THE U.S. CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION (CDC) is calling opioid prescription abuse “the worst drug overdose epidemic in history.” Opioid overdosing is on its list of top public health challenges.
With the October 2015 theme of #PainFreeNation, emphasizing social media engagement, National Chiropractic Health Month (NCHM) is quite relevant. Members of the profession are being called upon to help end the opioid epidemic by spreading the word about chiropractic’s conservative, broad-spectrum and nonaddictive pain-management methods.
ACA News spoke with three ACA members about their plans for celebrating NCHM this year and about their more memorable past NCHM events.
Our interviewees are:
• David Creech, DC: Creech Chiropractic, Apex, N.C. Brent Hextell, DC: Rocky Mountain
• Chiropractic and Sports Injury Centers, Windsor, Colo.
• James Schantz, DC: Leading Edge Sport and Spine, Roswell, Ga.
1) Challenge the Status Quo
Dr. David Creech says 2015’s theme calls on doctors of chiropractic (DCs) to be proactive. “We can work to create a pain-free community. For my part, I want to leverage the month of October and this year’s theme to help medical professionals see things in a little different light. I’ll reach out to the MDs I know at the hospital across the street and nearby to remind them not only about National Chiropractic Health Month but also about chiropractic’s value as part of an effective pain management program.”
Dr. Creech adds that this year’s theme also triggers his concern about our nation’s veterans who have become addicted to opioids. “I plan to use the information that comes out of military channels. I’ll reach out to the Veterans Health Administration facility closest to my clinic. It’s important to let them know that chiropractic has been shown to help soldiers who suffer from pain, and not just from back pain.”
Dr. Brent Hextell claims a “close, personal connection to the severity” of opioid abuse. Like our other doctors, he immediately began thinking about how this year’s theme can be used to create some MD and DC networking opportunities. “I encourage other DCs to work with their medical providers and pharmacists to collaboratively provide quality education for the community.”
Dr. Hextell says he believes this particular theme lends itself to a community-wide approach. “If done right, you could wind up hosting a lecture that becomes a mainstream opinion-maker, not just an alternative-topic type of lecture. I would like to challenge my peers to work with their town or city officials. Set your sights on creating a community event that demands a venue much bigger than you can provide in your clinic.”
Dr. James Schantz calls this year’s theme “inspirational.” He says it’s motivating him to think more, do more and become more creative in his approach to celebrating National Chiropractic Health Month because of what opioids are doing to the American public.
“Opioids wreak havoc on the lives of so many people and their families. I will be putting a good amount of time and energy into reading the research to find studies that address pain management using chiropractic instead of opioids.”1
Those studies, he says, could be used as the basis for a community-by-community campaign carried out by DCs throughout Georgia. He plans to enlist the help of not only those in his own practice but also members of the Georgia Chiropractic Association.
“Federally funded programs and health care organizations underwrite prescriptions for these medications that cost the government a tremendous amount of money. Multitudes of people have become addicted and underemployed, or even unemployable, because of their abuse of opioids. Addiction sends far too many to hospitals, prisons or cemeteries.”
“The public needs to be made aware of how effectively chiropractic can help manage pain and decrease opioid use. This is a key and timely issue. We must demand better action and referrals from the medical community. We can and should work together to put an end to the opioid epidemic.”
2) Reach Out to Patients
All three of these doctors have used National Chiropractic Health Month to connect with patients and their communities in the past. They’ve come up with creative approaches to make sure their communities not only learn more about chiropractic but also have a good time.
Last year, Dr. Creech and his staff created a weeklong event by celebrating together his practice’s anniversary, National Chiropractic Health Month events, patient appreciation day and Halloween. Refreshments were served to patients at the clinic, which had been whimsically decorated to evoke the ’70s. For the Halloween celebration, any established patient who came in costume got a free adjustment. Everyone in the practice dressed up, and Dr. Creech wore the costume of a disco star. He laughs at the memory. “That was not my best look,” he says, “but my patients loved it.” And because they did, the event got an unusual amount of attention on social media.
With the goal of building relationships and trust in the community, as well as educating patients and their families, Dr. Hextell decided to broaden his event beyond the scope of a patient appreciation day. For that reason, he renamed it a community appreciation day. Appealing to patients’ altruism, he asked them to bring in donations for the local food pantry. He also offered raffles, prizes and 15-minute health talks throughout the day, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. The last talk, which ran for half an hour, included a PowerPoint presentation and was given at 6:30 p.m. He says he always uses ACA’s NCHM theme but puts his own twist on it.
Dr. Hextell says it’s crucial to cluster-book patients to get them there for the health talks. Because so many patients show up, he bypasses therapies and solely practices chiropractic with two adjusting bays and a hot seat. “And for the whole month leading up to it, I discuss different facts/topics/principles with patients. I give them handouts that discuss the topic and invite them to our community appreciation day. This way, we create buzz the entire month and celebrate NCHM every day.” Dr. Hextell chooses Wednesday for the celebration because studies show that the most successful community appreciation days are held on the practice’s busiest day.
“Absolutely no charges are filed to patients or their insurance companies. Donations are appreciated. I donate my entire day, and patients are welcome to bring staples to donate. My staff takes care of the donations and sees that they get to the pantry. I just see patients all day and do health talks. I figure if someone actually could use the food donation themselves, they don’t need to bring anything. No one keeps track of the donations. To me, it is simply a day to give back to the community.”
Dr. Hextell strongly recommends that DCs reach out to their favorite vendors to provide some items for patient goody bags. “They will likely be happy to contribute,” he says. “Chiropractic is a wonderful family. Vendors and others mentored and inspired me to host these events and provided me with the knowledge and materials to make the events a great success.”
Dr. Schantz says his most successful NCHM celebration so far was one called “We’re Having a COW.” COW stood for “Chiropractic Opportunity Week.” Staff scoured the Dollar Store to find images of cows to put up around the clinic. Posters of cows decorated walls and the reception room. It created curiosity among patients, allowing Dr. Schantz to focus on the serious business of educating them about chiropractic. Years later, patients still talk about the COW!
National Chiropractic Health Month
Promote #PainFreeNation Using Social Media – Here’s How!
Beginning Oct. 1, DCs and their staff can take these easy steps to initiate NCHM celebrations:
Change your social media profile picture to the NCHM logo during the month of October.
Share NCHM infographics on your website and on your social media accounts.
Post pre-written Facebook posts and Tweets throughout October.
Copy and paste ACA’s blog posts on your own blog.
Share ACA’s videos on your Twitter or Facebook and/or your website.
Post the NCHM #PainFreeNation web button on your website.