Friday, August 14, 2020
A visit to East Village Acupuncture & Massage
Text and photos by Stacie Joy
As part of our ongoing look at personal-care service spots reopening under Phase 3 of the PAUSE order, I’m meeting longtime East Village resident Donna Nield, L.Ac., MSTOM, owner of East Village Acupuncture & Massage, located at 155 E. Second St. between Avenue A and Avenue B. (This location opened in the spring of 2016.)
She and two of her afternoon’s clients, Susan Bing and her daughter, Magnolia “Maggie” Bing-Edwards, have agreed to allow me to observe and photograph a session, and to ask questions, which I do, after the acupuncture treatment is over.
Strict COVID-19-related guidelines are observed. There's a forehead-scan temperature check at the door and COVID waivers to sign as well as antibacterial sanitizers and hand-washing instructions — all the while HEPA air filters are continuously running.
There's mandatory mask wearing for everyone — the only exception being when Donna briefly checked the tongue (a common Eastern medicine diagnostic tool) of Maggie.
I witness and learn about health and wellness through acupuncture, cupping, electric stimulation and herbal oil treatments, and ask about what is has taken to reopen the studio.
Acupuncture is considered an essential service, so were you at any point closed for COVID-19 PAUSE orders?
Yes, we closed our clinic on March 16 just before the PAUSE orders — we saw it coming and wanted to be safe. It was a few months into the shutdown that acupuncture was deemed an essential service in NY State. We opened back up again on June 15.
Were there any ownership or staff worries or concerns about treating clients during a global pandemic?
I made sure that I was well informed and got the proper training and supplies before re-opening. I attended webinars that were organized by the NCCAOM (The National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine). They gave us excellent guidance on how to keep our patients and staff safe.
We reorganized the clinic with fewer massage tables with more space and wider curtains separating them. We have always had HEPA air filters and hospital-grade cleaner, and now require everyone to wear a mask at all times in the clinic. We feel very confident that we are able to keep everyone safe.
What has the reaction been from regulars — and potential new clients — about receiving treatment?
I imagine that there may be some patients who are still not comfortable coming to the clinic — or anywhere for that matter. The patients who are coming in — both new and returning — seem very relaxed and have a lot of confidence in us.
We have posted all of our safety protocols on our website. Many patients tell us that our clinic was the first place they had been since the quarantine began, they seem very happy that we are open again and I am so grateful for their trust in us.
I watched you do some cupping, electric stimulation, and herbal/oil treatments on patients during my visit, what other treatments do you/can you provide to clients?
Our regular acupuncture sessions consist of an intake and treatment with acupuncture needles. If patients want something extra, they book an extended session, which allows for more time to add the modalities that you listed above. We also do trigger point and motor point sessions, which are orthopedic treatments.
You mentioned that you are currently offering acupuncture but not massage. What needs to happen for you to feel comfortable offering that medical service? Are there any other services that you have suspended?
At the moment we are using all the space that we have — including our massage room — to distance our acupuncture patients from each other.
Massage involves a lot of one-on-one contact, and some of our massage therapists were not comfortable. I agreed with them that it was better to err on the side of caution — I am not sure if we will need to find a larger space, or maybe we will wait for the vaccine before we bring back massage. Many patients who were partial to massage have begun to try acupuncture and cupping to help with muscle tightness.
We have also suspended facial rejuvenation acupuncture treatments. Facial rejuvenation is a cosmetic treatment that targets the muscles of the face, it requires more time to needle and also involves a facial massage. Our staff decided together that it was best to hold off on this and focus on our patients who are coming in for medical rather than cosmetic concerns.
What’s next for East Village Acupuncture & Massage; what are your plans moving forward?
Like most small business owners, we are just trying to keep the business going. We are very fortunate to have understanding landlords, an extremely dedicated staff, and a really diverse and committed community that depends on us. I think it will be a long time before we get our clinic back to where it was in early March but we are flexible, creative, and committed. We are confident that we will get there.
You can keep up with Donna and the team at East Village Acupuncture & Massage on Instagram. They also have remote resources available via a new You Tube channel.