This month marks the one-year anniversary of our reopening post-COVID.
Reopening Sarana was the culmination of four months of planning and revamping our systems to be COVID-safe. We thought about aspects of the business ranging from how to sanitize recliners to how to limit building occupancy. We ordered air purifiers, developed contingency plans in case of COVID exposure in the clinic, furloughed employees, and rearranged furniture.
In the past year, we’ve become a leaner operation, cutting inessentials, and reducing our expenses. Since last year, we’ve given 4,000 acupuncture treatments — about 40% of our pre-COVID numbers. We’ve experienced (knock on wood) no COVID transmissions traced to Sarana. In fact, (knock on wood) I still know very few people who have had COVID. Clients have reported illness among friends and family, but I know less than a handful of clients who are COVID survivors.
For this luck, I am grateful. First and foremost, I am grateful to live in a community that took COVID seriously, where we locked down early, where people honored masking and social-distancing mandates, and where vaccination rates were high. I am grateful to Sarana staff who committed to our COVID-safe protocols and who got vaccinated as soon as possible. I am grateful to our volunteers who continue to do housekeeping and laundry despite the extra sanitary precautions we instituted. Above all, I am grateful to Sarana clients. You made extra donations to the clinic while we were closed and afterward. You increased your sliding-scale payments when we reopened. You abided by our masking and hand-sanitizing requirements, honored our COVID-screening, and canceled your appointments when you were sick or exposed to someone sick. Most of all, you came back. Sarana remains a viable business because of you. Thank you.
Looking back over the past year, what I’ve learned is that we were able to adapt, however much we might have disliked the necessity for change. We’ve pulled it off, so far. But looking forward, I see increasing uncertainty as both COVID and our impacted lives evolve. We will need to continue to adapt.
What will we need to ensure our adaptability and survival?
I will argue that we need compassion, consideration, cooperation, communication, courage. In short, we need community. Since the times when we lived as clans or tribes or pioneers, human success has depended on our sociability: our ability to share labor and the fruits of that labor, as well as to share our cultural inheritance — our knowledge and our technology. As we face tough times, we still need each other to keep us from the insanity of isolation, to remind us that we’re all facing the same crisis, and to share the labor of problem-solving and frontline work. Now, in a world of social-distancing and virtual meetings, I suggest that community acupuncture is an appropriate antidote to COVID-despair. Sarana continues to be a safe haven for us to support each other without getting in each other’s faces.
Looking forward, I invite you to continue to be a participant in our community. I send out my hopes that together, we will safely ride out the rest of the COVID storm.
~ Pam Chang