We treat in a community setting
Our clinic is filled with comfortable recliners cluster in groups in a large, quite, soothing space. Most acupuncturists in the U.S. treat patients on tables in individual cubicles or rooms. In Asia, acupuncture mostly happens in a community setting. There are many benefits to the community setting: it’s easy for friends and family to come for treatment together, many patients find it comforting; and a collective energetic field becomes established which actually makes individual treatments more powerful. In some styles of acupuncture the needles are removed after only a few minutes or a half-hour at most. The style of acupuncture we practice at WCA allows patients to keep their needles in for as long as they want and the “right” amount of time varies from patient to patient. Most people learn after a few treatments when they feel “done;” this can take from twenty minutes to a couple of hours! Many people fall asleep, relax deeply, and get up from treatments feeling refreshed.
We have a sliding scale
Most U.S. acupuncturists see only one patient per hour and charge between $65 and $175 per treatment. They tend to spend a long time talking with each patient, going over medical records, asking many questions. We don’t. The only way that we at WCA can make acupuncture affordable and still make a living ourselves is to streamline our treatments and to see multiple patients in an hour, and so we have returned to a more traditional approach; instead of asking you lots of questions, we rely on a quick pulse diagnosis and the information we gather from you to decide how to treat you. This is much like the way acupuncture is practiced in Asia—many patients per hour, and very little talking.
We use a sliding scale of $20-$40 per treatment. We do not ask for any financial information or verification, but let you decide what you can afford. We want you to get better and stay better, so choosing a fee that works for your situation and allows you to get enough treatment to make a lasting change is important . Because we have a sliding scale, we cannot bill insurance (that’s their rule.) If you have insurance that covers acupuncture, we’ll be happy to make out a payment receipt for you to submit; that’s okay with the insurance companies.
What We Need from You
WCA does not provide primary care medicine or diagnose medical conditions! Acupuncture is a wonderful compliment to Western medicine, but it is not a substitute for it. If you think you have a problem that is not “garden variety” (meaning you are worried that you might have a serious infection, a malignant growth, or an injury that won’t heal), or if you want someone knowledgeable to go over the details of your medical history with you, you need to see a primary care physician (MD, ND, DO.) We can provide some excellent, affordable referrals, even if you have no insurance coverage. But you cannot expect us to diagnose and treat something really serious. We can provide complimentary care for conditions that require a physician’s attention—for example we treat patients for side effects of chemotherapy. But we need you to take responsibility for your own health.
WCA does not receive grants, state, or federal money, or insurance reimbursement. WCA exists because patients pay for their treatments–it is a sustainable community based business model.
The community setting requires some flexibility from you. For instance, many patients have a favorite recliner. When we are busy, someone may be sitting in yours. Similarly, we have a few patients who snore. Other patients who dislike snoring bring earplugs to their treatments. We are grateful for this! Basically we need you to participate in making yourself comfortable in the community room before we arrive to treat you—remember to remove your shoes and roll up your pants and sleeves too. Please wear your shoes when walking in the clinic.
Treatment length varies and mostly we rely on your sense of feeling “done,” which usually looks like a period of relaxation followed by a feeling of alertness. But, if you need to be somewhere at a certain time let the acupuncturist know. Generally, if you feel done, open your eyes and make eye contact with us when we check on you. If your eyes are closed we think you are asleep or relaxing, and we will leave you alone.
The soothing atmosphere in our clinic exists because all of our patients create it by relaxing together. We appreciate everyone’s presence! This kind of collective stillness is a rare and precious thing in our rushed and busy society. Maintaining this reservoir of calm requires that no one talk very much in the clinic space. If you would like to speak to a practitioner one-on-one at any length, please let us know. If you want to have a substantial conversation, we will probably need to schedule that separately and might need to do it by phone.
If you have questions about acupuncture and how it works—please considering purchasing a copy of “Why Did You Put that Needle There?” Part of the money from the sale of this book goes to the People’s Organization of Community Acupuncture, a cooperative designed to help open community clinics like this one. Unfortunately we can’t explain what every point does, or how acupuncture works while we are treating you—these are very big topics. If you have questions there is plenty to read in the waiting room, on our website, and at http://www.pocacoop.com.
Part of our success is that our patients learn the “routine” and take on a lot of responsibility for the appointments. Re-scheduling and making payment happens at the front desk, when you arrive, so that you can relax and enjoy your treatment. Please take all personal belongings (bags, shoes, coats, etc.) back with you to the treatment room. Please turn off your cell phone. Some people are sensitive to strong scents and perfume; please refrain from using these until after your visit as they sometimes trigger allergic reactions or headaches for others.
Acupuncture is a PROCESS. It is very rare for any acupuncturist to be able to resolve a problem with one treatment. In China a typical treatment plan for a chronic condition could be acupuncture every other day for three months! Most of our patients don’t need that much acupuncture, but virtually every patient requires a course of treatment, rather than a single treatment, in order to get what they want from acupuncture.
One big reason that we are able to keep our prices so low is because of the extraordinary amount of marketing our patients do on our behalf—we don’t have to advertise. We cannot express how grateful we are for this. Our patients are such effective marketers because they have the first-hand experience of how well acupuncture works. All of our satisfied patients basically made a commitment to a course of treatment.
On your first visit your acupuncturist will suggest a course of treatment that can be anything from “we’d like to see you once a week for six weeks” to “we’d really like to see you everyday for the next four days.” This suggestion is based on our experience treating different kinds of conditions. If you don’t come in often enough or long enough, acupuncture probably won’t work for you. The purpose of our sliding scale is to help you make that commitment. If you have questions about how long it will take to see results, please ask us, or if you think you need to adjust your treatment plan, please let us know. We need you to commit to the process of treatment in order to get good results.
And last, but not least…. enjoy our space…we do, and hope that Watsonville Community Acupuncture can be an important part of your community.
The Staff at WCA