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Pain Medicine and the Community

February 24th, 2017

Pain Medicine and the Community
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Pain medicine physicians Jakun Ing, MD, MPH, Eric Hsu, MD and George Pan, MD.

Though we don’t always connect the field of anesthesiology with community health, five of our pain specialists – Drs. Eric Hsu, Jakun Ing, Chrystina Jeter, George Pan, and Michael Sniderman – showed us how to make that connection on February 16, at UCLA Health’s 11th annual “I Heart Walking” event, a health fair for employees.

Working in tandem with our Chief Administrative Officer, Stephanie Fisher, and Program Manager Shevaughn Marchese, the anesthesiologists staffed a busy table all day, explaining to employees about the field of pain medicine, and how they manage pain while minimizing the use of harmful opioids. They also pointed out to many surprised employees that pain management services are available at satellite UCLA clinics as well as in Westwood.

“People didn’t even know we existed,” Dr. Sniderman said. “They were shocked!” Many UCLA Health employees said they receive all their health care at Westwood, even though they live close to a UCLA Health clinic in a suburban location, he explained. They were happy to find out that options are available closer to home.

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I Heart Walking attendees got the chance to meet our Pain Medicine physicians, including Dr. Chrystina Jeter.
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Dr. George Pan, who practices pain management in Santa Clarita, answered questions at the event.

While Dr. Hsu – an expert in acupuncture -- practices at the main Santa Monica location, and Dr. Ing is usually at Westwood, Dr. Pan sees patients at the Department of Medicine’s outpatient clinic in Santa Clarita. Drs. Jeter and Sniderman have recently joined our department and opened a pain medicine practice at the new UCLA Health clinic in Torrance.

There is much more to the field of pain medicine than prescribing pain pills, the physicians emphasized. They explained the role of multimodal analgesia and of sophisticated interventional procedures to treat pain. They played videos on continuous loop to demonstrate epidural analgesia and other techniques.

“It was nice to be able to say no, I’m not an Oxycontin dealer!” Dr. Sniderman said. As opioid abuse has become a national crisis, high-quality pain management plays a critical role in keeping patients safe from the cycle of escalating need for opioid medications.

“This where the field of anesthesiology can truly contribute to population health,” said Aman Mahajan, MD, PhD, the department chair. At a panel discussion at last fall’s annual meeting of the American Society of Anesthesiologists, Dr. Mahajan highlighted UCLA’s new model of placing anesthesiologists who specialize in chronic pain in community clinics, working directly with primary care physicians. They provide diagnostic as well as interventional services in the clinics, treating painful conditions early before they evolve into opioid addiction or chronic pain.

Visitors to the anesthesiology table competed for insulated water bottles by playing the classic “Operation” board game, trying not to set off alarms as they removed game pieces with tweezers. No one left empty-handed, however, as souvenir heating/cooling packs were available for everyone to take home.

Karen Sibert, MD

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