 because of Herbkersman “Doctor” clause
    8. Senate and Hayes override veto
    9. House and Herbkersman sustain veto

A million tiny daggers, by Joshua Wheeler

30 Aug

Crossroads Acupuncture celebrated its newly renovated clinic space in Oct 2018 inside Families and Youth, INC with an Open House, a ribbon cutting ceremony provided by the Green Chamber of Commerce, and a book reading and book signing by Joshua Wheeler.  Refreshments will also be provided.

Wheeler’s book about Southern New Mexico, Acid West, which was included on Oprah’s Summer Reading List, includes a chapter “A Million Tiny Daggers” that features Crossroads’ work providing acupuncture for underserved communities in the border region.  Wheeler will offer a book reading, and also be available to discuss his writing of this book. Wheeler followed Crossroads’ volunteers around for 3 years prior to publishing this new book, which has received praise, in addition to, from the  Los Angeles Times,  The Los Angeles Review of Books, The Santa Fe New Mexican, and Spectrum Culture.

Crossroads moved its community acupuncture clinic into Families and Youth, INC (FYI) in 2017.  With FYI expanding its current mental health services, Crossroads is renovating its current clinic space within FYI’s main building on Solano to make a permanent home, which will include a direct entrance from the main FYI lobby.

Crossroads is a proud member of the Green Chamber of Commerce and remains committed to the Green Chamber’s Triple Bottom Line: People, Planet and Profit.

“Acupuncture as a healthcare modality has a relative low environmental impact on the planet,” says Ryan Bemis, Executive Director of the non-profit organization, Crossroads Acupuncture.  “The tiny hair thin needles that are used in acupuncture practice are the main waste product.  With the more than 75,000 treatments our project has provided, the needles have been disposed in a total of x4, 10-gallon bins.  In addition, acupuncture needles are extremely affordable.  It costs about 50 cents in clinic materials to provide one treatment.  We also offer acupuncture at an affordable rate, which is an important aspect of our Triple Bottom Line.  Of all of these 75k treatments, each patient pays out of pocket on average of $10 per person.”

Crossroads has been offering affordable acupuncture care in Las Cruces since 2012, and maintained a downtown clinic location off of the farmer’s market for several years before moving into the FYI building.  In addition to their community acupuncture clinic at FYI, they have established a network of free ear acupuncture clinics throughout the border region.  In addition, they support a project assisting people affected by violence in Juarez, Mexico, known as Flores de Juarez.  Crossroads’ mission is to make healthcare accessible and affordable to people of all income levels through the support of local communities.  Crossroads does do this through providing low-cost services, training health providers in cost-effective techniques, and helping underserved groups establish and sustain their own community supported health projects.