OCOM’s New Integrative Health Partnership with Fora Health

After months of planning, OCOM is pleased to announce its growing partnership with Fora Health, a 92-bed center, providing medically managed acute withdrawal, residential treatment, and an expanding program of outpatient treatment. Fora Health (formerly De Paul Treatment Centers) is one of Oregon’s oldest and largest providers of residential and outpatient services for persons struggling with substance use.

Fora Health has a beautiful new building in Southeast Portland, built specifically to meet the needs of patients with substance use disorders (SUDs). Fora has separate wings for housing male and female identifying patients. They have a bright and welcoming kitchen and dining room, a gym, an art room, and a growing library! When I visited I was pleasantly surprised that I could view OCOM’s former location on Cherry Blossom drive from the front of their building.

Jennifer Hartley, PhD, MD, MSOM is the Director of Innovation and Special Projects at Fora Heath and is responsible for reaching out to OCOM to establish this relationship. Her experience as a NUNM student treating patients at Hooper Detox influenced the path of her career and gave her direct knowledge of the positive impact of having acupuncture interns treat patients in a detox clinic. She wanted to provide a similar opportunity for OCOM interns and the patients at Fora Health.

OCOM interns are treating both inpatient and outpatients at Fora with community-style group acupuncture with a focus on auricular and scalp acupuncture. The clinical supervisor, Heather Heatlie, MAcOM, LAc, has years of experience working with patients with SUDs while at Outside In, and currently treats patients with chronic illness such as HIV and Hepatitis C at the Immune Enhancement Project in Portland.

The response from Fora’s patients and staff regarding the OCOM student acupuncturists has been overwhelmingly positive. Patients greatly appreciate having another tool to help them on their road to health and recovery. OCOM plans to expand their relationship with Fora by providing community outreach opportunities where OCOM students can teach short qigong and taiji classes on a weekly basis. Dr. Hartley also envisions “pop-up clinics” providing opportunities for the Fora staff to experience acupuncture or learn about Chinese medicinal food or growing medicinal herbs in their new garden space.

I provided a lecture presentation as part of Fora’s “New Horizons in Substance Use Treatment” virtual lecture series, educating staff about the history of acupuncture and its application for substance abuse disorders. The doctors, therapists, and a wide variety of support staff in attendance were enthusiastic and had some great, insightful questions regarding the use and safety of acupuncture in an inpatient setting. In the future, there is the possibility of joint research opportunities between Fora and OCOM to explore the outcomes of somatic based care for their patients, and we are all very excited about that.

To learn more about Fora Health, visit their website: https://forahealth.org/our-story/

Katherine Annala, MAcOM, LAc
Interim Associate Dean of Clinical Education
Oregon College of Oriental Medicine (OCOM)