Since its inception, the Community Acupuncture movement has been led by practitioners to serve patients. The movement has grown from a single clinic in Portland, Oregon, to hundreds of clinics around the country and the world. Practitioners and acupuncture students turning to this model of affordable, sliding-scale care in a group setting have generated a critical mass of energy that is propelling the Community Acupuncture movement into its next stage of growth and development. To date, the Community Acupuncture Network (CAN), a 501c6 non-profit professional organization, has been the main vehicle to foster the growth and proliferation of community acupuncture.
However, needs have arisen that will be best met by a new type of organization—a multi-stakeholder cooperative. One of the most basic issues addressed by the cooperative that was not served by CAN is the direct involvement of patients in the process of governing the organization. Participation in a coop means that membership is a shared responsibility – everybody is invited to become involved.
WHY DOES COMMUNITY ACUPUNCTURE NEED A COOPERATIVE?
Acupuncture is important to our health – as individuals, families, co-workers, and community members – because it provides inexpensive, non-invasive relief from pain and suffering.
Community Acupuncture defines and supports a mode of direct delivery of affordable care for people of ordinary incomes regardless of insurance coverage.
Community Acupuncture provides a new model for healthcare and self-care empowerment.
Community Acupuncture has at its heart a commitment to social justice and the deconstruction of barriers to care and resources.
Community Acupuncture’s commitment to social justice is expressed in part by addressing specific barriers to accessing care and training in the field of acupuncture, namely cost.
Community Acupuncture has created, just in the last 5 years, employment opportunities where there were none. However, because of the debt load that graduates bear coupled with the culture of the acupuncture profession, many of these positions have yet to be filled.
A COOPERATIVE WILL ADDRESS EXISTING NEEDS FOR:
Proliferating and sustaining affordable acupuncture
Offering affordable training and education for acupuncturists
Articulating new paradigms of healthcare and health empowerment
Growing vital local economies
Creating social and financial capital – both in our local communities and within the community acupuncture movement
Expanding into currently un-served communities
Linking with other communities working for social justice
Meeting the many needs of existing clinics: employees, micro-lending, training materials, personnel materials, managerial materials, mentoring, other hands-on support
WHY JOIN A COMMUNITY ACUPUNCTURE COOPERATIVE?
Patient/Community member benefits: coop’s (vs. non-member) sliding-scale, 10th tx free, special offers, initial fee waived at member clinics, three “Free Treatment” cards to share, newsletter, (poss. access to membership list for cross marketing purposes)
Punk/Student member benefits: forum, employer support, collective buying power, LOC directory, low-interest loans, employment network (poss. malpractice ins.)
Every Voice Matters—It starts with “how you feel” after coming for acupuncture—once, ten times, fifty times. When acupuncture is able to provide lasting relief from a problem or help to optimize one’s health, it is important to share this feedback with others. The riches of our collective knowledge are a valuable community resource. Sharing this resource by sharing our experiences will help to bring students, practitioners, patients, regulators, and others to the movement.
Every Vote Matters—Individual coop members each have one vote in the decision-making processes that will define and guide the coop towards its stated goals. Annual elections for coop board members and specific projects are a shared responsibility of the membership. In this way, the accessibility and proliferation of an effective form of health care is directed by the very people the coop serves: its practioners, its patients, its community.
Coming Together—we create mutually beneficial relationships where patient/community members can give hands-on support inside the clinic and out in the community. We continue our advocacy as patients and practitioners to bring affordable acupuncture to places where it is still needed. We manifest our vision of vital local economies and healthy, empowered communities of individuals. Through our collective resources, we create training and employment opportunities. Our collective voice speaks our purpose to the acupuncture profession, its regulatory bodies, and the health care field at large.
WHAT CAN I DO RIGHT NOW?
Watch the CAN blog for POCA updates
Join POCA on Facebook (until the official POCA website launches, we hope in early May)
Download and read “Solidarity as a Business Model” at www.uwcc.wisc.edu/pdf/multistakeholder%20coop%20manual.pdf