A new community acupuncture clinic in North Chattanooga offers low-cost care on a walk-in basis.

"This is a way to offer treatment in an efficient format while keeping costs low," said Chad Dupuis, owner of Yin Yang House Acupuncture and Wellness Center on Tremont Street.

Typically, acupuncture is beyond the financial reach of many people. And with the economy on pins and needles - thousands of people laid off, home sales slowing, consumer goods sales dwindling - the need for affordable health care seemed urgent, Mr. Dupuis said.

A typical acupuncture session costs $60 to $120, said Mr. Dupuis, a licensed acupuncturist. The clinic charges $15 to $40, depending on the patient's income.

Across America, and in other countries, acupuncturists have begun opening similar low-cost clinics, Mr. Dupuis said. Their progress is charted on the Community Acupuncture Network Web site, which challenges practitioners to "stop complaining about what's wrong with health care in America and actually do something about it."

No clinics are listed in Georgia, Tennessee or Alabama. The Yin Yang House clinic is not yet listed, but will be, Mr. Dupuis said.

At the clinic, patients talk privately about their concerns, remove their shoes, roll up their sleeves and relax in a lounge chair.

The treatment takes at least half an hour. Patients may remain for the entire two-hour clinic, Mr. Dupuis added.

Jon-Michael Brown, a 26-year-old freelance videographer from Chattanooga, said he came to community acupuncture for help with celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder.

"I'm always open to being around more people, and the sliding scale is nice - I don't have tons of money," he said.

"It's a great space," agreed local artist Patricia Alfonso, who escorted a friend to the clinic, "and a wonderful offering to the community."

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