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Wendy Hammarstrom massages Freida Wone, Innerworks Center, Philadelphia

Although I have expressed my frustration with the process of becoming credentialed through the California Massage Therapy Council, as have many others, I was thrilled to hear the following news, in a letter from Ahmos Netanel:

You might have heard by now that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed AB 1822.  The CAMTC and the massage therapy community strongly believe that the governor listened to reason instead of rhetoric in making his decision, and that the veto itself reflects the disciplined, transparent and cooperative approach we have brought to certification of massage therapists in California.

In his veto message to members of the Legislature and the public, Governor Schwarzenegger wrote:

“I am returning Assembly Bill 1822 without my signature. This bill is unnecessary and inappropriately requires specific law enforcement association appointments to the California Massage Therapy Council (CAMTC). This Council is already working closely with law enforcement professionals across the state to ensure the profession is appropriately screened for past criminal activity before being certified. In addition, there are members of the public, not associated with the massage industry, already appointed to this Council. For this reason, I cannot sign this bill.”

In a decision of equal importance, the Governor signed Senate Bill 294, by the Chair of the Senate Business and Professions Committee, Senator Gloria Negrete McLeod.  This measure contains language written by Legislative Counsel and supported by the massage therapy community, clarifying that statewide certification by the CAMTC does allow CAMTC certified massage professionals to practice anywhere in the state – in general law cities and charter cities alike. 

On behalf of the CAMTC Board, I would like to thank all of the therapists and practitioners who stood up for their profession. The Board is very proud of how the massage therapy community so cogently expressed to policymakers the critical role they play in providing safe, quality care in California.  You and your colleagues are the ones who told the story of an honorable profession that is doing an extraordinary job of working constructively with law enforcement to weed out the bad apples. It is rewarding that massage professionals were able to make their own case against very difficult odds, but it is equally important that we leave the door open to our critics so they can be further educated about the benefits of massage therapy.

Respectfully,

 Ahmos Netanel

Chief Executive Officer

CALIFORNIA MASSAGE THERAPY COUNCIL


 
Healthcare-NOW!
Dear single-payer activist:Sunday, August 29th at 8pm Eastern Time, join Healthcare-NOW!’s monthly single-payer activist call to discuss moving single-payer healthcare forward.

Please use this Dial-in Number 1-218-862-1300 and Conference Code 441086. To mute and unmute the line, please hit 4*.

Proposed agenda:

  • Update on Hands Off Our Medicare and the deficit commission – Katie Robbins
  • Candidate pledge/Bird dogging
  • March for Jobs October 2nd: Bringing the single-payer message – Donna Smith, National Nurses United
  • Update from Retirees for Single Payer
  • Update from Physicians for a National Health Program
  • Healthcare-NOW! November Strategy Conference
  • Open discussion

Please submit any additional agenda items or questions to info@healthcare-now.org.

Looking forward to hearing you on the call!

For Improved Medicare for All,
Katie and Jeff
Healthcare-NOW! National Staff


I received this urgent alert today, August 20th, 2010:

THIS IS AN URGENT ALERT TO ALL CAMTC-CERTIFIED MASSAGE PROFESSIONALS THAT NEEDS YOUR PROMPT ACTION!!

Police Bill May Go Before State Senate on Monday!!Immediate Phone Calls and Emails Needed!!

The California State Senate is about to vote on AB 1822, a bill sponsored by the California Police Chiefs Association. If AB 1822 becomes law, California’s police chiefs and sheriffs will be forcing their way on the California Massage Therapy Council (CAMTC) board. It is a dangerous precedent.

The police chiefs original intention with AB 1822 was to force the reversal of SB731 and give back police departments the unrestricted power to regulate massage therapists. When that effort  failed, thanks to the many letters massage professionals like yourself sent to their state legislators in protest, the police chiefs switched tactics and are now are attempting to force themselves onto CAMTC’s Board of Directors with AB1822.

No other California professional board, and no other state massage board in the nation has law enforcement officials as directors.

The CAMTC Board of Directors believes that if AB 1822 if becomes a law, it will:

  • destabilize the CAMTC Board and make it harder for the CAMTC to protect the rights of certified massage professionals to practice without undue interference.
  • unfairly stigmatize the massage profession in California,
  • do nothing to improve public protection.

California State Senators will vote on AB1822 any day now.


Saturday, May 22, 2010, 10AM-3PM

Come get a mini table massage from me, and check out first edition of my new book, Circle of Healing: Helping Extraordinary Clients with Yoga and Massage, A Practical Guide.

Pechanga Resort & Casino

45000 Pechanga Parkway, Temecula, CA 

Sponsored by Riverside County (CA) Commission for Women

60 vendors and speakers

Admission free with non-perishable canned food item or grocery store gift card for $5.  Refreshments provided with admission.

The County of Riverside Commission for Women seeks to improve the status of all women by ensuring opportunities for each woman to develop to her full potential.  In support of this mission, the Commission for Women identifieis problemsl, defines issues and recommends policies and procedures to the County Board of Supervisors regarding, but not limited to, women and health, the workplace, family, education, violence, law and society.

