Community Acupuncture makes therapy affordable

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Hannah Beachy, owner of Springs Community Acupuncture, has hired acupuncturist Molly Fread, seen giving treatment to a patient.

Springs Community Acupuncture

Owner: Hannah Beachy

Location: 2828 W. Colorado Ave.

Phone: 464-5211

Cost: $15 to $35 per visit

When Hannah Beachy decided to pursue a master’s degree in Oriental medicine and a career in acupuncture, she just knew she would love it.

It wasn’t until she was about to graduate from Southwest Acupuncture College in Boulder with close to $100,000 in debt that she realized she would have to come up with a good business plan if she was going to make her dream work.

“Most people coming out of school and starting practices are geared toward the higher end,” she said. “But I thought, how am I going to market a service I don’t even think I could afford myself?”

That’s how Beachy came to establish the fast-growing Springs Community Acupuncture on the Westside. It’s a volume business that focuses on making treatment affordable by offering acupuncture in a group setting.

The average appointment at a typical acupuncture clinic ranges in price from $60 to $120, she said.

That’s too much if someone needs to go in for regular treatments. And there aren’t many insurance plans that cover Eastern medicine. She charges only $15 to $35 on a sliding scale.

Beachy was keeping her eye out for a better way when she discovered community acupuncture.

The model is not new. It’s how most people in Asia access acupuncture, Beachy said. One acupuncturist can treat multiple patients at once, as they fill several recliners in a single room.

“I always knew I wanted a community-oriented practice,” Beachy said.

Seeing the community acupuncture model, she knew that was where she wanted to go with her business. It wasn’t because she thought she could make more money doing it that way. The profit margins are tight, she said. But it’s a style she believes in.

“Acupuncture is amazing,” she said.

Measuring the body’s energy and meridians, she inserts tiny needles into strategic points to alleviate stress, anxiety and pain. Acupuncture has proven to be an effective treatment for problems like sciatica, depression, allergies, gastrointestinal issues and conditions like fibromyalgia that Western medicine hasn’t been very good at tackling, Beachy said.

She takes pride in being able to help more people access that kind of care.

She joined the People’s Organization of Community Acupuncture, which aims to broaden the more-accessible business model. Community clinics are currently clustered on the coasts and in major cities in the Southwest. The Southeast has just a handful.

POCA has created a community for community acupuncture practitioners and patients, complete with health insurance, micro-lending for new clinics, scholarships and plans to establish a more affordable school and continuing education program.

Once Beachy knew she wanted to start a community acupuncture business, the next step was finding the right location. Originally from Indiana, she went to school in Durango and Boulder. She wanted to stay in Colorado, but there were already so many acupuncture clinics in Boulder, Fort Collins and Durango, and even Denver.

But Colorado Springs was a different story.

“No one else was doing this here,” she said.

There are a few acupuncture clinics in town, but none offering the community model.

Springs Community Acupuncture is located in a quaint, converted Victorian home at 2828 W. Colorado Ave. There’s a small waiting room with a receptionist station, a little office to the side for new patient interviews and a big, dimly-lit room filled with eight soft recliners.

The warm room smells of eucalyptus with soft Asian music playing over the sound of waterfalls and tropical birds. Though as many as eight people share the space at a time, it’s silent. Patients quietly rest, likely napping, with fine needles sticking out from their foreheads, arms and feet.

“I have people come in and say they have 15 minutes and want to do a treatment,” Beachy said. “They’re in and out. Others stay and sleep for two hours.”

There’s no limit to how long patients can stay. Beachy said she doesn’t see any difference in the treatments’ effectiveness.

Beachy’s decision to move into Colorado Springs was studied. She didn’t have any close friends or family here, though her mother lives in Pueblo. She moved to Colorado Springs because she saw a city with a big population and the right middle- and slightly lower-income demographics that would allow a business like hers to succeed and her to help more people.

She opened in July 2011 and brought on another acupuncturist, Molly Fread, in August of this year. Beachy plans to hire a new graduate in December. They have a customer base of 600 with new people coming in every week. She hasn’t advertised other than putting a “two-for-one Wednesdays” sign in front of the office on Colorado Avenue and a few flyers around town.

“It’s mostly been word-of-mouth,” she said.

Some patients have tried acupuncture before and knew it worked, but couldn’t afford it. The majority, though, had never tried it before, she said.

“We’re right on the verge of needing to grow,” Beachy said.

The little Victorian is becoming too small. Beachy said she’s keeping an eye out for a new location, but wants to stay in the same area.

She imagines one day in the near future having multiple locations throughout the city.