NMC Commentary

Is NMC Changing Northwestern Comprehensive Pain?

Yes. Leaders within NMC, our medical staff, and the Comprehensive Pain practice have been working  together to enhance how we treat both chronic pain and addiction.  Changes in the focus of our Comprehensive Pain practice and in our community’s protocol for treating chronic pain are resulting.  Here is a summary from Dr. Lowrey Sullivan, NMC’s Chief Medical Officer, regarding these changes:

“In keeping with the evolution of best practice regarding the treatment of patients with chronic pain, NMC is converting the Northwestern Comprehensive Pain Clinic into a practice solely devoted to patients who need treatment for addiction.  We will be renaming the practice to indicate that focus appropriately. Patients currently being treated at the practice who are not in treatment for addiction will be working with Michelle Kearney, PA, on an appropriate transition of care.  This change will facilitate more integrated coordination of care for patients with chronic pain within Primary Care and create more opportunities for addiction treatment in our area.”

“Nationally, care for chronic pain is being reintegrated into primary care settings. The University of Vermont Medical Center recently changed their model in this manner.  As we prepare to do the same, we recognize the need for a standard treatment protocol for pain across our community and professional education to support that protocol.  A multi-disciplinary team of specialists from our local medical staff is developing that standard treatment protocol based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations, including: Dr. Judy Fingergut of Northwestern Primary Care; Dr. Michael Barnum of Northwestern Orthopaedics and Rehab; Dr. Suzan White of Northwestern Comprehensive Pain; Michelle Kearney, PA, of Northwestern Comprehensive Pain; and myself.”

“In October, national experts from Boston University presented a formal Continuing Medical Education (CME) program on ‘SCOPE – Safe and Competent Opioid Prescribing Education.’ This program was strongly attended by members of our medical staff.  Experts have been engaged to assist in the creation of treatment plans. This transition will be complete by January 1, 2019.”

Best practice approach to the treatment of chronic pain continues to evolve and we must evolve with it. The issue of opiate addiction is one of the top health priorities in our community and we as a medical community must continue to play a leading role in both the treatment and prevention of addiction. I am proud of the work these leaders on our staff and our medical staff are doing to align care in our community with evolving best practices.

— Jill Berry Bowen, RN, NMC’s Chief Executive Officer