As so many have said before us, we are living in unprecedented times. COVID-19 is ravaging so many communities, disproportionately impacting the most marginalized among us. Many POCA clinics are closed right now, some remain open. We are living in a global pandemic during a time of extreme inequality and a system that continues to prioritize the profit of the few over the health and wellbeing of the many: this affects all of us and some of us are feeling it more than ever. We know the difficult decisions our clinics are making about whether to be open or closed right now are rooted in the dilemmas that capitalism creates for us, the lack of social safety nets, and the terror we all have about supporting ourselves and our families during this new normal.
We want to acknowledge the differential impact this crisis is having on marginalized communities, especially Black, Indigenous and People Of Color communities, houseless folks, people locked up in prisons, jails, and detention centers, people facing violence in their homes, frontline workers who are already underpaid, underprotected, undervalued (i.e. janitors, grocery store workers, postal workers, warehouse workers, nursing home workers, etc). The disparity and oppression we see right now has been going on for centuries but is spotlighted in grim detail in this moment.
As POCA, we are committed to showing up for our membership during this difficult time and building on the connections and groundwork we have built over many years together. We can’t know what the future will bring, but we are committed to meeting this moment with as much cooperation and solidarity as possible. We struggled with what to say when it feels like the world changes every few minutes, but we know that what will remain true is that the way we will get through this is together.
To our patients: we know that many of you are struggling with lack of access to acupuncture right now. We wish we could be in the clinic offering you treatments and are sending you solidarity and support in whatever struggles you are facing right now.
What we are doing to support our membership:
- We are able to offer a deferment of membership dues to anyone whose membership is due before September 1st. Please contact Carmen at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a payment arrangement.
- We are hosting biweekly POCA live zoom calls on a variety of different topics, as well as a weekly meet-up for building community. Learn more about past and upcoming POCA/live events here.
- We moderate a very active facebook group that is open to all POCA members for mutual support, strategizing about what we need to have in place to reopen our clinics safely, how to access the available small business loans, how to negotiate with landlords, etc. POCA Chat on Facebook and also on Facebook – People’s Organization of Community Acupuncture. As always the POCA Forums are available for discussions. POCA Forums
- Many POCA punks have created free DIY acupressure and other at-home care resources. Check them out here.
We agree with the ASA’s statement that determinations about what healthcare workers and healthcare services are deemed essential is not about worth, but about patient safety. We also think that all available Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) should be available for those on the frontlines of this epidemic. While we imagine that when many of us do re-open we will need PPE available for staff and patients, the current state of global demand and supply chain issues means that many actively treating COVID patients or working in nursing homes facing outbreaks don’t have adequate PPE to be safe. We are not sure how this issue will be resolved in a way that enables more of us to return to work, but it is one key factor that many of our clinics are keeping an eye on.
Community acupuncture will be such a valuable service for collectively processing the grief, fear, trauma from this time, helping folks recover from respiratory infections, getting folks back on track to managing their symptoms after a long time away from treatment AND we know that we won’t be able to operate in the same ways when we first re-open. Many of us are starting to envision and develop best practices for disinfection, seeing fewer patients per hour, and pre-screening everyone who walks through our doors while trying to maintain financial viability as businesses. We do know that our coop and our clinics will be an important part of how our communities recover, adapt, and grow more resilient in the face of so much uncertainty. We hope the connections and support that we’ve been showing each other through this really hard time remain as things continue to evolve.
So many in the POCAverse are showing up for our communities right now in myriad different ways: from participating in mutual aid efforts to checking in on each other, to providing affordable telehealthcare, to sharing knowledge and information as it becomes available. We hope that this time of isolation brings a renewed appreciation of the power of community and working together.
We are here for each other, we continue to be here for each other– let’s get through this together.
The POCA General Circle (Shelby, Carmen, Michael, Rachel, Wade, Andy, Cris, Steve, Whitney, Caroline, Shanell, Ellen, and Olive)