WORKING CLASS ACUPUNCTURE OPENS SECOND LOCATION
Portland Business Defies Recession, Rising Health Care Costs
A Northeast Portland acupuncture clinic with a populist business model is celebrating its improbable success by opening a second location in Hillsdale. Working Class Acupuncture opened its doors seven years ago in the Cully neighborhood with one licensed acupuncturist treating about twelve people per week; the clinic now provides about four hundred and fifty treatments each week and employs twelve people.
While acupuncture normally costs anywhere from $60 to $150 per treatment, Working Class Acupuncture charges $15 to $35 per treatment, with patients choosing what to pay based on their own assessment of what they can afford. And while conventional acupuncture practices typically treat patients in individual cubicles, Working Class Acupuncture offers several communal treatment rooms with patients receiving acupuncture in recliners. As a result, an extraordinarily wide range of people are getting acupuncture, most of them for the first time: baristas, bike mechanics, construction workers, artists, musicians, veterans, teachers, janitors, students, as well as many retired people on fixed incomes and those who have lost their health insurance.
“Pretty much everyone told us that this wouldn’t work,” comments Lisa Rohleder, a Cully resident and the clinic’s co-founder. “The sliding scale, the treating people in recliners, the big red fist on the side of the building – people thought we were crazy. But we had to deconstruct the business model for acupuncture because it was no good at all for people of ordinary incomes. And it turns out that it works much better this way.” So well, in fact, that Working Class Acupuncture sparked the international “community acupuncture movement,” inspiring over 80 clinics in the US and as far away as Israel to adopt similar practices to make acupuncture more financially accessible.
While there are seven other community acupuncture clinics on Portland’s Eastside, none have appeared on the westside until now. “We have people driving to Cully from Beaverton and Hillsboro, and that is just too far when you’re in pain,” explains Rohleder. “We’re trying to serve our patients better by being more accessible to them.” The new WCA clinic is located at 4410 SW Beaverton Hillsdale Highway, about a mile and a half west of the Hillsdale shopping center. Both clinics are open seven days a week, and both will offer free acupuncture all day on May Day to celebrate International Workers’ Day.
Lisa Rohleder, L.Ac., is one of the co-founders of Working Class Acupuncture and of the Community Acupuncture Network. She is also the author of The Remedy: Integrating Acupuncture into American Healthcare. Readers who are interested in social entrepreneurship and community acupuncture can get more information from her book by purchasing it here and by visiting the Community Acupuncture Network website.