Health Justice for Boston ~ Number 7. July 2014

Community Meeting on
Community Health Centers

Wednesday, July 16, 2014 @ 7:00 PM
Jobs with Justice Jamaica Plain Office
3353 Washington Street corner Green
Near Green Street T Station, on Bus Route 42

Stop the Biolab Coalition Invites You to Celebrate        

The Stop the Biolab Coalition is throwing a Hail Mary pass to Boston’s new Mayor, Marty Walsh, on the afternoon of July 9th. We hope he doesn't fumble. Whether he fumbles or not, we'll be at Slade's Bar & Grill at 6:00 o'clock that evening. Join us in celebrating our success so far in keeping the planet's deadliest germs out of Boston! Join us in thanking our fearless leader, Klare Allen, who has selflessly led this fight from the beginning!

WHERE:     Slade’s Bar & Grill, 958 Tremont Street, Roxbury
WHEN:     July 9th - 6PM on …

Arrive before 8 PM to avoid an entry fee. There will be food, drink and music. The Black Comedy Explosion begins at 8:15. Bring your dancing shoes and your wallet. We are each responsible for our own tabs and we hope folks can make a donation to Klare’s housing fund as well.

Health Justice Off November Ballot

The Massachusetts Nurses Association has withdrawn its two health care questions from the November 4th ballot following passage of a bill limiting nurse assignments in intensive care units. The Raise Up Massachusetts coalition has dropped its ballot question on raising the minimum wage with the enactment of the $11/hour minimum, but will be pursuing the Earned Sick Time initiative in November since the Legislature took no action on it.

Our June Meeting Rocked

Thanks to Debbie Socolar, we had lots to study about Boston’s community health centers. The closure of Roxbury Compre-hensive Community Health Center has left a void in access to necessary services. The assignment of patients to surrounding centers leaves major transportation hassles for many. We’ll probe this situation and explore remedies in future meetings.

John Ratliff brought forward the “Leave No Senior Behind” campaign of the Massachusetts Senior Action Council. Since the income threshold for retiree services is so low in Massachusetts, many seniors of modest means on MassHealth actually have to pay more for health care once they turn sixty five. MSAC will be coordinating pressure to change this situation. We endorsed this initiative and will be looking for ways to support it.

Sandy Eaton spoke of the campaign to stop the Bush/BU bioterror lab on Albany Street. We wrote up our suggestions and submitted them to the coalition as it prepares for its upcoming meeting with Mayor Marty Walsh.

Won’t you join us at our next meeting at JwJ on July 16th?

Affordable Alternative Medicine for the Inner City By Quentin Davis, Beth Sommers & CJ Allen

Quentin Davis: Last month I interviewed Richard Mandell, Roxbury Neighborhood Acupuncture, for our newsletter. Two of his colleagues respond here to that dialog.

Beth Sommers: The Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s Bureau of Substance Abuse Services sponsored a number of programs throughout the Commonwealth starting in the mid-1980s (including Dimock Community Health Center, Boston City Hospital, Fenway Community Health Center, Somerville Portuguese-American League and Cambridge Hospital) - some of the first community-wide public health efforts involving acupuncture. Although acupuncture was an unfamiliar approach for many people, these programs provided a valuable approach and treatment option. I helped to start the acu detox programs at Fenway Community Health Center and Boston City Hospital. A significant barrier to the success of these programs was a lack of leadership from public health colleagues and those in positions of power at the institutions where  acupuncture was offered. Although acupuncture programs existed, they were not nurtured or promoted to enhance sustainability. In other parts of the US, the situation has been very different with successful programming. That said, there are significant examples in the Boston area of successful community-based clinics (Community Acupuncture centers, Boston Medical Center, Pathways to Wellness (with free clinics for military veterans and people living with HIV/AIDS) and free programs for people living with HIV/AIDS at Massachusetts General Hospital, Tufts Medical Center and the Zinberg Clinic at Cambridge Hospital. Single payer approaches would certainly be welcome across the board for all types of healthcare.

Elizabeth Sommers, PhD, MPH, LAc
Director of Research and Education
Pathways to Wellness/AIDS Care Project

CJ Allen: In addition to the acupuncture services provided by NESA at Dimock, the student-intern Chinese Herbal clinic was successful in providing consultation and herbal prescriptions to patients free of charge due to the generosity of Crane Herb Co. who donated the herbs to the clinic. In 2008, Crane stopped supplying the clinic with herbs free, and then patients were charged $15 for a two week supply of herbs, well below market prices. NESA absorbed the added expense. The clinic was housed in a basement room that often flooded causing allergic reactions. There was hope that Dimock would find us a new space but that never materialized, so, sadly, NESA withdrew the clinic from Dimock, but at the same time began a student intern herbal clinic at Pathways to Wellness. While supervising the herbal clinic at Dimock, I wrote a descriptive case study of the herbal clinic and delivered a paper at the American Public Health Association’s annual meeting in 2008 in San Diego.

The research showed that when available and accessible the underserved patient population of Dimock embraced Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture. The paper, entitled “Using Chinese Herbal medicine in an Inner-city community health clinic,” was a retrospective review of 90 active case files from 2003 through 2007. The population served was 5 to 86 years old, with a median age of 51. 76% of patients were female, 24% were male. 53% of patients were African-American, 23% white, non-Hispanic, 12% Hispanic and 12% were other. The main complaints of patients were: Musculoskeletal, including arthritis and joint pain 32 %, mood/emotional, including anxiety 12%, Neurologic 11%, ObGYN 9.6%, Respiratory 9.6%, GI 9.6%, Weight 8.4%, Low energy, fatigue 6%.

Conclusions: Chinese herbal medicine is a safe, effective means of treating a variety of acute and chronic symptoms. The NESA Chinese herbal medicine clinic at Dimock was a suitable site for further studies. When available and accessible, CHM is embraced by a minority, underserved patient population. The study led to the improvement of NESA’s method of collecting and documenting patient information, and outlined the need for further research into Chinese Herbal medicine.

Chinese Herbal medicine and acupuncture have a place in public health, particularly in service to the underserved patient population. I am presently supervising an acupuncture clinic in Family Medicine at Boston Medical Center and also supervise a Chinese herbal medicine clinic at Pathways to Wellness. I also served as an acupuncturist at Dimock providing NADA protocol to treat substance abusers, in a clinic under Richard Mandell’s direction.

CJ Allen, MAc, Lic Ac, Dipl CH
Associate Dean
Assistant Professor
New England School of Acupuncture

What is Healthcare Justice?

Access: Can you get the care you need?
Affordability: Will you go bankrupt if you do?
Quality: Will you survive your encounter?
Equality: Do you meet special barriers to care?


For more information on campaigns to make health care a right, not a commodity:

Healthcare NOW!
Labor Campaign for Single Payer

For help navigating the current system:

Boston Mayor’s HealthLine @ 617-534-5050

Health Care For All - Massachusetts
Consumer Health HelpLine @ 800-272-4232

Massachusetts Health Connector
Customer Support @ 877-623-6765

Sponsor: Boston Ad Hoc Committee for Healthcare Justice

For more information, contact:

Quentin Davis @ 617-553-2949 or
Sandy Eaton @ 617-510-6496 or

Health Justice for Boston is archived on Seachange Bulletin.