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Santa Barbara clinic makes acupuncture affordable and accessible for all

A clinic in downtown Santa Barbara may be one of the best kept secrets when it comes to eastern medicine.

Downtown Community Acupuncture is making the ancient alternative healing modality available to the masses.

“Community acupuncture is treating several people in one common area. There is no private room. Everyone is together,” said co-owner Laura Schlieske.

“Acupuncture has always been a community medicine in a sense, when it was started in Asia. It was considered an important part of health maintenance and that wasn’t the case here in the US,” co-owner Jennifer Potthast said.

Schlieske said Potthast sent her an email years ago broaching the subject of opening a community acupuncture clinic.

Both women owned private practices, but found it was becoming harder to treat patients as often as they needed because of the cost which insurance rarely covers.

“It’s very difficult when you have a private practice. A lot of people can’t afford that initial $80 to $100 payment,” Schlieske said.

Potthast found out about a community acupuncture clinic in Portland, Oregon which was the first to open in the country.

Potthast and Schlieske opened their clinic in 2009.

“It’s a growing movement. There are more community acupuncture clinics being opened all the time. It has revolutionized the practice in a sense,” Potthast said.

Payment is on a sliding scale with the client deciding how much they can afford.

“We charge $20 to $45 per treatment. The first visit is a $15 intake fee,” Potthast said.

The clinic has four practitioners, including Schlieske and Potthast who say acupuncture can treat many ailments.

“We treat a lot of pain, a lot of back pain, knee pain, shoulder pain and insomnia. Schlieske said. “We treat depression. We treat infertility. We have at least four babies under our belt.”

The clinic does not advertise, but has a loyal following spread through word of mouth.

“I’m just glad this clinic is here because without it, I probably wouldn’t be getting acupuncture,” said patient Kathie Organ.

Potthast and Schlieske said everyone can have access to good health when financial barriers are removed.

“Our hope is that every single person in the Santa Barbara area comes through our door,” Schlieske said.

To learn more about Downtown Community Acupuncture, click here.

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