Notice of Privacy Practices

The following is a standard HIPAA-compliant summary.  Every patient is offered a copy at the initial appointment.  You may also request a printed copy at later appointments, or simply copy it from this site.  The main point is that I pledge never to use your private information in any inappropriate way!

This notice describes how health information about you may be used and disclosed and how you can get access to this information.  It is effective April 14, 2003, and applies to all protected health information contained in your health records maintained by us.  We have the following duties regarding the maintenance, use and disclosure of your health records:

(1) We are required by law to maintain the privacy of the protected health information in your records and to provide you with this Notice of our legal duties and privacy practices with respect to that information.
(2)  We are required to abide by the terms of this Notice currently in effect.
(3)  We reserve the right to change the terms of this Notice at any time, making the new provisions effective for all health information and records that we have and continue to maintain.  All changes in this Notice will be prominently displayed and available at our office.

There are a number of situations in which we may use or disclose to other persons or entities your confidential health information.  Certain uses and disclosures will require you to sign an acknowledgement that you received this Notice of Privacy Practices.  These include treatment, payment, and health care operations.  Any use or disclosure of your protected health information required for anything other than treatment, payment or health care operations requires you to sign an Authorization.  Certain disclosures that are required by law, or under emergency circumstances, may be made without your Acknowledgement or Authorization.  Under any circumstance, we will use or disclose only the minimum amount of information necessary from your medical records to accomplish the intended purpose of the disclosure.

We will attempt in good faith to obtain your signed Acknowledgement that you received this Notice to use and disclose your confidential medical information for the following purposes.  These examples are not meant to be exhaustive, but to describe the types of uses and disclosures that may be made by our office once you have provided Consent.

Treatment:  We will use your health information to make decisions about the provision, coordination or management of your healthcare, including analyzing or diagnosing your condition and determining the appropriate treatment for that condition.  It may also be necessary to share your health information with another health care provider whom we need to consult with respect to your care.  These are only examples of uses and disclosures of medical information for treatment purposes that may or may not be necessary in your case.

Payment:  We may need to use or disclose information in your health record to obtain reimbursement from you, from your health-insurance carrier, or from another insurer for our services rendered to you.  This may include determinations of eligibility or coverage under the appropriate health plan, pre-certification and pre-authorization of services or review of services for the purpose of reimbursement.  This information may also be used for billing, claims management and collection purposes, and related healthcare data processing through our system.
Operations:  Your health records may be used in our business planning and development operations, including improvements in our methods of operation, and general administrative functions.  We may also use the information in our overall compliance planning, healthcare review activities, and arranging for legal and auditing functions.

There are certain circumstances under which we may use or disclose your health information without first obtaining your Acknowledgement or Authorization.  Those circumstances generally involve public health and oversight activities, law-enforcement activities, judicial and administrative proceedings, and in the event of death.  Specifically, we may be required to report to certain agencies information concerning certain communicable diseases, sexually transmitted diseases or HIV/AIDS status.  We may also be required to report instances of suspected or documented abuse, neglect or domestic violence.  We are required to report to appropriate agencies and law-enforcement officials information that you or another person is in immediate threat of danger to health or safety as a result of violent activity.  We must also provide health information when ordered by a court of law to do so.  We may contact you from time to time to provide appointment reminders or information about treatment alternatives or other health-related benefits and services that may be of interest to you.

Others Involved in Your Healthcare:  Unless you object, we may disclose to a member of your family, a relative, a close friend or any other person you identify, your protected health information that directly relates to that person’s involvement in your health care.  If you are unable to agree or object to such a disclosure, we may disclose such information as necessary if we determine that it is in your best interest based on our professional judgment.  We may use or disclose protected health information to notify or assist in notifying a family member, personal representative or any other person that is responsible for your care of your location, general condition or death.  Finally, we may use or disclose your protected health information to an authorized public or private entity to assist in disaster relief efforts and to coordinate uses and disclosures to family or other individuals involved in your healthcare.

