Garrett Regional Medical Center (GRMC) and Potomac Valley Hospital (PVH) will both be the site of Integrative Pain Centers that will help patients struggling with chronic pain find relief through alternative treatment methods. The centers will be the result of the hospitals being awarded a $600,000 grant last month through the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Federal Office of Rural Health Policy.
The clinics were conceived through a partnership between the two hospitals aimed at dramatically limiting the use and availability of opioids in the region. A goal of the centers is to help reduce the number of opioid prescriptions in the area through the use of alternative approaches to pain management. Patients will also have access to ancillary services shown to have an impact on reducing patients’ pain severity and frequency.
GRMC and PVH also partnered in the grant application with West Virginia University Medicine, with which GRMC is clinically affiliated and PVH is owned.
“We are very pleased and excited to be given this opportunity by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy,” said Mark Boucot, President and CEO of both Garrett Regional Medical Center and Potomac Valley Hospital. “It is very difficult to secure these federal grants; however, I think that, in part, the innovative approach to addressing the opioid epidemic proactively was a key factor in the grant being awarded to us. The opioid crisis has taken a toll on so many Americans and Appalachian communities have been hit particularly hard. These clinics are being designed to take a proactive approach to limiting the availability of opioids in the community as well as preventing opioid addiction among patients struggling with pain, which is an approach that may seem obvious, however is not easy to achieve.”
The two clinics, one in Oakland and the other in Keyser, will accept patients referred from area physicians and will provide holistic approaches to treatment. Treatments will include nerve blocks, SPG blocks, Botox injections, spinal cord stimulation, and radio frequency ablations, among other approaches.
One of the important aspects of these centers is the focus on education and training. Potomac Valley Hospital recently sponsored a CRNA, Kellon Smith, MHS, CRNA, NSPM-C to become a board certified Non-Surgical Pain Management Specialist. Mr. Smith is the first CRNA in West Virginia to be board certified in this field, of which there are only 60 in total in the entire nation. Because of the additional training he received through Harvard Medical, he will be one of the only providers in the region offering unique procedures like craniofacial injections, along with spinal injections to relieve back pain.
In addition, the clinics will offer access to ancillary services shown to have a positive impact on the severity and frequency of pain, including acupuncture, massage therapy, and meditation. Counseling services and consults with certified dieticians will also be part of the program. The design for patient treatments will be to identify the root causes of the pain in order to effectively address the real problems versus the symptoms.
For those patients whose conditions respond only to opioid-based drugs, the Integrative Pain Centers will work with such patients to help monitor their opioid intake while encouraging them to participate in the ancillary services. The hope for such patients is to significantly limit their need for opioids and keep their dosages low and highly monitored as they go through treatment.
“It’s important that our patients feel we are listening to them and helping them find solutions,” Mr. Boucot stated. “The impact of pain on a person’s life can be devastating. Our goal is to help our patients feel they have some control over what they are experiencing, and to help them recover as much as possible. In the end, though, I just believe it is incumbent on our leadership team at these two hospitals to help find solutions to prevent the proliferation of opioids in our region. GRMC was blessed to receive the grant that allows for treatment programs, but I now feel even more so to have the ability to start a programmatic response that will help prevent this opioid crisis from perpetuating. This crisis has been a real disaster in America today and no family is immune. Just about everyone I know is aware of someone that has suffered with addiction, or worse has been a casualty to this devastating crisis. So we strive for something better, and we continue to work to push back the darkness of this crisis and shine a light of meaning on these tragedies we’ve lived through. I am honored to be part of such a dedicated and talented team of leaders that wants to do something about it, and wants to make a difference.”
The first clinic will open in Keyser at PVH sometime in the fall. The other clinic in Oakland will open later this year.