Friday, May 7, 2010

Community Acupuncture, aka Gospel Train

Get on board, a-little childrun
Get on board, a-little childrun
Get on board, a-little childrun
There's room for many-a-more...

And here's the internal war I've been waging with myself over the past few years. I love acupuncture. LOVE it, and I'm not using that word lightly. I think it's a fabulous tool for regaining and maintaining health of all sorts; physical, mental, spiritual. AND... it's very expensive. The going rate in this area is between $70-$90 per treatment. Per treatment! Holy crackers!

That, my friends, is not sustainable health care for the most of us, especially when you consider that acupuncture works best on injury or acute chronic conditions if it's administered at least 1X/week, usually between 6-10 weeks, and then at maintenance levels after that.

There are all sorts of reasons given for this, but what it boils down to is that when acupuncture crossed the ocean to the new world, it needed credibility, and it decided that credibility could be gained by adopting the standard western medical model: 1 client, 1 practitioner, 1 room, and given the nature of acupuncture treatment, for 1 hour. And if you look at it that way, well yeah, you'd have to charge a lot to cover your building rent and the cost of the education that got you there, and enough to make a living besides.

The downside of this, from a practitioner's point of view, is that it severely limits your circle of clientele. $70-$90/hour? That eliminates about 75% of people from seeing acupuncture as a possibility for themselves. Another 20% of us (those with health benefits) can afford some treatment, but certainly not on a weekly basis for very long, and maybe 5% of the population can afford to address their health and/or pain problems with acupuncture on a regular schedule.

It's hard to build a thriving practice if you can only count on a sliver of that last 5% to partake of what you're offering.

And then me, I'm thinking, "I'm going to stick a few needles in someone and let them percolate for half an hour, and for that I'll charge them $70?" Hmmmm.... even a conscience as leathery as my own finds a problem with that.

I've forgotten the actual statistic, but I believe that in North America, a large majority of acupuncturists are no longer practicing acupuncture 5 years after they graduate. The model simply doesn't work very well unless you can tap into an elite clientele.

Consequently you hear a lot of griping on acupuncture message boards about the masses not being committed to their health, etc. But really, come on! If someone's making minimum wage, they're barely paying the rent, never mind taking care of the degeneration of their knees. And on the other-other hand (have I used up all my hands yet? I warn you, I'm like a Hindu goddess in that regard), I have NO PATIENCE with people who say they can't afford treatment when they're sipping a $5 coffee.

This was going somewhere...


This is a different business model. It's not 1:1:1:1. With community acupuncture, multiple clients are treated simultaneously. Generally speaking, you use recliners instead of tables, and they're all in a big room together. People remain clothed, rolling up pants and sleeves, and most of the points used are from the knee to the foot, shoulder to hand, neck, face, head. Fees are on a sliding scale, usually from $15-$40 per treatment, often with an initial $10 surcharge for the first appointment to cover the paperwork and extra time involved in reviewing your medical history.

And here, my friends, is a video to give it flesh.

I was thinking about this concept all on my own up here in Northern Alberta, and consider my surprise when I found it all assembled and ready to use down in the States! No need to reinvent the wheel. Someday I'm going to be an acupuncturist, and I do believe that this is the way I'm going to go. It sits well in my heart.

I hear the car wheels rumblin'
And a-rolling through the land...


clairesgarden said...

wish i was close enough for you to practice on me.....
it is difficult to choose between pain care and eating. I have been there.
luckily I now work for a chiropractor so I am mostly pain free. the healthcare system we are provided free in this country was no help at all.

Madcap said...

Hi Claire,

I wish you were closer too! I've never been in a position to choose between groceries and medical treatment, but it's not such a feat of imagination to envision it, and I've got a conviction that it shouldn't have to come to that. I'm glad to hear that you've got access now to the treatment that helps you.

Mercutio said...

Just thinking, it mightbe a good idea to keep a stack of tyvek pants around, with a locker room to change. Pant legs don't always roll up so easily.

I think it's a good idea though, a large common room. Boosts productivity and all that.

Never tried acupuncture, but I'm open to the concept. I knew a fellow whose dad quit smoking that way.

Madcap said...

Hi Mercutio,

You're right, not all pants work to roll to the knees, but there are a lot of points lower down around the feet and ankles. And people get used to wearing/bringing suitable clothing. I use a lot of techniques in my massage practice that work a lot better for everyone involved if the client is wearing soft clothing, so I tell everyone what works, and usually they remember. If not, oh well. We work around it.

You should give acupuncture a try! Especially with everything that's been going on, it would be a great stress-buster, and immune-booster.

Juliana Crespo said...

Wish that we had community acupuncture here in Indiana! It's something I've been wanting to do for awhile but have not because of financial reasons. You're right, who can afford going and spending $70-$90 a week? *Sigh*, Someday I'll get around to it and I'm sure it will be absolutely wonderful.

Madcap said...

Oh, too bad! After looking at their map, it looks like the closest clinic is in Chicago. You know, there were a couple clinics in Canada that weren't listed on the website, so may you could contact CAN and see if someone could give you a referal? Good luck!

WV - Pins! What a hoot!