More information, contact me at 951-677-5962 or Michele Broad, Women’s Health and Wellness, 951-304-3180.


My friend Mary has been fighting an uphill battle against a variety of illnesses, including cancer, since the early 1990s.  When I met her she had just moved to Murrieta Hot Springs in southern California to get the full gamut of healing waters, massage and other bodywork, yoga, and also the help of some fine MDs.  But, as the hot springs closed to the public, she was forced to look elsewhere and she ended up in a cancer clinic in Mexico, where she rallied and beat the cancer. 

Today she is facing some more cancer issues and is living in Albuerquerque, NM, where she had moved to care for her mother.  Her mother died this past year, and Mary needs a place to stay to help her heal again.  But where?

I have called all around the US and Canada to find a cancer clinic that combines the best of modern western medicine, and the best of holistic health, where the person with cancer can live during the treatment.  Many of the calls I made were to hot springs since Mary was always drawn to healing waters.

I have not made much progress, so I’m putting this wish of hers out to the world.  Any suggestions?  Please email me at Wendy726@verizon.net.


This is the headline of an email I received from the Government Relations Chair of the American Massage Therapy Association California chapter today, April  9, 2010.   Having just received my state (voluntary)certification after 36 years of working in the field of bodywork and healing arts I am dismayed.   Ever since I moved to California in 1992, I have observed local law enforcement  creating difficulties for bodyworkers to practice their profession. 

I thought Senate Bill 731  was the beginning of positive change, that finally bodyworkers were going to be acknowledged and respected for the valuable work they do.  It is particularly troubling to me that massage therapists and law enforcement and other first responders work so closely in the face of natural and manmade disasters, and yet are at odds when it comes to this issue.  At  least SB 731 was a beginning.

Apparently Assembly member Sandre Swanson has introduced Assembly Bill 1822 into the legislature and if it becomes law (albeit  not until after December 31, 2015), all massage therapists will again be required to have local permits for each city in which they practice.  That means that in addition to the fee paid to the California Massage Therapy Council,  for fingerprinting and background checks and certification process, that they will have to pay an additional $75, or $100 or more  to practice per city and to fund local background checks.  Also local law enforcement would have the final say regarding whether or not to certify someone.  

 Under local permitting procedures, massage therapists are subjected to humiliating and unreasonable requests that have nothing to do with their fitness to practice massage therapy.  I can personally attest to this. 

Some people believe that this issue is being driven by fear.  Fear of non-western medical health care, fear of the power of healing practices, and fear of the practitioners themselves, who are mostly women.  I hope this is not the case, but I think we need to carefully examine the motives.

Is separating legitimate massage health professionals from prostitution the real reason for the the law wanting to enforce this?  Or, is it profit for local jurisdictions?  Or is it power?  I know when my city first devised its police-run massage therapy ordinance, one of the creators of the ordinance was a business man who was not a bodyworker.    As a 36 year veteran of the bodywork field, I have to question the logic of that.

Massage therapists need to be regulated like other healing professions are – by a state board, not by police departments.  AB 1822 would undo everything that massage therapists, consumers, and law enforcement gained with SB 731.

If you would like to become involved in this, sadly, ongoing battle or have questions, contact the Government Relations Chair Amanda Whitehead at gr@amta-ca.org.


Last summer my ninety year old father was hospitalized for a broken hip.  He was not getting much touch as his nurses were over-worked, and he developed a MRSA infection which meant no one could touch him without wearing plastic gloves.  In addition, his hearing aids were lost, and perhaps most challenging was the fact that he was brain damaged from an accident forty years ago.  When I got there his legs were blue from the knees down, and his feet were ice cold.  He was sleeping but seemed agitated.  I massaged his legs, feet and back.  He never woke up but when I left him he was sleeping with a peaceful look on his face.  The next morning his feet were warm and his legs and feet were a healthy color, and he was in good spirits.

Due to several complications he died several weeks later.  But during those weeks, at my insistence, he was graced with caring and loving touch from his immediate and extended family, and his entire Quaker meeting.  We in turn were graced to be sharing that sacred time with him.

Most people, like my father, appreciate caring touch.  Many, unfortunately, experience touch deprivation including people with AIDs, people with cancer and other illnesses; infants in Neo Natal Intensive Care Units, especially those who have been abandoned by their parents; people with injuries and amputations and deformities, the not very visible part of our population that is challenged with physical abnormalities; those recovering from addiction; victims of physical and emotional abuse who find it difficult to trust any touch; those suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome including victims of natural and man-made disasters and even car accidents; the elderly and the dying, and many veterans returning from Iraq who are suffering from the wounds of war. 

During times of high stress and financial hardship, healing touch is a gift you can offer someone, either done by you or if you prefer, you can find a reputable bodyworker who will work with you financially to find a price that works; most massage therapists I know offer holiday gift certificate specials.