Communication Barriers and Emergencies:  We may use and disclose your protected health information if we attempt to obtain consent from you but are unable to do so because of substantial communication barriers and we determine, using professional judgment, that you intend to consent to use or disclosure under the circumstances.  We may use or disclose your protected health information in an emergency treatment situation.  If this happens, we will try to obtain your consent as soon as reasonably practicable after the delivery of treatment.  If we are required by law or as a matter of necessity to treat you, and we have attempted to obtain your consent but have been unable to obtain your consent, we may still use or disclose your protected health information to treat you.

Except as indicated above, your health information will not be used or disclosed to any other person or entity without your specific Authorization, which may be revoked at any time.  In particular, except to the extent disclosure has been made to governmental entities required by law to maintain the confidentiality of the information, information will not be further disclosed to any other person or entity with respect to information concerning mental-health treatment, drug and alcohol abuse, HIV/AIDS or sexually transmitted diseases that may be contained in your health records.  We likewise will not disclose your health-record information to an employer for purposes of making employment decisions, to a liability insurer or attorney as a result of injuries sustained in an automobile accident, or to educational authorities, without your written authorization.

You have certain rights regarding your health record information, as follows:
(1)  You may request that we restrict the uses and disclosures of your health record information for treatment, payment and operations, or restrictions involving your care or payment related to that care.  We are not required to agree to the restriction; however, if we agree, we will comply with it, except with regard to emergencies, disclosure of the information to you, or if we are otherwise required by law to make a full disclosure without restriction.
(2)  You have a right to request receipt of confidential communications of your medical information by an alternative means or at an alternative location.  If you require such an accommodation, you may be charged a fee for the accommodation and will be required to specify the alternative address or method of contact and how payment will be handled.
(3)  You have the right to inspect, copy and request amendments to you health records.  Access to your health records will not include psychotherapy notes contained in them, or information compiled in anticipation of or for use in a civil, criminal or administrative action or proceeding to which your access is restricted by law.  We will charge a reasonable fee for providing a copy of your health records, or a summary of those records, at your request, which includes the cost of copying, postage, and preparation or an explanation or summary of the information.
(4)  All requests for inspection, copying and/or amending information in your health records, and all requests related to your rights under this Notice, must be made in writing and addressed to the Privacy Officer at our address.  We will respond to your request in a timely fashion.
(5)  You have a limited right to receive an accounting of all disclosures we make to other persons or entities of your health information except for disclosures required for treatment, payment and healthcare operations, disclosures that require an Authorization, disclosure incidental to another permissible use or disclosure, and otherwise as allowed by law.  We will not charge you for the first accounting in any twelve-month period; however, we will charge you a reasonable fee for each subsequent request for an accounting within the same twelve-month period.
(6)  If this notice was initially provided to you electronically, you have the right to obtain a paper copy of this notice and to take one home with you if you wish.

You may file a written complaint to us or to the Secretary of Health and Human Services if you believe that your privacy rights with respect to confidential information in your health records have been violated.  All complaints must be in writing and must be addressed to the Privacy Officer (in the case of complaints to us) or to the person designated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services if we cannot resolve your concerns.  You will not be retaliated against for filing such a complaint.  More information is available about complaints at the government’s web site, http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/hipaa.

All questions concerning this Notice or requests made pursuant to it should be addressed to Elene Gusch, DOM at EleneDOM@aol.com or (505) 255-0373.

What if you’re afraid of needles?

First, please don’t worry!  Most people find acupuncture to be quite painless.  I’m extremely sensitive myself, and I’m used to working with patients who are sensitive or nervous.

If you still decide that you’d rather not have needles at all, again, don’t worry.  We can treat you by doing contact needling, touching a blunt silver needle (kind of like a small knitting needle) to the surface of your skin.  Or I can treat points by touching with my finger, or by taping on small metal pellets.  Magnets are another possibility.

We can also treat you with energy work in a more general way, without using the system of points, but acupuncture points are so helpful that I think you will prefer to have them involved.  I usually teach patients points they can press to treat themselves at home, too.

There are lots of possible ways to reach your goal of feeling good and having a body that works the way you want it to.  Let’s find out what will work best for you.

