With one film, Frederick acupuncturist Jessica Feltz and thousands of her peers nationwide hope to spark a revolution.
"One needle, one person, one community at a time ... we are working to make a world of difference," Feltz, 38, said in a recent phone interview.
Feltz, a licensed community acupuncturist, was part of the team that produced "Community Acupuncture: The Calmest Revolution Ever Staged," a 35-minute documentary released online and on DVD this fall. Feltz said in the film she and her peers were looking to tell the story of this type of treatment from the patient perspective.
"We wanted to share the story of how lowering barriers, like price, can impact lives and change communities," she said. "Acupuncture is one of the broadest spectrum modalities that we have at our disposal with the least amount of side effects -- and there's a large portion of the population excluded from treatment (due to price)."
The community acupuncture model focuses on providing low-cost, high-volume treatments, meaning that by treating about 10 patients all at once, Feltz and other community acupuncturists can drop their price to a sliding scale of about $15 to $50 a session as opposed to double that.
Feltz owns The Turning Point Community Acupuncture Clinic, where she simultaneously treats multiple patients who all sit in personal recliners in a large room. She spends a few minutes prepping and treating each patient, who then rest for about an hour or so with the needles in.
"A lot of people will come in on rainy days, or when they want to hang out some place other than a bar or a park," Feltz said. "They'll just come in and hang out at the clinic for an hour or so ... or friends and family will come in together. It's pretty cool."
Community acupuncturists across the country have hosted recent screenings of the film, Feltz said. She will host a screening in Frederick at MDL Holiday Cinemas at 6 p.m. Monday, Jan. 30. The showing will be the fourth in the country, Feltz said, as the film has been shown thus far at venues in New Mexico, Oregon and New Hampshire.
Feltz co-produced the documentary, created by Portland, Ore., filmmaker Brian Lindstrom. Lindstrom is best known for filming the documentary "Finding Normal," the feature-length film that follows longtime addicts from Portland's Hooper Detox as they try to rebuild their lives with help from Recovery Mentors, according to his website. "Finding Normal" won several awards, including best local production at Willamette Week's Longbaugh Film Festival in Portland, it said.
Turning to Frederick
Feltz moved to Frederick from the Midwest in the summer of 2007 and opened The Turning Point that November, she said.
She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology and social welfare from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, and then worked in the corporate world as the administrator of a skilled nursing facility. Here, she was exposed to information about alternative therapies and holistic medicine, which the facility was exploring in its Alzheimer's section, she said. This is where she became interested in other avenues of health care, she added.
Feltz then enrolled in the Midwest College of Oriental Medicine in Racine, Wis., in 2002, from which she obtained her Master of Science degree in oriental medicine in 2007. While in school, she read an article about the success of Working Class Acupuncture in Portland, Ore., the first community acupuncture clinic in the country that also developed the community treatment model.
"After reading that article, I knew I wanted to set up a clinic just like that," Feltz said.
Feltz became involved with the film after becoming active in the community acupuncture network, and Internet-based organization created by the founders of Working Class Acupuncture in Portland. The goal of the organization was to share ideas about how to re-create the community acupuncture model being used at their clinic on a massive scale, Feltz said.
"I devoured everything I could," she said of the information shared on the network.
Feltz was invited to join the board of directors for the organization in October 2009, and became president of the board in 2010. Before she took over as president, the organization had already begun filming the documentary, she said. Throughout her term, she helped Lindstrom with many aspects of the film, including the filming of the final segment, fundraising and editing, she added.
From beginning to end, it took between 12 and 15 months to put together, Feltz said. The final segment of the documentary was filmed at the community acupuncture organization's first-ever national conference in spring 2011 that Feltz organized as president. It features interviews with both the founders of the Community Acupuncture Network and patients talking about their experiences with this specific kind of treatment.
"For half a decade, we had all been Internet friends, but had never all come together in one place," she said. At the conference, acupuncturists from across the country gathered to discuss things such as how to create more clinics, the problem of finding practitioners to fill clinics, etc., she said.
The conference was also the birth of the People's Organization of Community Acupuncture, the professional organization for those that practice this type of healing, also known as POCA, Feltz said.
"We're not presenting it from a position of authority. ... We want this type of treatment to become a readily available resource, a common, everyday thing. And bringing it into film culture is an easy, non-threatening way to do that."