Interview: Meet Heart & Hands Health Collective

Welcome to Heart & Hands
Photo Attribution: 
Sam Binette

A feeling of warmth and comfort enveloped me as I walked into Heart and Hands Health Collective to meet Christina Chan, owner of the business whose core model is community acupuncture.  Jennifer, my colleague, asked Christina if they had done feng shui – she felt it too.  I have to admit, it is not every day that a room can produce such a sense of calm, a sense of belonging.  I felt as if I had been there before and was right at home.

Jennifer and I sat with Christina and chatted with her about the business – how it started, what it is about, who is involved.  As we talked, we toured the small building which has been completely renovated since the Collective took over the space in early 2010.  It is quiet and muted, relaxing and serene.   Standing in the main acupuncture room, you wouldn’t know you were in downtown Victoria.

Chairs are arranged in a circle in preparation for the next community acupuncture session.  There was a yoga class in the morning, and dance classes are also offered in this space.

I have now had several community acupuncture treatments at Heart and Hands, and I definitely recommend it to everyone, including my fellow needle-phobes.  The process is extremely relaxing and I felt substantial relief from a particularly painful middle ear infection I had when I first started going in for treatment.

BG: What services do you offer here at Heart and Hands Health Collective?

HH: We offer Community Acupuncture as a core service.  We also have dance, a yoga instructor, a holistic nutritionist, a homeopath who is also trained as a doula and 3 acupuncturists.  We have gone through many incarnations of the Collective, and continue to evolve to suit the needs of our client base and staff.

BG: What is Community Acupuncture?

HH:  Community acupuncture treatments are offered in a supportive group setting.  This allows for affordable and accessible holistic healthcare.

BG: How do you treat so many people at once?

HH:  We have eight chairs and we book in ten minute increments. Treatments range from 45-60 minutes, and clients get one on one time with a practitioner when they arrive.  After the needles are placed, the resting time happens in a supportive group setting.  This timing allows for people to come in pairs, and for the occasional walk-in.

BG: This is such a beautiful space!  How did you come across it, and did you renovate it?

HH: This space actually used to be the location of the college that I graduated from!  When I found out that the space was soon to be vacant, I was really excited and determined to use it for the Collective.  We spent 4 months renovating this space and painted every surface.  A lot of thought went into how to best make the space efficient and comfortable.

BG: How much does a Community Acupuncture session cost?

HH:  We offer a sliding scale model, meaning that we allow our clients to choose any amount between $20-40 per session.  We ask that they mindfully think about what they can afford.  It is designed so people don’t need to feel guilty or self-conscious about the amount they pay.  We also offer discounts on pre-paid bundles of sessions, and often have other promotions and discounts.  We offer a discount to our cyclist commuters who bring in their bicycle helmets.

BG: We have heard about Acupuncture for perinatal care and for things like postpartum depression – do you do that here?

HH: Acupuncture can treat a lot of conditions, and one niche is obstetrics.  I am actually performing a labour induction this afternoon.  I have successfully turned breech (upside-down) babies, and have a lot of experience with postpartum recovery.  We also offer a mom and baby timeslot, so mom can breastfeed, hold or keep the baby in a carrier and receive acupuncture.  We offer this because the 6 month period after giving birth is the most important time to look after your health to get 'back on track'.

BG:  What other kinds of conditions do you treat?

HH: Acupuncture can treat any number of different ailments.  A lot of people end up trying acupuncture after they have tried everything else.  We would love to see people come to us as a first line of treatment, but this is often not the case.  This being said, acupuncture is a process; it takes time for a condition to develop, so it takes time to 'reverse' or treat the condition.  Treatments need to be fairly consistent to see the benefits.

BG:  How do you determine how many treatments are needed?  Do you make diagnoses?

HH:  We have very thorough patient history forms that we go through with each client.  Sometimes we do need to make our own diagnosis; for example, a client is diagnosed with chronic migraines may in fact have a hormonal imbalance that needs to be addressed.  We take the pulse and check the tongue as part of the diagnostic process.

Each client’s treatment plan is individualized and is adjusted over time, depending on the particular need and progress of that person.

BG: How would you treat, say, back pain?  Would I have to be on my front?

HH: There are many meridians, channels of energy, which run through the entire body.  We don't treat conditions locally, we choose points away from affected area that are connected treat the condition.  For example, we can treat back pain using points in your hands.

BG: Do you prescribe herbs or other supplements?

HH:  Acupuncture is our main modality.  We will occasionally suggest herbs to a client, but only occasionally, because it can be difficult get some of the herbs in Canada and budget doesn’t accommodate.  Also, a good majority of our clients already see a naturopath or are on a combination of prescription medications.  We do still suggest some things like nettle tea or sinus irrigation.

BG:  What happens when you come in?  Do you have to change or get into a gown?

HH: No gowns are necessary!  You just need to come in comfortable, loose fitting clothes that can be rolled up to expose the bottom part of your legs.  That basically only rules out skinny jeans.  If you want to change here, you can, but most people can just come in their everyday attire, as long as they are comfortable and it is not too tight-fitting.

BG:  What if I am scared of needles?

HH:  Let us know! We treat needlephobes and we do our best to make the first experience as pleasant and relaxing as possible. 

BG:  What kind of person should come here for acupuncture?

HH: We have a very diverse client base with a wide range of different people.  We are open, community oriented, and non-judgmental.  We welcome anyone and everyone.

BG:  How do I make an appointment for acupuncture?

HH:  We have an excellent online booking system, or you can call us.  We occasionally take Walk Ins as well.  For first appointments, there is some paperwork, so we need you to come about 15 minutes before your schedules appointment.

Check out Heart and Hands Community Acupuncture at www.heartandhandscommunity.ca

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Publisher: New World Publishing
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