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Delta Blues, or how I spent my summer not being able to take a vacation

Elene Explores

We still need all of these layers.

When I started writing this post, I was planning on a straightforward update on the current situation with the delta variant (sorry, I couldn’t resist the obvious title). And then a 13-year-old killed a classmate at a local middle school for no discernible reason. And then the Taliban took back Afghanistan.

The murdered boy was trying to talk his killer out of continuing to bully his friends. He stood up to him with words, doing exactly what most of us would teach our kids to do, what my daughter would do, what I would do. The right thing.

Going into Afghanistan was never the right thing. I remember writing “Can you say ‘quagmire’?” back then. Three quarters of Americans thought this war was a great idea. I was part of the other quarter. I take no pleasure in being right in this case…

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Don’t “Panic,” But We’re Not Done with This Yet. Not Even Close.

Elene Explores

Best New Mexican conspiracy theory. The booster has microguacamole.

Last week we got the news that a little girl, under 10 years of age, died of COVID-19 in our state. Because of privacy concerns, all we know is that she had underlying conditions and was hospitalized. Kids her age are of course not being vaccinated as yet, one more reason we still need to be careful. This is not over, not by a long shot.

I started writing this post in early April, then ended up working on other matters and putting it off for an unconscionably long time. Many things about the pandemic have become clearer since then, while others have become muddier still.

At that time a few months ago, COVID-19 was doing its maximum damage in India, and Brazil was not far behind. There were still influential voices referring to the pandemic as a “panic,” implying that…

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Mask Confusion, Mask Destruction?

Elene Explores

This part at least is clear!

 

I’m just coming off a session of attempting to de-freakout someone about a misleading vaccine scare article. I’ve had it with the antivaxx disinformation crew, and then I’ve also had it with the “science-based” bunch who poo-poo everything that doesn’t fit their narrow field of vision, like the guy I was reading a few minutes ago who insists that chiropractors aren’t doctors. I’ve had it.

I bet you’ve had it too.

Let’s take a deep breath, get a cup of tea, and survey the current state of play in our pandemic reality.

 

Are you confused about where, when, and whether to wear a mask now, or whether they help at this point? Of course you are. The current guidance is about as confusing as anything in the past 15 months has been, though I don’t know how it could be stated much…

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Sorting Medical Fact from Fiction, Part III: Give Me Liberty AND Give Me Death

Elene Explores

Patients have been asking me about “herd mentality,” which they then quickly correct to “herd immunity.” Herd mentality we’ve got plenty of. Herd immunity, not so much. In fact, it’s unclear whether widespread, lasting natural immunity to COVID-19 is even a biological possibility. It may turn out to be only a mirage.

But as the pandemic drags on and we are all getting weary, some of us are worn down enough to entertain some pretty crazy notions– or to take cynical advantage of our weariness.

The Great Barrington Declaration came out on October 4, made a splash, and is still being talked about. This is a letter which calls for letting the virus essentially run wild among the younger and healthier members of the population, in order to bring about a theoretical herd immunity, while in some way protecting those who are at high risk. It’s named for Great Barrington…

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Sorting Medical Fact from Fiction, Part II: We Need Therapy

Elene Explores

About the time I began writing this, at the annual meeting of our New Mexico Society for Acupuncture and Asian Medicine, we heard a presentation from David Riley, MD about how to write case reports for publication in medical journals. That brought home to me how much goes into each published study that we read and how slow and incremental the scientific process can be.

At the same meeting, one of my senior colleagues went into a passionate rant about how the SARS-CoV-2 virus was engineered as a bioweapon and we are at war, hydroxychloroquine was great, we should all go to Fox News and Newsmax to get The Truth, and most stunning of all, that President Trump was the highest order of doctor because he saved the lives of the people of America by instituting a travel ban.

The rest of us sat there and gazed bemusedly at our…

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Sorting Medical Fact from Fiction, Part I: The Two Earths

Elene Explores

No, not the Silurians.

