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A Sticky Situation: Denver acupuncture business expands

Licensed acupuncturists Abe Rummage and Jim Westmoreland in their practice in Denver.

Licensed acupuncturists Abe Rummage and Jim Westmoreland in their practice in Denver.

Staff Writer

A Denver-based acupuncture clinic is celebrating its new location and expanding services. On July 10, AcuCare Clinic and its neighboring businesses will hold an open house, allowing community members an insight into healing practices such as acupuncture, massage therapy, counseling and Tai Chi.
Almost three times as large as their former clinic, their new 2,700 square-foot facility features six treatment rooms, a massage therapy treatment room, a counseling room and a Tai Chi room.
Abe Rummage, owner of AcuCare Clinic, runs the facility as a licensed practitioner in acupuncture, Chinese medicine and therapeutic massage. He opened his first Denver clinic in 2008, a facility located less than a mile down the road. Within the past year, however, Rummage had found his practice had outgrown its facility.
“We’ve been waiting for the right place to relocate to,” he said. “We had driven by this building for at least a year and thought, ‘This would be a really great location,’ but we had to it to come open and for our lease to come up, and fortunately, they coordinated well.”
Now the owner of a substantially larger facility, Rummage invited Massage and Bodywork therapist Karen Murdock after finding that they were referring several of the same patients to each other. He has found that it is a lot easier to refer patients when the referral business is housed in the same building.
A Georgia native, Rummage graduated with a degree in biology from the University of Georgia. From there, he began a career in the culinary arts. It was not until 1999, when Rummage moved to North Carolina, that he became active in the martial arts community, studying Tai Chi and Kung Fu.
“When I was first introduced to Chinese medicine, we learned ways to fix things like bumps and bruises,” he said. “The philosophies within martial arts, Chinese medicine and acupuncture are all very similar — they all kind of share a lot of the same fundamentals…I like the idea of helping people and learning about disease and illness from a different perspective, outside of the western medicine practices that I grew up with.”
With that in mind, he decided to pursue a graduate degree at the Jung Tao School of Classical Chinese Medicine.
“For me, it’s a really good combination of having an intellectual challenge to it — to be able to make a correct diagnosis and come up with a treatment for it — not only is it challenging for me, but I enjoy seeing people who come in hurting and when they leave, they’re not,” Rummage said.
For first-time patients, a typical appointment lasts approximately two hours, with the first hour allotted for diagnosis and educating the patient on the appropriate course of treatment.
According to Rummage, acupuncture is founded on the philosophy that Qi, or vital energy, flows throughout the body. The Qi helps to animate the body, protecting it from illness, pain and disease. Therefore, a person’s health is influenced by the quality, quantity or balance of Qi.
“Our bodies are covered in energy channels,” he explained. “And there are points along the channels where you can manipulate the energy. You can stimulate it with pressure, heat or a fine needle.”
Stimulation is need when the Qi is obstructed, backing up the flow in one area and restricting it to others. By inserting fine, sterile needles into the points along the channels, acupuncturists are able to restore balance to the patient’s Qi, promoted natural healing in regard to both physical and emotional wellbeing.
“The number of needles varies depending on the patient and their diagnosis, but I generally vary between using eight to 14 needles,” Rummage said.
Patients have the option to undergo treatment lying down on a table or reclining in a plush armchair. Regardless of the relaxing environment, Rummage said there are still first-time patients who are hesitant about acupuncture.
“I’ll see hesitation from about 20 percent of my clients, and fewer have what I call ‘needle phobia,’” he said. “In our culture, the only association we have with needles is really injections and giving blood, both of which can be uncomfortable.”
Nevertheless, Rummage stressed the importance of informing the patient that they are in control of their own treatment.
“Once they see that it’s a relaxing experience, there’s not any trouble after that,” he said.
AcuCare Clinic patient Melissa Mehrlich can attest to the benefits of acupuncture. For her first appointment, she visited with acupuncturist Jim Westomoreland. A stepfather to Rummage, Westomoreland has worked in the fields of acupuncture and Chinese medicine over the past four decades, and is considered a pioneer of the field.
“I had read a lot about different holistic treatments for chronic pain, outside of the realm of just taking pills,” she said.
Over the past decade, Mehrlich has suffered from chronic shoulder and neck pain from a past injury. In addition, she frequently deals with periods of insomnia.
“My first treatment was last Saturday, and it worked almost immediately,” she said. “It wasn’t painful, and immediately afterward, was able to move my shoulder more than I’ve ever been able to in the past 10 years.”
Mehrlich hopes that with the continuing acupuncture session, she will be able to ultimately focus more on overall wellness and less on pain management treatment.
“He not only worked on the treatment, but he listened to all of my concerns, all of my complaints and took a lot of time to educate me on some of the differences between his practice and the theory of acupuncture compared to the more traditional Western medicine,” she said.
In addition to their new facility, AcuCare Clinic has also lowered treatment costs to a more affordable price. While hour-long acupuncture appointments in North Carolina generally range between $80-150, Rummage’s clinic has lowered returning appointment visits from $70 to $50 a session. The initial session, however, remains at $70, due to the additional time needed to properly diagnose and educate the patient on the proposed course of treatment.
“No one comes close to our cost in this area,” Rummage said. “We like to treat really frequently in the beginning, having the patient come two to three times a week, so after a few weeks, the issue is either resolved or close to it, so they can be done (with treatment).”
According to Rummage, this treatment schedule is more aligned with acupuncture facilities in Asia, where the patient is seen multiple times a week, if not daily. In the United States, however, the approach is generally longer in duration, with patients visit the facility once a week for treatment.
“We want to relieve suffering and reach as many people as possible,” Rummage said. “Some insurances won’t cover acupuncture treatments, so we lowered our prices so they’re closer to a co-pay.”
The open house will be held from 3-8 p.m. at the AcuCare Clinic facility, 388 N. Highway 16 in Denver. Guests will be able to tour the facility and observe yoga and tai chi demonstrations.

Image courtesy of Jaclyn Anthony / Lincoln Times-News

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