OB clinic isn’t one to needle your pocketbook
by HILLARY SCHULER-JONES
Jun 16, 2010 | 7393 views | 0 0 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Patients at Beach Community Acupuncture are treated in an open setting rather than private rooms. COURTESY PHOTO
Patients at Beach Community Acupuncture are treated in an open setting rather than private rooms. COURTESY PHOTO
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Some people fear needles, but for Nicole Murray, owner of Beach Community Acupuncture (BCA) in Ocean Beach, needles represent healing and relaxation.

Murray opened the low-cost community clinic in May 2009 with the goal of making acupuncture accessible to more people — and business is booming. In her first week, she performed 15 treatments. Now, one year later, she has added three staff members and the clinic handles more than 400 sessions per month.

Treatments cost $20 each, compared to as much as $150 per session at high-end spas, Murray said.

Cost isn’t the only difference between the community clinic concept and other facilities, though. At BCA, all sessions are performed in one large room, with several patients treated at once in an open environment, rather than private areas. Murray said the open setting allows the clinic to not only keep costs down and treat more patients throughout the day, but also give patients a different atmosphere for healing.

“A lot of people find it comforting to be treated in an open space,” Murray said. “There are some people who say that they feel the energy of the room is conducive to relaxation and healing … It’s not only social, but it is sort of that feeling of connectedness — I think people like that.”

Murray graduated from Pacific College of Oriental Medicine in 2008 with a master’s degree in Chinese medicine. She interned at several community-based acupuncture sites, including a children’s hospital and the University of California, San Diego’s (UCSD) Rimac Center for athletes, before opening her own facility.

One of the clinic’s patients, Elysa Everson, credits Murray’s healing power for reversing a life-threatening gastrointestinal condition that had left her nearly hopeless.

The 27-year-old USCD biology master’s student was diagnosed last year with small bowel volvulus, a rare disorder that caused her intestines to twist. By the time doctors discovered the problem, some of Everson’s intestines had gone gangrene, and she needed two emergency surgeries to remove the affected areas.

She was facing excruciating pain in her abdomen, a laundry list of stomach ailments and the threat of a third emergency surgery when she discovered Murray’s services last November.

“I had a lot of trouble, including short-bowel sydrome, leaky-gut syndrome, IBS, you name it, every intestinal problem you could have, I had, and I had a really hard time absorbing nutrients … my prognosis was really poor,” Everson said. “Someone recommended acupuncture and I was so desperate — I mean, I’m a scientist, so I was sort of skeptical … I didn’t understand how acupuncture worked.”

Everson said that her opinion changed after her first treatment with Murray, when her chemistry levels started to normalize and she gained weight, indicating that her body was retaining some nutritients. She began visiting Murray four times a week and her condition vastly improved.

“All my medical doctors — and I have some of the best gastrointestinal doctors in San Diego — were just completely shocked, and I give the credit to her [Murray]. I mean, I think she pretty much saved my life,” Everson said. “[Doctors] told me that I’d never be able to travel again, that I always needed to be within 30 minutes of a hospital. Now my doctor says its OK for me to go to Europe for the summer.”

Although Everson sought help for an extreme disorder, the majority of the clinic’s patients come in for more generalized problems, including anxiety, pain, insomnia and allergies, Murray said.

Beach Community Acupuncture is open Mondays through Saturdays. For clinic hours or added information, visit www.beachacu.com.

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