BELFAST, Maine — For one of the first times since March, Sharon Romanow of Belfast settled in this week for a treatment with her longtime acupuncturist, Rhonda Feiman.
Just as she’s done for the past 25 years, Romanow relaxed as Feiman took her pulse and determined exactly where she would delicately insert the thin needles into her body.
But Romanow wasn’t in any office — instead, she was in the driver’s seat of her red sedan, parked in the driveway of Feiman’s Harbor Street practice. She reclined the seat as far as she could while the acupuncturist — protected by an N95 mask and face shield — darted around the car pricking her. As the session continued, people walked their dogs down the nearby sidewalk. Hammering and other construction sounds could be heard in the cool ocean breeze.
Welcome to what Feiman is calling “Drive-in Acupuncture.”
“We’re not doing fries or milkshakes, or doing it on roller skates,” the acupuncturist said. “Believe me, it’s all been asked.”
Beginning this spring, Feiman was in the same predicament as many of the state’s hands-on health practitioners — including massage therapists, reiki practitioners and others who were forced to shut down amid pandemic restrictions. Feiman closed her office on March 17 and worked remotely with clients for more than three months. Telehealth was helpful, she said, and even “quite fun.” But it wasn’t the same.
Even after the state authorized her practice to reopen, it didn’t mean clients felt safe to come in for treatments.
Feiman thinks she’s found a good solution in drive-in acupuncture and believes she may be the only practitioner on the East Coast to offer it.
While it may sound like a gimmick, there’s a serious side to the drive-in practice she started about a month ago.
“What I’m trying to do is provide a service for my clients and local people in Maine, who really want treatment, and who don’t feel comfortable walking into an office,” she said. “This makes it a little bit easier for all of us.”
It’s definitely easier for Romanow, who said she missed her acupuncture sessions while the practice was shut down, but wasn’t ready to be treated inside Feiman’s office.
“It’s actually worked really well,” Romanow said. “I have allergies, and it’s very good for healing after surgery. The balancing helps with all that, and being able to connect together and talk — it’s definitely good for stress and emotions, all those things.”
Drive-in acupuncture has necessitated some changes to her practice. Feiman mostly confines herself to working on her clients’ ears and feet now, but that has not been a huge limitation, she said.
But other clients have gotten creative. They’ve stretched out flat on camping mattresses tucked in the back of their hatchback vehicles.
“I have been able to do full-body treatments,” Feiman said.
Feiman said she hopes the drive-in treatments can alleviate some of the stress and anxiety this year has brought. That’s exactly what she explained she was trying to doing for Romanow.
“We’re going to do a few things that will help us get to all the good organ systems we need to get to, in order to balance and calm and restore,” Feiman said. “And in this day and age, that’s exactly what we need to do.”