With more people losing their jobs and fewer people spending like they did in the past, community acupuncture has become the new frontier for the alternative health industry.
Across the United States, hundreds of community acupuncture clinics have sprung up in the last few years. According to Karen Grosskreutz, membership coordinator for the newly established POCA COOP, every week, six new clinics register as POCA members.
Today, 170 clinics are registered, although Grosskreutz said she believes that the actual working number is closer to 300. This includes clinics that were part of POCA’s predecessor, the Community Acupuncture Network.
In Oakland, six clinics offer the group setting, sliding scale acupuncture known for it’s reliance on hand, head and feet treatment points. Compare that to 10 clinics in Seattle and five clinics in Portland’s 97213 zip code alone.
The Oakland Acupuncture Project has found a winning formula to meet clients' growing needs: Six clients per hour, each paying $15-35. That’s the business model it has used to move from one clinic with two practitioners to two clinics and five practitioners.
“With a sliding scale we can help people get in a couple times a week if they need to,” Roselle Mc Neilly, acupuncturist at the project - or OAP - said.
Whitney Thorniley, co-founder of the OAP, found out about the community model finishing her acupuncture course work.
“Finding out about community acupuncture was a huge relief for me in many ways,” she said. “While I was excited about finishing school, I was not sure about how I would rationalize client fees that I myself couldn’t pay. It was a huge, aha moment.”
Not far from the Academy of Chinese Culture and Health Sciences - which provides education in Traditional Chinese Medicine - sits Oakland’s latest clinic. Open since last December, Lake Merritt Community Acupuncture stands out with its use of beds instead of reclining chairs.
“Acupuncture in the U.S. become an elite treatment,” Dan Eng, founder of LMCA, said. “In China, where group acupuncture is the norm, you see a practitioner daily for 10 days. Here, many can’t receive as many treatments as their ailments require due to the cost of each visit.”
Many students and patients are eager for added affordable acupuncture clinics according to Grosskreutz. As a result, we are seeing growing trends in more community acupuncture clinics opening in the near future, offering specials that fit individual lifestyles.
Oakland community acupuncture clinics:
North Oakland, 5263 Claremont Ave.
Fruitvale, 2330 35th Ave.
Full disclosure: This reporter is a client of Oakland Community Acupuncture.