Community Acupuncture Clinic to Open in July of 2012
I once had a patient who was having a hard time relaxing on the table because she was so worried about her father. Her father was diabetic and experiencing debilitating low back pain. The back pain interfered with his ability to exercise, which he had used to help manage his diabetes. His blood sugar levels got worse and he found himself unable to cover the costs of the medications prescribed to him by his doctor. Her dad had been out of work for 2 months and was quickly sliding into a major depression. She urged him to try acupuncture for pain relief, but his insurance didn’t cover acupuncture and he couldn’t afford the cash rates.
Unfortunately, this kind of story isn’t uncommon, and it’s especially sad that so many people go without proper healthcare when we are one of the richest nations in the world. But I could spend this whole post complainin’ about the state of health care in our country. Instead, I’m going to tell you some good news. This patient referred her dad to a community acupuncture clinic outside of Boston (10 minutes from his house) where he began receiving acupuncture treatments twice a week. After 2 weeks of treatments, his pain was reduced by 80 percent. He found work within the month. And getting regular acupuncture treatments didn’t blow a hole in his bank account.
Community acupuncture clinics are steadily sprouting across the country. And in July of 2012, the community of Portland, Maine will be getting a big wallop of love when the doors of the Wildwood Community Acupuncture Clinic open to the public! After running a successful health clinic in the heart of downtown Portland, the owners of Wildwood Medicine, Sasha Rose and Daniel Katz, have decided that they’d like to reach out to the community in a new kind of way: to provide a space where people can come for regular and affordable acupuncture treatments in a peaceful and safe environment.
When I asked Sasha Rose about her plans and expectations regarding the new clinic, it was clear that she and Daniel have goals than go beyond simply figuring out how to guarantee financial success. “It has always been our goal to serve and meet the needs of the local community,” said Sasha. “This model makes acupuncture more affordable and more accessible to more people. Whether someone has a specific complaint or is simply curious, he/she is welcome to try it out. Our goal is to create a healing, relaxing space where people will want to return again and again.”
The community acupuncture setup is a brilliant model that makes it possible to serve ALL members of the community with consistent, preventative/palliative health care. That’s right – ALL members of the community. So, how the heck does it work? And what about health insurance? And what exactly is a “community acupuncture clinic?”
The Community Acupuncture Model
The best explanation of how a community acupuncture model functions comes from the experts themselves, The People’s Organization of Community Acupuncture (POCA for short) – an online community rich in resources and information for patients and acupuncturists alike. The website is equipped to answer all the questions one could think of, so visit for more details if you’re so inclined.
Simply put, a community acupuncture clinic is a warm, quiet, safe space in which multiple recliners are set up in small groups. There can be anywhere from 5 to 20 recliners, depending on the size of the space. Patients come in, sign in, and pay on a sliding scale for their treatment (sliding scale is $20-40; pay what you can and no questions asked). One or two acupuncturists are available to treat the patients who are visiting the clinic. There aren’t many questions asked, and if so, they are quick and to the point, and all communication is done in a whisper as to not disturb the other patients. Once the acupuncturist knows what you need help with, he/she will look at your tongue and take your pulse (tongue and pulse are used diagnostically in Chinese medicine). Then you recline, get your treatment, and slip away into the meditative peacefulness that is commonly referred to as “acu-land.” When you are ready to leave, you give the acupuncturist(s) a meaningful glance, and they “de-pin” you and release you to the great outdoors, where you are now more equipped to deal with whatever comes your way.
Because treatments are affordable (often less than a co-pay for those who have insurance) patients are able to come in multiple times a week, which is greatly beneficial to people with chronic health complaints. Acupuncture works best when used consistently, and the community model makes regular treatments an option, even for those without health insurance.
But in my humble(ish) opinion, the best part of a community acupuncture treatment is less…explicable. Something beautiful happens when you have a roomful of (relative) strangers in a deep state of relaxation. The butcher, the baker, and the candlestick maker have a moment to share in the sweetest of all common denominators without even lifting a finger – a moment of pure relaxation in which the body gets a chance to work its own magic.
So, keep your calendars marked for the opening of the Wildwood Community Acupuncture clinic – and come in and get poked!