One of Cape Cod’s only practitioners of Community Acupuncture, Diana DiGioia, gives us a deeper look into her field of practice.
What is Community Acupuncture?
The Community Acupuncture movement was launched in 2002, by Portland, Oregon acupuncturist Lisa Rohleder, who was frustrated that the people she most wanted to treat -- her friends and neighbors -- couldn’t afford her fees. [Because acupuncture is not covered by insurance, patients must pay out-of-pocket for the services] She turned her Portland clinic into one where patients were treated in recliner chairs in a shared space, with a sliding fee scale of $15-$35. Low fees allowed for frequent visits, which is how acupuncture works best.
How did you come to practice Community Acupuncture?
I’ve been an acupuncturist here on the Cape for 21 years. The first ten years, I saw patients in small private rooms. I charged $60-$80 per treatment, which would be $96-$128 in today’s dollars. Most people couldn’t afford to see me very often. Many people came only one or two times, and many more were shut out completely by cost. I felt discouraged and not very useful.
In late 2005, I heard about the Portland clinic, and in 2006, my practice became the fourth clinic in the country to join the nascent Community Acupuncture movement.
In what other ways are Community Acupuncture clinics different than private practice?
Community Acupuncture clinics are social businesses, with a double bottom line. Besides earning a profit, a social business aims to solve a social problem. In this case, that problem is the high cost of acupuncture. Today, with hundreds of clinics around the country giving nearly a million treatments a year, community acupuncture has become a life-changing gift for practitioners, patients and communities.
Why do you think this is so important?
It’s amazing to see the difference it makes when acupuncture is available and affordable. Whether we’re easing lumbar or sciatic pain, reducing stress and anxiety, quelling the nausea of pregnancy or chemotherapy or cooling down hot flashes, the relief that acupuncture brings to people improves the quality of their lives. As a Community Acupuncturist, I feel grateful, busy and useful.
And those who were waiting for insurance to solve the issue of access to acupuncture for working and middle income folks? They’re still waiting.
Diana Di Gioia is the owner and Licensed Acupuncturist at Community Acupuncture on Cape Cod in South Dennis. She currently treats patients on M/T/R/F.
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