Learn Spanish and late summer check in

“Habla Espanol/Do you speak Spanish”…I’ve been getting that question a lot lately.

 “Un poquito/A little bit”…my answer.

 A few days ago…someone called on the phone and started to talk in Spanish…somehow I convinced him to come in, that acupuncture would probably be helpful. Once he was here, I walked down the hall and grabbed Enrique in the Administration office of the Latino Community Center to translate some of the gentleman’s concerns to me. But obviously, this method is unreliable. Getting some language software is on my list of things to do…they say just practicing 30 minutes a day over time builds fluency. I have used Rosetta Stone in the past and that is good.

 Spanish – from what I understand – is the world’s most spoken language. And with the swelling Hispanic/Latino population in America – it makes sense to learn an extra language so that we can help others who may not be adequately served – particularly in areas where migrant worker populations exist.

 Late Summer Check in – I say “late”, not “end”…we in Seattle are not prepared to cede blue skies and warm sunshine just yet to cold, wind, and rain.

Serena and I are approaching 20 months in existence. The summer appointment attrition seems to be past and we are back up to around 300 appointments/month, and speaking for myself…I am having fun…way more fun than in my previous boutique existence…even if the money is significantly less – so far. Money is not everything, and you can’t take it with you.

It gives me great satisfaction to be helping so many people…like T. who remarked this morning that her chronic RA symptoms are much better. She’s been coming twice a week and said she would not be able to afford to come with this frequency to a regular acupuncture. Then she scanned down our community wish list and asked me if we needed computers, help with our speaker system, etc. I said we were good in those areas, but perhaps she could write a testimonial if she feels like it.

I also find deep resonance with the lack of pretence required to do this work. People come here not looking for a white lab coated Mr. Chinese Medicine but for human beings who can be present and know how to help relieve pain and bring their body into balance. Not that I am any great master who perform any of those tasks with any reliability, but given the numbers, something must be working.

My favorite day this summer: It was 90 degrees so I bicycled with my daughter Pema to the lake and we went swimming. Mostly she hung on to my hands and asked me to tow her around while she kicked her feet and laughed. I played Creature from the Black Lagoon with her a few times. Then we rode our bikes home, stopping along a few spots I knew where the blackberries were good. A quick bite to eat and then I biked to the clinic. Somewhere in the middle of seeing patients, I looked down and realized I was still wearing my swimming shorts which were still a tad wet. Nobody seemed to really care.

river Jordan
Author: river Jordan

After graduating from the Northwest Institute of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine in 1997, I had a hobby practice for a few years before moving to Northern India to study Buddhism. During this time, I volunteered in a local clinic, giving acupuncture to Tibetan refugees and Indian nationals. <p> Returning to the U.S. in 2002, I started a typical insurance based acupuncture practice catering to the upper middle class. In 2005, following Hurricane Katrina, I volunteered with <a href="https://www.acuwithoutborders.org/" target="_blank">Acupuncturists Without Borders</a>, using community style acupuncture to treat trauma victims in a natural disaster setting. </p> Inspired by the power and efficacy of acupuncture in a post-disaster setting, I began to contemplate issues of socioeconomic class. What could be done to make acupuncture accessible to everyone and still provider a livable wage for an acupuncturist? After attending WCA's first conference in October of 2006, I had found the answer to that question. In January 2007, together with my partner Serena Sundaram, we founded <a href="https://www.communichi.org/" target="_blank">Communichi</a>, Seattle's first dedicated community acupuncture clinic. <p> As a Buddhist, I believe that healing begins in the mind. As the positive qualities of wisdom and compassion are cultivated in the mind of a practitioner, this...

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  1. I volunteered at Core

    I volunteered at Core El-Centro in Milwaukee.  They provide acupuncture and other health services to low-income populations in a predominantly hispanic community.  They had a handful of volunteer translators who were incredibly helpful, and they learned so much about TCM that one of the women even decided to enroll at MCOM.  https://www.core-elcentro.org/ 

    I’m sure they’d be happy to offer support and direction if you’re looking for other ways to incorporate translating into your acupuncture practice.

    “Let the beauty we love be what we do.  There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.” –Rumi


  2. The Annenberg Foundation has

    The Annenberg Foundation has a nice video series called Destinios. It’s an educational soap opera in 52 episodes. You can download it off the internet and many libraries carry it. It’s relatively entertaining and definitely instructive. Happy studying.


  3. Spanish Intake Form & Welcome Letter

    We have a Spanish intake form that is identical to our English one. Sometimes folks who can speak a bit of English are still more comfortable filling out their Health History Questionnaire in Spanish and since the forms are identical all of us practitioners are picking up lots of new medical/ anatomical terms too.  We also now have a version of our welcome letter in Spanish that I will post in the forum since I don’t think I can do that here.  It’s  a great thing to have since we currently do not have any Spanish speaking receptionists.  

     I think it is actually crucial for as many of us CA clinics to be at least a little Spanish language savvy.  There are migrant workers from Spanish speaking countries all over the US and many of them have no access to health care.  Those folks that are undocumented workers, are in even greater jeopardy, and will often neglect to seek care even when they should for fear of legal consequences.  

     There are large Central and South American communities in the northeast.  I have so many more Spanish speaking patients than before.  There is definitely a cultural bias for natural medicine and many of these folks are happy to take herbs, have had acupuncture before and are so glad that they have found an affordable option.  It is also very clear to see how referrals within this community emerge.  One Dominicana has sent us at least 3 of her sisters, a niece, two friends, and a brother in-law.  She is one of 9 children in her family and if the rest of them didn’t live in NY I’m sure we would have seen them by now.  



  4. good points

    Thanks Cris,

    We’ve been using your intake. The welcome letter is great. However, we got a Spanish translation of AAC’s agreement for arbitration, and that seems to really scare the few people we’ve shown it to. We had a translator fortunately assure the patient that nothing was going to be used “against him”. I think he must have been afraid that we were going to turn him into ICE (Immigrations and Customs Enforcement).




    All true religions seek to gain access to that level of consciousness which is not ego-bound.</

  5. Learning is a fun thing to

    Learning is a fun thing to do as we can acquire new knowledge that we can use in a particular situation. Education can provide us the learning that we need to discover. But it seems now that American education has been in need of some quick loans to spruce up their curricula and help our future generations of workers and leaders to achieve better performance in academic fields and also greater competitive qualities in the workforce.  Obama is now eying an overhaul of the educational system, because our educational system is in need of some work. The idea is to replace the former testing format with higher standards and more stringent curricula.  Let us hope that this is the overhaul that will get the American educational system back on track.