A couple of decades ago, a friend introduced me to the work of a person who was then known as Anna Hayes. Supposedly her teachings were “downloaded” (not channeled, she said) from a galactic council of aliens who were trying to be helpful to humanity and fight other aliens, including that perennial mainstay the reptilians, who were working to keep us confused and divided. Following her and doing the practices she taught was supposed to raise people’s vibratory states and allow them to rise above these malevolent influences and create a better reality.

Some of her practices appeared to be worthwhile for one’s health. Some of the very, very dense verbiage involved was obviously crap. And a lot was so hard to understand that one might not be quite sure. There was one contention she had that keeps coming up in my mind, though: a prediction…

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When We Used to Dance

Two Halloweens ago.  I haven’t been part of a live performance since February this year.

Dance is a huge help to my mental and physical health.  Although it’s not quite the same, there is still plenty going on with dance classes and performances in the virtual world.  I encourage you to move to music in any way that inspires you.  There’s nothing better for body, mind and spirit!

What Are Viruses? In a Way They Are Us

Elene Explores

Coronavirus structure. An artistic response to the last SARS epidemic, in glass. https://www.lukejerram.com/glass/gallery/sars-corona-virus

At the beginning of the year, I wrote about the goddess Kali, having no idea how soon she’d be coming after us.

I also wrote about the interconnectedness of everything on the planet and everywhere, and how the dichotomy of humans vs. nature is false.

It turns out that even the dichotomy of viruses vs. us is false. We all learned in school that viruses are tiny beings that exist in a strange twilight zone between the living and the nonliving, and that they can’t reproduce without using the machinery of plant or animal cells. I hadn’t followed that thought to its conclusion, which is that since viruses must build themselves out of the materials of our own cells, they are in a sense made out of us. They, too, are inextricably entwined with ourselves.

This came…

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Have You Been Saddled with a Garbage Can Diagnosis? by James Rolwing

This stuff does happen often. Sometimes it’s just plain hard to pin down what’s really going on, but often there is a lack of attention and thought.

Pattern Release Energetics

This is the second part in a series that focuses on “garbage can diagnoses” (see Part I for a more detailed description of what constitutes a GCD.)

TMJ: (properly known as temporomandibular joint disorder) “My doctor/dentist says I have TMJ.” Gawd, I wish I had a dollar (nickel adjusted for inflation) for every time I’ve heard this one. Of course, they never follow up this statement with how it’s being treated, because most practitioners don’t know what to do with this condition besides give you a mouth guard. Great, now I can play hockey without losing my teeth, but my jaw still hurts. This GCD could include everything from jaw clicking, locking, joint pain, and nighttime clenching and grinding.

The importance of the jaw in overall health can’t be overstated. Because of the intense concentration of nerve receptors in the jaw that monitor proprioception–the body’s ability to sense…

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What Is This Qi Stuff, Anyway?

(Written for my colleagues on Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Day, 10/24/18, and posted on the website of the New Mexico Society for Acupuncture and Asian Medicine.)

The field is the sole governing agency of the particle. — Einstein

There is a school of thought that seems to be gaining currency in our profession lately, which says that the concept of Qi is nothing more than a quaint misunderstanding of what the ancient sages were really writing about, and that our medicine is really all about the nervous system and other purely physical aspects of the body.

This is simply not true.  In an apparent effort to align their work with biomedical science, these authors are actually ignoring a great deal of that same science, not to mention the experiences of myriad practitioners and patients. 

Let me start with typical human perceptions of the energetic field surrounding the body, the manifestation of Qi we think of most often.  While Qi can be complicated to pin down in terms of exactly what types of energy and what frequency ranges are involved, close to the body it’s very simple to perceive and to demonstrate. 

When I am scanning for active points or disturbances in patients’ bodies, the person on the table often says, with surprise, “I can feel exactly where your hand is!”  Of course they can, as this is a normal human ability.  When patients ask me what Qi is, or what is meant by Qi Gong, I have them try a very simple exercise: Hold your palms near each other, about a half inch apart.  Notice what you feel. A kind of pressure, a bit like the feeling of trying to bring two magnets together with the same poles facing?  Warmth?  Tingling?