Besides the emotional comfort of caring touch, massage therapy oxygenates the cells which increase endorphins, the body’s natural pain killers; it increases flexibility and movement in joints and eases stiffness and pain in arthritis sufferers and it gets the “chi” or life force moving, which helps us feel revitalized.  Healing touch reduces or eliminates stress related headaches, eases digestive disorders and chronic muscular pain including fibromyalgia, improves body image and speeds healing after surgery, and improves the immune system.  By increasing circulation, massage is invaluable in preventing bedsores that are so problematic, and too often life-threatening for the immobile.  It relieves agitation in Alzheimer’s patients, enhances blood pressure and pulse in geriatric patients, and helps women with all phases of the childbearing years.  Massage therapy comforts and relaxes children with attention deficit disorder, those with autism and people with many forms of mental illness.

You can start with those closest to you — your family and your immediate circle, including your pets.  My teenage daughter reminds me constantly that she needs massage to loosen tight muscles after an extreme physical work out, or to help her get to sleep when she is over-excited.  Our aging dogs need massage to help them with a myriad of conditions.

As vital as food and water is to our survival, so is touch and giving from the heart.


WisdomSeveral years ago was the first time I saw hospice care in action. As I watched the loving and experienced hospice and home health workers, I was struck by two things. First, we all die. And second, what better way to die than in our own home with comfort and support.

Palliative care seeks to alleviate pain without actually curing it. Hospice care addresses not only physical pain, but emotional, social and spiritual pain, not just of the patient, but also of the surrounding family.

If I were dying with friends and family far away, or if they were nearby but unable to care for me, I would want hospice and/or home health care. I would be in a familiar environment. Home health care workers would keep up with housekeeping and my basic cleanliness. My friends and my animals would be with me. My care would be under the supervision of a physician, a medical director, a registered nurse, social worker and hopefully, a massage therapist.

Massage therapy for a person who is dying is healing, even if it does not reverse the dying process. A person may leave this life feeling balanced and whole as a result of healing touch, or even non-touch. Bodyworkers who work with the ill and dying, and there are many of them, know that there are times when touch may be too much and it is appropriate to use above the body healing, such as Therapeutic Touch or reiki.

When a person is extremely debilitated, simply being there can be enough. This is true for animals as well as people. Before my dogs have passed over — and they had their own version of hospice — they valued the closeness but the lightest of touch was all they needed.

One of the hospice groups near me in the Inland Valley, Hospice of the Valleys says that through personalized services and a caring community, patients and their loved ones can obtain the necessary preparation for death so that it can be not merely a period of sorrow, but one which gives them a deeper understanding of life.

They also say, “When we came into this world, we are surounded by love, care and comfort…Don’t we deserve the same when we leave?”


Thinking back to my first experiences with health insurance as a welfare recipient in West Philadelphia in 1971 and more recently as a single working mother with a “pre-existing condition,” I have wondered, how do people afford health insurance?

In an effort to better understand what insurance is all about, I looked up “insure” in Webster’s Dictionary. The three synonyms are ensure, assure and secure. The definition: “to make an outcome clear.” Unfortunately for myself and for the millions of Americans who cannot afford health insurance, there are no clear outcomes.

An ad put out by a coalition of thirteen groups, including the United States Chamber of Commerce, the Health Insurance Association of America, and the AFL-CIO, shows the face of a pensive woman. On one side the test reads, “She has diabetes. She gets the insulin she needs. Her life goes on.” In the center there is a big “”OR,” and on the other side are the ominous words: “She has diabetes. When her job disappears, her medical coverage does too. Her life is threatened.”

According to the Institute of Medicine, more than 18,000 people die prematurely every year as a result of being uninsured, and women with breast cancer are 49% more likely to die if they are uninsured. Currently, more people are uninsured in the United States than the populations of Texas, Florida and Connecticut combined.

Kate Sullivan, health care policy director of the U.S, Chamber of Commerce, noted that the high cost of health care causes more than 1/2 of all personal bankruptcies in the United States.

According to the World Health Organization, the U.S. ranks thirty-seventh in the world for healthcare quality (and fifty-fifth for fairness), behind Chile, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Morocco and other nations. France ranks first.

So why, in a country as powerful and as technologically advanced as ours, wouldn’t we be number one in quality health care?

Ronald Glaser, M.D., a Minneapolis specialist in pediatric nephrology and rheumatology wrote in Harpers Magazine in July 2004, “Americans pay too much for their health care,” and “compared with other countries we receive a very poor return on our investment. The reasons are many, but they are not hard to understand: in essence, we have tended historically to view health care as a commodity like any other. But health is not a product; it is a public good. The evidence is clear that even when viewed through the reductive lens of purely economic self-interest, market-based, entrepreneurial medicine is a failure. Healing people after they fall ill is vastly more expensive than preventing the illness in the first place…Yet policymakers have consistently prefered the most expensive and least efficient models of health care, proving once again that the apostles of privitization are motivated not by hard-nosed economics but by an incoherent ideology that is little more than a brittle mask concealing the most irrational species of self-interest.”

A quote from the Physicians for a National Health Program sadly sums up our plight: “Our current national health care system is simple: don’t get sick.”