Official Guidelines in Oregon
The COVID-19 pandemic and social-distancing guidelines have created a confusing and shifting landscape of recommendations for elective and non-urgent healthcare. How does this apply to acupuncture treatment?
In Oregon, Governor Brown issued Executive Order 20-10 to cancel all elective and non-urgent health care procedures that require personal protective equipment (PPE) effective March 23, 2020. The order remains in effect at least until June 15. Clarification of the order by the Governor’s office indicates that they do not intend to issue a specific closure order for acupuncture, physical therapy and chiropractic offices.
Generally, the standard of care for acupuncture does not require the use of PPE. Nonetheless, like all healthcare providers, acupuncturists need to make every effort to protect patients, staff and ourselves from COVID-19. That includes:
- imposing social distancing for interactions that do not require close contact
- screening patients for COVID-19 symptoms
- imposing strict infection control and cleaning procedures
- using telehealth whenever possible
- delaying elective and non-urgent procedures
When Should Acupuncture Not Be Delayed?
The OHA guidance recommends delaying elective and non-urgent procedures but leaves room for interpretation. It is up to the individual healthcare provider to judge whether or not a procedure can be delayed, or must be provided to protect a patient’s health and life. A procedure should not be delayed if there is:
- a threat to the patient’s life
- a threat of irreversible harm to a patient’s physical or mental health
- a risk of a rapidly-worsening condition
- a threat of permanent dysfunction to an organ or extremity
Most acupuncture treatment performed at the Inner Works Acupuncture clinic is elective and non-urgent. Upon occasion, however, a patient may have a health crisis treatable with acupuncture, which would otherwise risk having them end up in the emergency room. This might include, for example, acute exacerbation of a chronic pain condition, or a mental health crisis.
The Burden of Deferred Health Maintenance
Many patients rely on Five Element acupuncture for life-long physical and emotional well-being. This includes keeping chronic health issues under control. For example:
- keeping an autoimmune disorder in remission, e.g. rheumatoid arthritis or psoriasis
- keeping chronic pain in remission, e.g. migraine headaches, sciatica
- slowing the process of a degenerative disease, e.g. spinal stenosis or osteoarthritis
- preventing an episode of heart arrhythmia, e.g., atrial fibrillation
- maintaining mental and emotional stability, e.g. anxiety disorder or clinical depression
While most people with chronic health issues can manage without acupuncture for a few weeks, denying access to elective care long-term is bound to take a toll on our health. Needless to say, we are all dealing with the added burden of the necessary but stressful conditions of lockdown and stay-at-home orders. Unfortunately, the longer we delay elective healthcare for non-urgent problems, the more likely they are to become urgent.
Inner Works Acupuncture Policy During the COVID-19 Closure: Telehealth and Urgent Care
Inner Works Acupuncture clinic is currently closed with the following important exceptions:
- in-person urgent care appointments for established clients
- telehealth appointments and consultations
- herbal formula and supplement orders for pick-up or drop-ship
If you are an established client and feel you need an urgent care appointment, please contact us. We can discuss your needs and determine a course of action.
A new option during the COVID-19 closure is telehealth consultation. We can discuss new or ongoing health concerns and recommend ways to help you better manage your health without leaving home. This might include nutritional prescription, exercise routines, lifestyle recommendations, or herbal and nutritional supplements.
Inner Works Acupuncture, PC is a Five Element Acupuncture clinic in northwest Portland, Oregon. For more information on telehealth and urgent care appointments, please call 503-227-2127.