Clinics offer a gateway to holistic health

A Renaissance Health offers clinics at a discount
by: John Klicker, Cynthia Conlin, an acupuncturist for A Renaissance Health center for natural medicine in downtown Gresham, inserts needles into a patient’s points on the head, left, and wrist, below, Thursday, April 27.

Wellness-oriented health care appeals to many, but acupuncture, chiropractic, massage and other alternative treatments often extend beyond the reach of pocketbooks and insurance coverage.

A Renaissance Health in downtown Gresham offers an affordable pathway to holistic therapies as well as free health screenings for some patients.

Through 'Your Community Clinic,' held on Wednesdays and Thursdays, the natural medicine center and health spa on Miller Avenue offers chiropractic adjustment, acupuncture treatment, massage therapy and physical therapy for $30 to $35 and a full doctor's visit for $50. As a participant in the state-funded Oregon Breast and Cervical Cancer Program, Renaissance also provides free breast and cervical cancer screenings, pap smears and blood-pressure checks to qualified women age 40 and older.

For A Renaissance Health owner Ana Squellati, providing services for lower-income patients and those without insurance is essential to her devotion to holistic wellness.

'We have lot of people who call the clinic who don't have insurance or don't have a lot of money,' she said. 'We feel they should have some access at some level to have these kinds of treatments. That's kind of our giveback to the community. Otherwise (people) may never get to have that opportunity.'

Held Wednesdays from 5 to 7:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 1 to 3 p.m., Your Community Clinic allows patients without insurance or whose income is less than $2,000 a month ($2,800 for a two-person family) a chance to experience the soothing environs of A Renaissance Health and its five clinicians. The center combines traditional healing - naturopathic doctors, herbalists, acupuncturists and massage therapists - with a full-service health spa, featuring water therapy, facial wraps and skin scrubs in a calming, luxurious environment.

The clinic's discounted offerings bring in customers who may have otherwise been skeptical or skittish about non-traditional medicine. The tasteful, relaxing non-clinical decor throws off some newcomers at first.

'Sometimes they'll come in and say, 'Am I in the right place?' or 'Oh, it's so nice in here,' ' Squellati said. 'We're helping to empower people to feel better.'

Squellati applies Oregon's formula for its free breast and cervical cancer screenings to the clinical offerings, which include patients with income up to 250 percent above the poverty line.

'We have a lot of different people who come in financially unable to pay for health care who then find out we have this program,' she said. 'We've had a lot of women come through who would have otherwise fallen through the cracks.'

The Oregon Breast and Cervical Cancer Program reimburses clinics like Renaissance for their screenings and subsequent treatments. Approximately 7,000 eligible individuals receive the services throughout the state each year.

Squellati fully supports the program, which she began participating in five years ago at her clinic's previous location. A Renaissance Health moved to its current downtown Gresham location in spring 2006. Women 40 and older within the income guidelines can schedule a screening appointment anytime during regular hours.

'There is no excuse for any woman over 40 not to be screened for cancer,' she said, adding she gets screening patients from as far away as Bend.

Renaissance acupuncturist Cynthia Conlin said she believes acupuncture is an ideal approach for treating issues ranging from anxiety to diabetes. It goes beyond treating the obvious symptoms.

'Acupuncture is a whole system of medicine to help you stay well,' she said, adding that health insurers are becoming more interested in covering the technique, as well as other holistic medicine treatments. 'It's much less expensive for insurers.'

For Squellati, it's all about giving patients what they need to remain well.

'We really educate them about taking care of their whole selves,' she said, adding that integrating care with other physicians is a common practice. 'It's like a team approach.'

Your Community Clinic facts

A Renaissance Health center for natural medicine, 130 N.W. Miller Ave. in downtown Gresham, offers discounted holistic health treatments for certain patients at Your Community Clinic, from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays and 1 to 3 p.m. Saturdays. All treatments and doctor consultations cost between $30 and $50. The center also offers free breast and cervical cancer screenings, by appointment, to women age 40 and older. Call 503-665-2344 for an appointment or visit