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A tribute from Pam Ferguson Dipl.ABT (NCCAOM), AOBTA-CI, LMT, AOMA’s ABT Dean Emerita

 During Covid’s peak, I loved the way early and recent AOMA alums rallied to my call for volunteers to join us in giving 15-minute “stress-busting” sessions for the ICU and ER day and night crews at St David’s North Austin Medical Center. We set up in the ICU waiting room with windows overlooking the main corridor, so we were on full display. We arranged chairs in a friendly circle around the central table with our gear. We piled healthy snacks, mandarins, and bottled water on the adjoining table. Our collective Qi was friendly and welcoming to the steady stream of RNs, Respiratory Therapists, Patient Techs, some MDs, and also the cleaning crew!

We offered a variety of techniques. The licensed acupuncturists maximized the NADA protocol – ideal for short sessions, and well tested for group therapy in disaster and crisis situations. Connie Randolph L.Ac included her tuning forks to “amplify Qi or address any specific areas of discomfort.” We added Asian Bodywork Therapy (ABT) – either Tuina or Shiatsu – after the needles were inserted, or where folks just wanted bodywork to ease stress.

Pam Ferguson

We worked on shoulders, necks, arms, hands, and sometimes feet. Sessions ranged from 10-30 minutes, whatever time the ICU crew could give us between their patients, during their breaks, or when patients were receiving another procedure. For many, it was their first experience with acupuncture needling and /or ABT and they loved it. They experienced Qi: “Energy is moving from my ears to my feet!” one RN exclaimed in surprise.

We provided calming Qi, light, and joy during 12-hour shifts where the St. David’s crew was grappling with critically ill patients, premature deaths, and family demands. AOMA’s President and CEO, Dr. Mary Faria, was so supportive that she opened free appointments at the AOMA Student Intern Clinics as a follow-up for these crews. This is an ongoing generous offer.

My deepest appreciation goes out to all AOMA alums who volunteered: Connie Randolph and Suzanne Rittenberry, who also volunteered when we organized sessions for hurricane evacuees a couple of years ago, as well as Ainge Lin, Robyn Brush, Adriana Martins, Nicole Fillion-Robin, Emily Tennison, Jameson James, Victor Manuel, Lauren McLaughlin, and Steven East. We were also joined by three massage therapists from Massage Envy.

For a longer article about our volunteering, tap into my February column Stress-Busting Sessions for ICU and ER crews in Acupuncture Today(

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