By Jess Williams
Las Cruces can’t claim to be the global hub of many worldwide movements, but Crossroads Community Supported Healthcare, doing business as Barefoot Acupuncture Movement (BAM) aims to change that.
The nonprofit is run by Executive Director Dr. Ryan Bemis, who answers to a board of directors and oversees a staff of two full-time and one part-time employee.
“We partner with underserved communities to build resiliency through acupuncture. Our clinic in Las Cruces serves as the center for our global movement. We walk in solidarity with communities affected by poverty, war and injustice, offering tools and resources to build resilience,” Bemis said. “Our global team mobilizes disaster relief clinics to address trauma in humanitarian settings. We accompany local groups and lend support as they take control of their healthcare. We cultivate collective local leadership and help them develop sustainable models of care for behavioral health, humanitarian aid, and as a complement to primary care. Our goal is to use acupuncture as an agent for social and intrapersonal change, both during an immediate crisis and for long-term recovery. We do this through our Barefoot Schools, Barefoot Collective and Barefoot Clinics.”
Bemis said the work began in 2011, in collaboration with community projects in Juarez, training people how to offer acupuncture to those affected by violence.
“During the past decade,” he said, “we’ve trained more than 400 health workers along the U.S./Mexico border and in Latin America. Our programs have provided more than 90,000 acupuncture treatments, primarily offered by volunteers at no cost to patients lacking access to basic healthcare.”
BAM is based out of the Crossroads Acupuncture Clinic at Families and Youth, Inc., 1320 S. Solano Drive, where, Bemis said, “we offer care for working-class and veterans in our region. Humanitarian aid projects we have started include a Refugee Care Program for migrants on the U.S./Mexico border, homeless programs at Community of Hope, survivors of the El Paso 2019 mass shooting and partnerships with indigenous programs throughout Latin America to address trauma, addiction and a variety of health issues.”
Bemis said the COVID-19 pandemic has both complicated BAM’s mission and shown the need for it.
“The global disparities in accessible healthcare for people have only become exaggerated in light of COVID-19,” he said.
Pandemic notwithstanding, Bemis said the potential for acupuncture “as a formidable remedy” remains largely untapped.
“To make acupuncture something effective and sustainable for humanitarian aid requires a conscious grassroots approach,” he said. “We regularly field inquiries from students, health practitioners and community health groups asking for our expertise and leadership in the BAM Model. These requests run the gamut from state prison facilities, the Department of Veteran’s Affairs and humanitarian aid workers.”
He said the Las Cruces has implemented strict measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“We follow the highest standards of CDC, national, state and local guidelines,” he said, “and we’ll be doing so into the future. All treatments are offered in a disinfected, isolated room away from other patients. Our commitment is providing acupuncture for a variety of mental wellness and health problems.”
Bemis said area residents can support the BAM global initiative in a number of ways, the most direct of which is to make a cash or in-kind donation or make an appointment to be treated. Payments for treatments, he said, go directly to support free clinics in underserved areas around the world.
“All donations can be made through our website, as well. If your school or community agency wants to integrate acupuncture into the services offered for patients, we can offer support,” Bemis said. “Local health providers can jump into our online webinars designed for training on how to use acupuncture within any community program.”
Visit barefootacupuncturemovement.com for more information about training and their global causes.
To schedule an appointment or find a regional clinic in the US/Mexico border region, go to crossroadsacupuncture.com or call 575-312-6569.