Joined: 10 Feb 2008
Location: Ithaca, NY
|Posted: Mon Feb 25, 2008 8:45 pm Post subject: What is an Herbal/Mixed Modality Free Clinic
|Over the past 3 years I have learned that there are many definitions of 'what is a free clinic'? The clinic I work at-the Ithaca Free Clinic-is a mixed modality free clinic. All of these terms bear dissection. A clinic is a place where folks come in for some kind of health care, this is probably the easiest word to define, though in New York State, there is legal status for this term, our clinic fit the parameters and so use the term.
Next, free. This is a much trickier as all clinics need funding from somewhere. We rely on grants and our seed money comes from our umbrella organization, the Ithaca Health Fund (an interesting community story itself). We never charge our patients, this is in comparison to a low-cost clinic where patients pay what they can. Donations are accepted.
A quick description of my functions at the clinic seems a good idea here, to better understand my place there. I began early, a year or so before our doors opened, so I have learned a lot of the setting-up process, legalities, finances, organization, etc. At this point (back then there were multiple meetings per week) I am glad to have been a part. It has allowed me a deeper understanding of how one clinic began and continues to run. This information is helpful when assisting others in opening clinics
I digress (a common occurrence with me). I am now the Director of Holistic Medicine, which means that I observe and help organize the holistic practitioners. That currently includes herbalist (1), Acupuncturists (2), Chiropractors (2), and the occasional Reiki practitioner. In the past we have also had Massage therapists, and hope to again soon (it is a matter of time and space). I have recently written up my job description, I can pin that up if folks are interested in seeing it.
I also practice as a Western Clinical Herbalist there. That is, I see patients, weekly when my school is not in session, bi-weekly when it is.
I am still on the Operations committee, which has shrunk considerably since the old days, I miss dearly my former clinic comrades.
Back to terms. Mixed modality is how I describe the clinic. We have conventional doctors (I don’t use the word allopathic, it is pejorative and also not widely understood) along with nurses, and occasional nurse practitioners. And we have the holistic practitioners. Many of the doctors don’t trust herbal medicine (it’s not just me, I have a good relationship with most of them), and so I don’t say integrative clinic, because we work in the same building but don’t share clients. Yet. It seems like given time, this could change.
We are open 2 days a week, 4 hours a day. Most of the folks come in to see the doctors, but the holistic practitioners are often filled with appointments.
This is a quick explanation of our clinic. I attended the National Free Clinics Summit this October and learned a lot about how other clinics operate. One thing that became obvious, is how few use any form of non-conventional medicine. The Common Ground Health Clinic in New Orleans (2 of my former apprentices are practitioners there) is another clinic with doctors and herbalists.
I am the only practitioner without a license at our clinic, all the others, massage therapists, etc, have one. Personally (and in a big way) I am against licensing for herbalists, which is another big discussion. But this fact was taken into account early on, and it made things tricky for a while. But we explored our legal liabilities, and in the (current) end the clinic board was glad to have herbalists on staff. This is partially due to our umbrella organization, which in itself strives to make changes to the how health care is practiced.
I would be glad to answer other questions folks may have
In praise of free clinics, 7Song
Director, Northeast School of Botanical Medicine
Director of Holistic Medicine-Ithaca Free Clinic
P.O. Box 6626 Ithaca, NY 14850