Contact: Beth Howlett, MAcOM, LAc, Vice President of Communications and Academic Services, 
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March 26, 2018

A chance conversation with a wheelchair-bound patient led to OCOM’s recent acquisition of new adjustable treatment tables in its clinics, offering patients with severe health issues and mobility challenges improved access to acupuncture and Chinese medicine treatments. The college’s student interns now have treatment tables that can be adjusted for treatments specific to movement-challenged patients, as well as the convenience of the practitioner.

Last October, the Firstenburg Foundation​ gave OCOM $15,931 to purchase 10 ADA-compliant, electronically-adjustable treatment tables. EarthLite​, the table manufacturer, agreed to discount the cost of the tables by more than 40 percent. Over the December class break, OCOM’s clinic and facility staff cleared out the old stationary treatment tables and installed seven of the new tables in the Old Town Chinatown campus clinic and three in the OCOM Hollywood Clinic in northeast Portland. When student interns and patients returned in January, they found over half of OCOM’s treatment tables had been upgraded to ADA-compliant, electronically-adjustable tables.

In that initial conversation with the patient, she had reported that acupuncture and Chinese medicine treatments helped her manage her pain and other serious health issues, but that it was challenging for her to get those treatments. With a limited income, she relied on OCOM’s clinics for low-cost care. However, the clinics’ lack of fully adjustable ADA-compliant treatment tables was problematic. She described the effort required to move her from her wheelchair to a disassembled treatment table at floor level. Student interns providing her with care had to do so while on their knees. She said she often felt embarrassed by this elaborate, troublesome process.

This patient’s particular story helped the college recognize a need in its own facilities and was the impetus for OCOM to confer both with patients with serious mobility challenges and student interns to identify how to better accommodate everyone’s treatment needs.

The “Enhanced Access” project’s goals are to provide patients with severe health issues and mobility or movement challenges with improved access to acupuncture treatments by providing the equipment needed for patients to transfer themselves onto treatment tables and receive needed care, as well as enhancing the hands-on educational experience of OCOM student interns.

While this acquisition’s resulting benefits include OCOM’s student interns now being able to treat patients on tables that are easily adjusted according to the needs of the intern and the particular treatment being provided, interns now have access to a more diverse patient population — mobility challenged patients — which directly enhances their clinical and educational experience. This gift serves the ultimate goal of acupuncture and Chinese medicine treatment, to resolve or alleviate a patient’s health issues, resulting in greater independence, more self-reliance, and an improved quality of life.

In March 2016, thanks to an individual’s donation in honor of his daughter, OCOM purchased, installed, and put in use its first adjustable, ADA-compliant, ergonomic, electronic lift treatment table at its on-campus OCOM Clinic. This single table had an immediate, positive impact: between July 1, 2016 and June 30, 2017, OCOM provided 479 treatments on that table, prioritizing patients with severe health issues and mobility/movement challenges. There were, however, many more such patients needing access to such customizable equipment than could be accommodated with a single such table.

Now, thanks to the Firstenburg Foundation, OCOM has a total of 11 ADA-compliant, electronically-adjustable tables with which to provide treatments. The “Enhanced Access” project has additional funding proposals pending with other foundations, aiming to replace all of the college’s existing treatment tables.

The Firstenburg Foundation invests in community nonprofits that make a measurable difference within southwestern Washington and the Portland metropolitan area, communities formerly served by First Independent Bank, which was founded by Edward W. Firstenburg. The Foundation supports the legacy of Edward W. and Mary Firstenburg, that of improving the economic conditions and quality of life within our community.