Specialists in pain treatment move from hospital offices to new clinic near Wal-Mart
By Elaine Williams
OF THE TRIBUNE
Two people with identical amounts of pain can experience vastly different levels of suffering. So says Mark Yama, a psychologist at Interventional Pain Consultants.
The symptoms that leave one person bedridden can be handled by another individual in a way that allows them to walk.
The one who can barely move, Yama says, is likely facing mental issues, such as stress and depression. Yama is part of the team the owners of the recently opened Interventional Pain Consultants have assembled to help patients live with chronic pain. The revised approach involves team meetings with Yama, doctors at the pain clinic, plus the patient’s family physician and physical therapist.
The doctors at Interventional Pain Consultants are Tom Grissom, Lyndal Stoutin, Craig Flinders, Gary Haas and Kirk White. All but White also practice at St. Joseph Regional Medical Center, where they anesthetize patients for surgeries.
To increase the amount of time the anesthesiologists have for pain mitigation, they’ve added another anesthesiologist, Frank Ditto, to Valley Anesthesia, the practice that handles the surgeries at the hospital.
Until now the pain clinic was at St. Joseph Regional Medical Center. The design and the staffing levels of the pain clinic allow the physicians to see about 50 patients a day, twice the number they saw when they were at the hospital. The clinic employs about 20.
"This is the most efficient and effective place for doing what we do anywhere in the Northwest," Grissom says.
Giving Yama an expanded role on the team is one of the innovations the clinic made with the move. Yama is on stipend at the clinic, so its doctors can send patients to him regardless of whether their medical insurance covers his services.
"I help people deal with the emotional consequences of pain," Yama says.
An injury responsible for pain often deprives people of their identities by making it impossible to work or enjoy hobbies like hunting, Yama says.
People understand that the loss of a parent or a spouse needs to be mourned, but they don’t realize that those who lose movement grieve in a similar manner, Yama says.
If the mental issues are treated, Yama says, the person can do much better, even if the intensity of the pain stays the same. Yama also treats patients with biofeedback therapy and hypnosis. Still, more traditional procedures represent the majority of the work at the clinic.
The most common complaint is back pain. The types of procedures the doctors perform are varied. Some patients have internal pumps surgically installed that allow painkillers to be released into their bodies. Administering medications in this manner carries fewer side effects, such as drowsiness, than if the medication was taken orally. Sometimes, the difference is so great patients, who couldn’t hold jobs go back to work, either because the pain is diminished or they’re alert enough to function effectively. By injecting bone cement, the physicians fix compression fractures sometimes caused by osteoporosis. The procedure lowers the patient death rates, which increases if the pain is left untreated.
The physicians also treat victims of shingles, a reactivation of chicken pox that may permanently damage nerves if left untreated.
Because of the pain, senior citizens suffering from shingles have the highest suicide rates of elderly patients, Grissom says. Interventional Pain Consultants is the first tenant of the Port of Lewiston’s Business and Technology Park, between Home Depot and Wal-Mart. Its address is 2841 Juniper Drive.
Dave Doeringsfeld, manager of the Port of Lewiston, says he is impressed by the architecture of the clinic. "They’ve built a marvelous facility that will set the standard for the development in the rest of the park."
The clinic occupies two acres of the 41-acre site in the park, but the medical insurance provider’s plans have been on hold for a number of months. The rest of the land is not earmarked for specific businesses.