Treatment comes with a fine point | ParkRecord.com

Treatment comes with a fine point

(Tanzi Propst/Park Record)

For Zui Fang, a licensed acupuncturist, helping people is all in the family. His father made sure of that.

"He often brought me, when I was young, to his clinic to see how he treated the patients," Fang said.

Fang is one of the state's first licensed acupuncturists to be employed by a hospital, and he recently began working out of the Park City Hospital's LiVe Well Unit. Kelly Woodward, the unit's medical director, said bridging the divide between traditional Western medicine and Eastern medicine is a goal that Intermountain Healthcare wants to achieve.

"We like to offer things that are beneficial that may be different from medications," Woodward said. "Frankly, medications have side effects and so if we have alternatives that work as well or better, we would like to be able to make those available. And acupuncture is a great alternative."

Acupuncture, an ancient Chinese treatment for various conditions, is performed when a licensed acupuncturist places sterile, hair-width needles into a patient's body. Procedures are usually performed in conjunction with other medical treatments.

"We treat patients and pick the specific points based around the theory of meridians and collaterals," Fang said.

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Fang, a native of Zhuhai, a city in southern China, is no stranger to American life. He's lived in the U.S. for 15 years and has passed through Ohio and California on his way to Utah. He's a former faculty member at the American Institute of Alternative Medicine.

Fang said that compared to everywhere else, though, living in Park City is a significant change, from the natural beauty of the area to the slower pace of life.

"Traffic is not heavy; not crowded," Fang said.

Employing an acupuncturist is a novel step for a hospital to take. Woodward said there are only a few in America that do so, and Intermountain Healthcare employs only one other in Utah.

Fang said education and doing good work for patients are the key to increasing acceptance and breaking the stigma around alternative medicine.

"First we need to educate, to do some education to the general public, especially the patients, to let them know acupuncture can help a lot of different people with different medical problems," he said.

"Any time you have a service like acupuncture or something that is a little more alternative, to have it in a hospital and have it essentially endorsed by healthcare workers and medical doctors, it legitimizes it," added Amy Roberts, spokesperson for Intermountain Healthcare. "So people understand that this isn't some hocus-pocus thing."

Roberts is a columnist for The Park Record.

After getting set up with Intermountain Healthcare's computer database, Fang's ready to get to work helping patients.

"I just try to help the patients and relieve the patients' problems," he said.

Park City Hospital is slated to begin scheduling acupuncture appointments at the end of January.