Spokane Journal of Business

Providence launches pain management clinic at HF

Anesthesiologists head facility set up to work with referred patients

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Providence Health Care, of Spokane, says it has opened a pain management clinic at Holy Family Hospital on the North Side that's intended to be a resource for physicians with patients who are struggling to keep pain in check.

The Providence Pain Management Clinic is located in remodeled space on the north side of the Holy Family campus near the outpatient surgery admissions area. It includes a couple of consult rooms, a procedure room, and a recovery area that it shares with endoscopy services.

It's headed by board-certified anesthesiologists Drs. David N. Vanos and Jeffrey Welch, who have combined experience of more 32 years in their fields, Providence says. It also includes a full-time registered nurse who is knowledgeable about pain management techniques and assists the physicians in the care of patients during treatments.

"It's something I've wanted to do for many years," says Vanos, adding that he and Welch both have a desire to get more heavily into pain management services, due to perceived strong demand, and to scale back on anesthesia work.

The remodeled clinic space includes fluoroscopy equipment, computer equipment, monitors, and conscious-sedation capabilities, and also has access to a computed-tomography scanner at the hospital.

It serves patients with neck pain, thoracic (mid back or upper back) pain, and lower back pain, and also offers consultations for a chronic condition called complex regional pain syndrome and for phantom limb pain, among other pain concerns.

Most of the services the clinic provides are spine related and focused on delaying or reducing the need for surgery, the two doctors say. They say the demand for pain management services is rising, due partly to the fact that the average weight of Americans has increased over the years and also to the aging of the population, with baby boomers now reaching retirement age.

The treatments for pain, the doctors say, can include procedures such as epidural steroid injections, nerve root block injections, and radiofrequency ablation that basically shuts down a nerve's ability to transmit pain signals to the brain.

The creation of a Providence pain management clinic, based at Holy Family, evolved out of a consolidation of anesthesiology services within the Providence network here. Providence Medical Group of Eastern Washington announced earlier this year that it had acquired the two anesthesia groups that work at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center & Children's Hospital. The acquired practices were Physician Anesthesia Group PS, which operated at Sacred Heart, and Anesthesiology Inc., which was at Holy Family.

Providence has combined the two groups as Providence Anesthesia Services, which at the time of the consolidation employed 39 anesthesiologists and 94 certified registered nurse anesthetists. Providence Medical Group now includes more than 400 physicians and advanced practitioners.

Kim Crompton
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