Friday, May 6, 2016
By Carol Porteous
East Village resident Donna Nield is excited to bring something new (and old) to her community. In April, she opened a community acupuncture clinic, City Acupuncture East Village, on the ground floor of an HDFC co-op building at 155 E. Second St. between Avenue A and Avenue B.
Although community acupuncture is new to the East Village, it is an ancient Chinese practice.
“In China, acupuncture is usually conducted in a big group setting where people all receive acupuncture together,” says Nield, who went to China to observe this firsthand while studying at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine (PCOM), where she earned, with honors, a Master of Science degree in Traditional Oriental Medicine.
Since the acupuncturist circulates among patients and can treat several at once, community acupuncture costs less and so is a feasible route to healing for more folks in the community. But the intention reaches much deeper.
“The sense of community that is created by having acupuncture in a room with other people is beneficial for everybody in many ways,” says Nield. “New Yorkers hold onto a lot of stress from living in the city; we really guard ourselves. When you walk into a community acupuncture clinic, you can hear the relaxed breathing. It’s amazing to me that in New York people can be relaxed enough in a room with other people that they can actually fall asleep.”
The clinic’s large treatment room is not completely open. Screens separate patients, who are treated on massage tables and zero gravity reclining chairs.
“It’s not super new-agey. It’s a medical clinic. We take our patients’ health very seriously.” That message comes through in the clinic’s tagline: “Making Acupuncture a Little Less ‘Alternative.’”
Nield has practiced acupuncture in traditional Western medical clinics at NYU Langone and Beth Israel, and in her own private practice. She says her training at PCOM positioned her to straddle the worlds of Chinese and Western medicine.
“We studied a lot of Western medicine so that we can understand people’s conditions and look for red flags, know when a patient needs to be referred to an MD, and be able to have conversations with doctors if we need to.”
Patients have a choice of three acupuncturists at City Acupuncture East Village: Leo Bierman and Carmichael Monaco, who both have degrees from Tri-State College of Acupuncture, and Nield. All are licensed in New York State and certified in clean needle technique.
Nield is partnering with Robbie Benhuri, the founder of the first City Acupuncture, which opened eight years ago and provides some 1,200 treatments a month downtown on Fulton Street. A third City Acupuncture clinic will open in Bed Stuy later this month. According to Nield, “we see the City Acupuncture affiliation as a community for clinic owners. We are pooling our resources so that we don’t have to figure it all out on our own.”
Feeling a connection
Nield has lived in the neighborhood for 20 years, and her new office is a few blocks from her family’s apartment.
“I wouldn’t have imagined doing this anywhere else. I feel really connected to this neighborhood. One of the things I like about it is that even though there are so many sad postings about local businesses closing, and we do see the neighborhood changing, we all really care and work hard to maintain a sense of community," she says. "I feel very inspired by this.
“I will consider the clinic a success when it’s serving the neighborhood and improving people’s lives. That’s what it’s all about, really. We want to deliver what the community needs.”
It is fitting that the official opening of Nield’s clinic is on Mother’s Day, as her interest in community acupuncture was sparked by her mother’s experience in Ottawa, Canada, many years ago.
“My mum was diagnosed with terminal cancer and was referred to an acupuncturist who saw people in a large house. There were beds everywhere," Nield says. "She went to see him every day. It didn’t cure her cancer, but it really helped her handle the pain of the cancer and its treatment. It also gave her a connection to others, kind of a support group in a way; she’d see the same people there every day. So while it was a really sad situation, there was such a positive aspect to it.”
City Acupuncture East Village's opening party is Sunday afternoon from 1-4. Find more details at Facebook.
The office is open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday to Friday, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Appointments can be booked online here.
About the author, Carol Porteous
I’ve been involved in East Village communities of all kinds for the last few decades (public and private schools, the Boys Club, playgrounds, community gardens, East Yoga Center as karmi and curator of the Facebook page, etc.). I met Donna Nield many years ago at East Yoga, and recently got an acupuncture treatment for the first time.
The mission of community acupuncture is to bring an important healing opportunity to the entire community in an affordable way. This taps into my love for community, so I have jumped onboard for the first few months to help get this clinic started and connected.
Posted by Grieve at 6:00 AM