Nearly everyone can perceive this immediately.  I’ve tried this exercise with hundreds of people when I’ve given presentations to groups, and only a couple have ever said that they didn’t feel anything. 

When I used to teach Reiki, I introduced the concept of the human biofield with another simple exercise.  One person would stand facing a wall, eyes closed.  Another person would walk up to them from the back.  The first person would raise her hand when she felt the presence of the other one.  This would happen consistently when the two were about four feet apart.

But although those effects are consistent and reliable, science likes objective, numerical measurements with instruments.  There are plenty of those to be had as well, and many of them have been done by researchers right here in the US.  That’s been going on for decades.

Earlier this month I had the opportunity to meet the biophysicist Beverly Rubik, who has spent 40 years studying the human biofield, and was part of the group that coined that term.  Her current work is largely in the area of biophotons, the weak but important light emitted from the body in the ultraviolet range.  Among other things, she has studied the changes in biophoton emissions involved with healers and healees, showing that more light is emitted from the hands of healers when they are doing their work.  One instrument she uses to detect biophotons is the Bio-Well gas discharge visualization camera, which is available commercially and has clinical applications that could be useful in an acupuncture office.

She stated at the conference that as a child she could feel energy, but that “it was educated out of her.”  The biofield, she said, is proposed to be “a high-speed wireless communication system, a bridge between the mind and body.”

I had already encountered Dr. Rubik’s work in a 2016 online course, “The Science of Energy Medicine,” given by the Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology.  Here are some quotes from her presentation there:

‘… I see the biofield as a complex dynamic standing wave within and around the body. Let me tell you more. You’re already familiar with the concept of standing waves from musical instruments, for example a wood instrument, a clarinet. There’s a standing wave when it’s being sounded, or the plucking of a string in a violin or a guitar. Once again, a standing wave is vibrating and rendering sound. Not only sound standing waves are possible. There are also electromagnetic standing waves, too.’

‘There was one main prediction from the biofield hypothesis, and that is that if we can shift the biofield, we can change the physiology and chemistry and move the body, the body mind, to a new steady state….’

Experiments have consistently shown that intention is of great importance in causing measurable energetic effects: ‘I come back to that old principle of Oriental medicine. Where mind goes, chi, or energy, flows, and the blood and flesh follow.  This is the bottom line when it comes to how we can heal ourselves. We must change our minds. Then there are shifts in the biofield, and then the flesh and blood is the slowest to change overall.’

You might wonder why, after four decades of work like this, the science of the biofield is not more familiar, even to those of us who deal with it every day. Dr. Rubik gave some reasons why it is not: ‘We have certain challenges in biofield science. We are dealing with complex dynamical fields that are actually very low-level that become difficult to measure and we have to use a variety of tools. There is no one singular tool that you can grab off the shelf that’s ready-made to look at the biofield, but rather a collection of different tools to understand and probe the biofield through different windows.

‘There’s also very little funding and no concerted effort. Unfortunately, the NIH has dropped the ball and it is not a lead agency. We have no leading organization that’s making a concerted effort to forward biofield science or its understanding in the frontiers of medicine, and I’ve long been an advocate of something I call a Human Energy Project [along the lines of the Human Genome Project].’

Here is an article in which Dr. Rubik gives a lucid overview of methods of measuring the biofield:
https://www.faim.org/measurement-of-the-human-biofield-and-other-energetic-instruments

Another researcher who started measuring the biofield, even earlier, was Valerie Hunt, who began as a scientist with no knowledge of or interest in esoteric or energetic matters.  She eventually developed new instrumentation that could detect immensely higher frequencies than had been measured around the body previously, in the range of hundreds of thousands of cycles per second.

‘My academic background is as a neurophysiologist, and I was also a registered physical therapist. I was working in electromyography and electrocardiography, and I was interested in the patterns of electromyographic energy in the body that were related to emotions. Eventually, I established a pattern of emotions connected with neurological energy. In the process, I was the first researcher to have a telemetry, electromyography instrument. This was when the first astronauts went into space. They had to have monitors of their basic health — the heart rate, the blood pressure, and the galvanic skin response — sent from space. They did this using telemetry, which is a radio frequency instrument system. It would send a signal on an FM frequency down to the earth, where NASA would record the FM frequencies and know what was happening to the astronauts.

