What is a Multi-Bed Clinic?
We believe in alternative medicine being accessible for everyone. Acupuncture, as well as other holistic treatments, take some time to heal the body and are a process. It is vital that every patient can afford to have a treatment frequently enough, and for a long enough period of time, in order to get better.
Some people can afford treatments as and when they need them; plenty of people can afford to pay it once in a while; but the vast majority find it hard or impossible to pay for regular treatment. regularly. If a patient has to stop treatment prematurely, their condition may get worse. So, if one-to-one acupuncture is only affordable for some people, is there a way to provide acupuncture that is affordable for more people in our community? The answer is yes: “multi-bed” or “community” acupuncture clinics.
How long have multi-bed clinics been around?
In the East patients have always been treated together (well, ‘ordinary’ patients. We can assume that the Emperor and his family and high-ranking officials would have been treated privately). In China, a doctor is recognised for his or her ability to treat a high number of patients efficiently and effectively. A doctor would be laughed out of the hospital if he could only treat 8 patients a day! It is simply impossible to treat 100–200 patients a day staying with each patient in their own private room. So community-style clinics appeared early on out of necessity.
How do multi-bed acupuncture clinics work?
By treating several people in a large room together (hence “multi-bed” clinic), rent overheads are vastly reduced. Acupuncture needles usually take between 20–45 minutes to do their work, which means that a practitioner can place needles in one patient, leave them to relax, and then move on to another patient. By treating more than one patient each hour, a practitioner can reduce the price of each treatment, but still earn a good hourly rate. Its a win/win for everyone! Acupuncturists, of all complementary therapists, are uniquely able to offer this service. We have a great opportunity to offer high quality treatment to everyone, including people on lower incomes.
How will patients benefit from being treated in a multi-bed clinic?
There are two major benefits to being treated in a multi-bed clinic: affordable treatment and the energetic field that occurs when several people are treated together. Affordable acupuncture is very important because patients are able to access treatments frequently enough and for long enough, so they can get better and stay better. In China, a course of treatment will often involve the patient being treated every day or every other day, for 10 treatments; another course of treatment will then be started if necessary. This is almost unheard of in the West. As practitioners we know how important it is for our patients to have treatment at the correct frequency and for the correct duration.
A beautiful energy is felt in these clinics, that promote healing together as a community. An amazing community spirit emerges and patients consistently report the sense of togetherness and humanity they find within the clinic. For some isolated patients, visiting a multi-bed clinic has an enjoyable and important social aspect to it. This challenges the idea that illness is something that will isolate or exclude people. Furthermore, patients with similar conditions may start to ‘network’ and support each other.
Are there drawbacks to multi-bed clinics from a patient’s perspective?
We offer treatment at reduced cost by treating several patients together at the same time. Obviously this comes at the cost of some reduction in privacy. Informed consent it very important. Patients will be advised on the workings of a multi-bed clinic before they start their treatment. If they can anticipate the limits to privacy, the whole experience is more likely to flow smoothly.