The Three Levels of Care at Ballard and Fremont Neighborhood Acupuncture
by Christopher Huson, M.Ac., L.Ac., EAMP
My overarching goal is to relieve my patients’ suffering. I do this by helping my patients return to life refreshed, pain-free, and malaise-free: in the current moment, in the immediate future, and in the long term.
There are three levels of care that my patients experience or want. In the first level, my patients ask me to “please make the problem go away now;” in the second level, they ask me to “please make the problem (that has mostly gone away) to stop coming back;” and in the third level, they ask “please help me figure out why the problem happened in the first place and show me how to prevent its recurrence.”
The first level of care, acute care, takes place in the first 3 or 4 visits. I focus my efforts on the main complaint. The main complaint is usually an acute problem that needs alleviation “right now”. It involves higher frequency of patient contact (1 visit every two or three days), and my patients then have the responsibility of “making it to the appointments,” taking custom formula Chinese herbal medicine at home, possibly doing stretching and light exercises, and of course, seeking help from other healthcare professionals to whom they may have been referred.
In the next level of care, my patients need to come in less frequently, 1 visit every 4 to seven days, and the patient takes over responsibility for making some changes to their behavior that might positively impact their condition eg: adopting an exercise program, changing their diet (food is medicine!), changing their behavior (early to bed, early to rise…).
In the third level of care my patients needs to examine how they came to be in the current situation and to puzzle out what long-term changes they can make that would prevent a recurrence of the main complaint. For this level of care my patients usually needs to come in once every two or three weeks to check in and receive guidance by treatment and behavioral recommendation to help them consolidate and improve upon positive changes that have already taken place.
Often patients find that they get continued benefit from long-term (3 to 6 months) care. This involves taking custom Chinese herbal medicine (“That stuff tastes better and better!”) formulations, Chinese dietary therapy (“I love my rice congee with ginger and green onions!”), and appropriate lifestyle changes (“I joined a gym and exercise 3X a week!”). Some longtime patients find that they like to come in once a week to help with stress management, some come in once a month, and some patients make regular appointments (3-5X a year) to help them stay “in tune” with the changing of the seasons.