History of Community Acupuncture
The community acupuncture (CA) business model is the brainchild of Lisa Rohleder, L.Ac, and Skip Van Meter, L.Ac. of Working Class Acupuncture, in Portland, OR, and is based traditional community styles of treatment often practiced in Asia. Faced with wanting to treat many members of their community who could not afford the standard acupuncture prices, and wanting to earn a reasonable, sustainable living as practitioners, they devised a sustainable community business model that provides frequent, effective, simple acupuncture treatments to patients at a cost most can afford while providing a living wage for the acupuncturists. Community Acupuncture clinics are social businesses, as defined by Nobel prize winning economist Muhammad Yunus.
Working Class Acupuncture was born in 2002 in the Cully neighborhood of Portland, OR. As of 2013, they now have three locations which provide close to 1000 treatments each week. WCA employs numerous acupuncturists as well as support staff and has become an invaluable part of the health care system of their community.
In setting up the first CA clinic, the founders asked some simple questions: What were the barriers to people getting acupuncture? What is really necessary for acupuncture treatments? How can acupuncturists make a sustainable income providing treatments to more people? The result is the community acupuncture model, which includes some fundamental re-imaginings of what acupuncture is and can be, and many helpful systems that help clinics run smoothly.
In 2006, Lisa and Skip began offering workshops for other acupuncturists to share the CA business model, the philosophies behind it and their systems and experience.
There are now hundreds of the CA clinics around the United States and the world that are treating many thousands of patients, employing hundreds of acupuncturists, building community, and providing solutions to the widespread lack of accessible and affordable health care that faces us today.
The Remedy: Integrating Acupuncture into American Healthcare, by Lisa Rohleder
Acupuncture is Like Noodles: The Little Red(Cook)Book of Working Class Acupuncture, by Lisa Rohleder, et al.
Acupuncture Today articles
OCOM Lisa’s presentation to students (all Acupuncture students should watch!)
The Basics of Community Acupuncture
Part 3: Community Acupuncture Principles