Moments from Our Latest Free-Day and the Changing Demographics of Who Gets Acupuncture

We started at 8:30a.m. for all of those weekend early birds.

Our first little rush of patients were 4 big guys, with crewcuts, three of them in their 20’s one in his 40’s or 50’s.They came as a group that we later discovered were planning to spend a lot of time together over the next few weeks since one of them would soon be leaving bachelorhood.Yes we treated our first bachelor party!We’re not sure where they were off to next…


I have noticed a lot more men coming in to be treated in the community acupuncture setting.I notice the moments when there are 3 to 5 men all getting treatments at the same time.  “Men napping together in acupuncture clinics”— a rarity or the norm?


Almost half of the 60+ treatments we gave were to people who had never been to PCA before.Many of them came because someone they know already comes for treatments.Most of the newcomers came with a friend or relative.Community acupuncture is undeniably fueled by our patient referrals, and people’s willingness to try acupuncture seems to be increased when they can come with a friend or relative.


“Who comes for acupuncture” is often thought of in terms of age, gender, income and education levels.But “who comes for community acupuncture” is redefining the demographics to include “daughter of, son of, friend of, spouse of” another patient or to include a connection to the “connector” type of person that Malcolm Gladwell talks about in The Tipping Point.Our clinic has a handful of these people who know a lot of people, and are good at convincing the people they know to come in for treatment.This defines the demographic of “known by Kathy B, or Jen R, or George L.” Who are your connectors?


Some patients find out about us from their doctors, their chiropractors, their physical therapist, or their therapist.It is impossible for us to know how these practitioners know about us.Maybe from their patients?Other people hear about us from their hairdresser, their music or yoga teacher.The CAN network is another great source of referrals, and it makes us all feel so good that we can send our patients, and loved ones, to clinics in other places.I wonder how many degrees of separation there are between patients of CAN clinics?A new demographic of acupuncture patients is emerging: “people who learn about acupuncture from other people.”This is an infinitely more effectiveway to reach new patientsover glossy tri-fold pamphlets, and public speaking engagements about yin yang theory.


Our neighbors in the building decided to offer free treatments on the same day after we invited them to our event .I had mixed feelings abouthaving the cranio-sacral therapist and massage therapist tagging their free treatments on to our eventbut the feeling of solidarity from these other practitioners is genuine.There are four other acupuncturist offices in the building we occupy, but we have very little contact the other acupuncturists. More than ever, PCAhas been seeing patients that “used to see someone else for acupuncture, but can’t afford to anymore.”Rather than this emerging demographic– “used to be BA/PRA patient” –creating more division, my hope is that we will begin to see more acupuncturists recognizing the need for their services to be affordable and more collaboration to this end.Eventually another patient demographic can emerge “those who pressure their BA/PRA practitioners to consider CA.”


It rained all day, a misty kind of drizzle, but thankfully with warm temperatures.Karlo, our office mate, set up a massage chair outside to do chair shiatsu treatments and to distribute his newly printed guide to low-cost, $35 or less, alternative treatments.(Thanks Karlo!)Astrid, his 4-year-old daughter remained nearby with her party dress and red-sparkle shoes, twirling in circles in the parking lot.Later Astrid and her 1-year-old brother Leif sat in my lap in a recliner while I received my free treatment.New demographic:“treated with babes in arms” is so much more possible in a CA setting.We have a few patients who have broughttheir babies in with them, even when the babes fuss there is a collective holding of the babes.


All of the food was brought/made by PCA’s workers and patiens, several patients volunteered to help out, and a couple showed up to play live music; new demographic “patients who make food andsing for treatment.”We gifted all of our volunteers with afree-treatment card.


Overall there is a sense that this clinic belongs to all of us (workers and patients), and that getting the word out, showing up for the open house, helping two of our acupuncturists find an apartment, or helping us look for a replacement tenant so we can break our lease at our current location and move, are shared and common interests.The 6 hour free day was fun, people fell asleep, and we all felt rather energized and only a little tired at the end.Around here it doesn’t feel like anything hinges on a single person.It feels like company.


A high point of the party was when Ellen, one of our front desk people, along with Menia and Jen from her Greek singing group were performing.The office was brimming with at least 25 people sitting with needles in.Some appeared to be sleeping, others sitting quietly in the extra folding chairs we set up.Several people without needles milled about, waiting for an empty chair, snacking, or quietly conversing.I felt a surge of something; let’s call it group qi, which seemed to lift the entire office, and all of the folks within.It felt like we were in a pod, bouncing blissfully through space with Greek syllables, sung in harmony, hanging all around us.




Author: crismonteiro

I've always thought that I would live to be 100 years old and now that I have an actual idea of what it might be like to inhabit this body for a century I want to be damn sure that Community Acupuncture is around to help me through my days and in the end, on my way. In the meantime, I am passionate about getting shit done, and also having fun.

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  1. .

    this is awesome cris. it reminds me of visiting the tucson clinic and sitting in the waiting room as ALL kinds of people filed in and out. I got hit with a burst of excitement that also reminded me, why should it ever be any other way?