About 70 percent of patients at Five Rivers pay with Medicaid, so the Ohio Department of Medicaid helped pave the way for the new program when it broadened its rules to cover the acupuncture for migraines and lower back pain when performed by not only physicians but also acupuncturists and chiropractors. Five Rivers is also paying for part of the program with a grant.
The department made the changes to its rules because the practice of acupuncture — using thin needles at certain points in the body to release natural pain-killing endorphins — could be one way to replace opioid prescriptions with other types of treatment that don’t have the possibility to become addictions.
Mamle Anim, Five Rivers Health Centers
Anim said acupuncture will be open to the center's patients who have a primary care physician with Five Rivers and want to add acupuncture sessions as a part of their treatment. The health center is set up as a patient-centered medical home, which is a delivery model where health care is coordinated through a primary care physician that the patient has an ongoing relationship with.
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Dr. Vanessa Edwards, a naturopathic medicine practitioner in Dayton, will be working with Five Rivers to provide the acupuncture services. Edwards will have regularly scheduled group sessions at Five Rivers and also work with patients on destressing activities while she is holding her clinics.
Anim said Edwards was recommended by a Five Rivers board member who is also a patient and the treatment option could be a way to treat chronic pain without turning to narcotics.
Anim said she plans to check in with patients to ask how pain has impacted their life and see whether over time their answers change with the help of acupuncture.