Though a practitioner of Western medicine, Church Health Center (CHC) CEO Dr. Scott Morris turned to alternative therapy to deal with chronic knee pain.
After several treatments from local acupuncturist Dr. Judi Harrick, Morris said his knee pain went away — at least for a while, until he eventually had to get a knee replacement. But now, through a soon-to-open community acupuncture clinic at Church Health Center Wellness, Harrick and Morris are making the acupuncture alternative available to Memphians who might not be able to afford the therapy otherwise.
"Unfortunately, in America, we've come to believe too much that drugs will solve our health problems, and we've become overly enamored around issues of technology," Morris said. "We believe our bodies are little machines and there is some technology that can fix them. And that's just not right."
The community acupuncture clinic will treat all sorts of conditions, from pain to anxiety to allergies to digestion issues. It begins September 19th, but the CHC is already taking appointments. The clinic will be open to everyone (not just CHC patients), and fees will be based on a sliding scale from $15 to $40. There's an extra $10 fee on the first visit.
"Our mission is to provide the best possible care and make it available to everyone. There's no need to prove your income. It's all on honor," Harrick said.
Harrick has been in private practice in Memphis for more than 25 years, but the community clinic will operate a little differently than an appointment in her office would.
"Community acupuncture is done in a group setting in big, comfortable chairs. You get the dynamic of the group energy while getting individual treatment. No one undresses. We use points from the knee and elbow down," Harrick says. "We ask people to wear loose clothing, so they can sit comfortably."
The clinic will treat six patients at a time, and treatment can last anywhere between 20 minutes and an hour "depending on what we're working on and the person's energy," Harrick says.
As for how it works, Harrick explains that acupuncture is energy medicine, and the points on the body where the needles are placed are reservoirs of energy, or chi. Each point is believed to have a certain effect when it's stimulated.
"If you have symptoms, that is seen as an imbalance. And when we stimulate that innate energy, it stimulates it to move. That's the nice thing about energy. It always wants to go toward balance," Harrick said. "Energy can get stuck or deficient, and this brings it back to balance."
Acupuncture has been practiced as a part of Oriental medicine for centuries, and some modern medical studies have shown that it can be effective for a number of conditions. Morris doesn't purport to understand how all that energy stuff works, but he said experience made him a believer.
"I find acupuncture fascinating, but it eludes me in terms of the theory, as I think it does for most allopathic doctors," Morris said. "But I can tell you that I would go in, and Judi would perform the [acupuncture] treatment. And when I walked out, I had no pain. I walked in with a healthy skepticism, but at least for awhile, my knee didn't hurt, and that was consistent for every treatment."
To make an appointment for the community acupuncture clinic, call 259-4673. The clinic will be open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3 to 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., beginning September 19th.