Dayton health center adds acupuncture to services

FILE
Caption
FILE

A Dayton community health center is adding acupuncture to its services, in another example of a local provider broadening options for treating pain.

Five Rivers Health Centers, headquartered at 2261 Philadelphia Drive, just started offering acupuncture for its regular patients that could benefit from the treatment, including patients with sickle cell anemia.

“Especially for chronic pain what it is supposed to do is reduce the pain levels so you are having more better days than bad days and maybe reduce your reliance on pain medication,” said Dr. Mamle Anim, chief medical officer at Five Rivers.

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One of the types of specialty care the center provides is for adults with sickle cell disease, which is a of group blood disorders primarily inherited by African Americans which can cause acute or chronic pain. Anim said acupuncture could be an option for sickle cell patients as well as other patients with certain types of pain.

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
Caption
Mamle Anim, Five Rivers Health Centers

Credit: HANDOUT

Credit: HANDOUT

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.

RELATED: Ohioans with Medicaid can see acupuncturist for pain in 2018

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.