‘When I heard about this, I got in touch with NASA and the young scientist who had first made that telemetry instrumentation, and I had him build for me the first telemetry electromyography instrument. This meant I could test a person using an FM frequency, a radio frequency, process the data through my instrumentation and record it. And when I did this I found the electromagnetic energy field.

‘This was in early 60’s, and I thought, “Oh my God, what have I got here?” So I brought in researchers from the university’s chemistry, physics, and engineering departments. I said, “What have I got, an artifact?” And they kept saying I didn’t, that my equipment was working fine. They tested everything, and finally I realized I was dealing with a new kind of energy in the body.’

https://healthontheedge.wordpress.com/2012/01/28/the-human-energy-field-an-interview-with-valerie-v-hunt-ph-d/

Dr. Hunt famously worked with the healer Rosalyn Bruyere, and was able to correlate her perceptions of the human aura with the readings made by her instruments.  In addition to making measurements of the biofield, she was able to create practical applications for healing.  She was still going strong on a number of projects when she died in 2014.

All of these electromagnetic emanations from the body are relatively weak.  How do we explain the much more extreme effects that can be produced by well-trained Qi Gong masters and some others?  That’s not at all clear, but the effects are incontrovertibly there.  For example, a fascinating series of trials by Mikio Yamamoto in Japan was reported by Lynn McTaggart in her seminal book The Intention Experiment, involving a master doing tohate, in which the master could push another person back several yards through sheer force of will and Qi, while the other was trying to resist.  The master was isolated in an electromagnetically shielded room on the fourth floor of a building, while his student was placed in a similar room on the first floor.  Neither the distance nor the shielding prevented the effect; in nearly a third of 49 trials, the master was able to knock the student back.  (p. 53)

A nonexistent energy could not visibly, objectively move a body. 

Probably quite a few of us have felt a more mundane version of this kind of effect, being pushed back from the treatment table when a blockage in a patient suddenly released, maybe even feeling that we were “knocked across the room” by a considerable force.  How can the biofield, which seems so feeble when measured, create a force like that?  I don’t know of anyone who has answered that question in terms of biophysics, and it is urgently begging for an answer.  There has to be something more to Qi than the types of electromagnetism we have detected in and around the body so far.

At the conference where I met Dr. Rubik, I had an unusually dramatic experience of being strongly tapped between the eyes by someone who was not physically present.  It didn’t hurt, but it knocked me back a little, and everyone in the room saw that.  Some years ago, such a person pushed my whole body a few inches sideways on my chair.  You can’t help but be impressed when an invisible force moves you against (or at least without) your will.

The other issue with explaining Qi solely as a matter of electromagnetic fields is that electromagnetic effects rapidly diminish with distance, but Qi has no trouble at all being transmitted across any given amount of space.  The tohate experiments are a particularly vivid example of that, but many of us do remote treatments that are effective in a quieter way.  What, precisely, is being transmitted?  Or is that the wrong question?

Here, from the ACEP course, is Gary Schwartz attempting to deal with this issue:
‘Now, how do we explain effects that are taking place across 3000 miles or in London, which is what, 6000 miles from Tucson [where he is based]? Or Sydney, Australia, which is even further. Electromagnetic field effects are insufficient to explain that kind of data because the intensity of electromagnetic fields decreases with the square of the distance, and they are modified by all kinds of objects in the environment. That’s one reason why you need to consider higher level or more sophisticated theories of physics to be able to explain this.’

‘To say that a quantum field is involved in distance, which it may very well be, for example, does not mean that the electromagnetics are not involved in proximal things. You can have multiple layers of mechanism being operative at the same time. That’s why I use a staircase for the explanations so people can see this. The problem with skeptics and probably most of us is that we don’t look at the whole picture.’

So at this point, we are very clear about many aspects of the human biofield— which we can call a manifestation of Qi— but there are large and crucial holes in our understanding.

To be continued….

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