SUDBURY, ON – Health Sciences North (HSN) received $750,000 today to support the implementation of an Integrated Chronic Pain Management Program. Glenn Thibeault, MPP Sudbury, was on hand to share the good news with medical and clinical team members who will lead the recruitment of the multi-disciplinary team and develop the service model.

HSN has had a robust Acute Pain Program in place for 15 years that serves the needs of hospital in-patients, predominantly those who have had surgery or suffered from traumatic injury.  It also runs an Interventional Chronic Pain Service that treats a small population of patients with various pain disorders by using more invasive techniques, such as nerve blocks and trigger point injections. These interventions require the involvement of chronic pain specialists.  

What is not currently in place is an interdisciplinary team and clinic space to complement the existing Pain Service, and address the many psychosocial and emotional aspects of chronic pain encountered in these complex patients. This funding will help expand the range of therapies offered, going beyond providing medication and injections to improve daily function and management of pain. 

“This funding is provided through the province’s Opioid Strategy and is further evidence that the Ontario government continues to take action and make significant investments to combat the opioid crisis.  The Ontario government is working hard to enhance community-based treatment options that help people in crisis and connect patients with appropriate treatment options,” adds Glenn Thibeault, MPP Sudbury.
“This enhanced capacity will provide expanded access to chronic pain sufferers and the best opportunity to have optimal pain relief, functionality and quality of life,” says David McNeil, HSN’s VP, Patient Services, Clinical Transformation and Chief Nursing Executive.  “Interprofessional management is recognized as the most effective, evidence-based approach to the complex biopsychosocial needs of the chronic pain population.  Our program will be staffed by physicians, registered nurses, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, kinesiologists, recreation therapists, psychologists and social workers, who utilize a cognitive-behavioural approach to assist participants in realizing personal treatment goals.”

“This provincial funding is essential to building a model that provides comprehensive patient-centred care and improves outcomes for patients living with chronic pain”, adds Dr. David Boyle, Anaesthetist/Critical Care Physician, and Medical Director of HSN’s Surgical Program. “Physician and clinician engagement is well underway, and is fundamental to the success of the patient journey throughout the continuum of care.”

Chronic pain is pain that persists beyond the expected duration of normal healing. It can result in individual and family dysfunction related to loss of roles as providers or partners. Loss of employment is a significant issue, both financially and socially.  Those with chronic pain are at increased risk of depression, mental illness and substance abuse.
Dr. Mike Franklyn, site lead of HSN’s Rapid Access Addictions Medicine Clinic (RAAM) has been providing community-based addictions services for over 15 years, and is also thrilled with the province’s support of an Integrated Chronic Pain Program.

“It has long been recognized that if we can assist people with other helpful therapies that go beyond the use of medication alone, we will be supporting efforts to reduce the overuse of opiates.  The delivery of services to individuals suffering from chronic pain is lacking in this region,” states Dr. Franklyn. “It is very encouraging that this provincial investment will enhance our ability to assist patients locally.  With the support of an interprofessional team, we are in a much better position to assist participants in realizing their personal treatment goals.” 

In addition to enhancing patient outcomes, the Program will offer valuable rotations for medical learners interested in enhancing their pain management skills. This Program also provides growing opportunities for research related to chronic pain management.

When the Program is up and running, it will receive referrals from primary care providers. Patients will be assessed by the multidisciplinary team, and a care pathway would then be implemented, with a goal to re-engage the patient back into the primary care system.  The Program will not only strengthen linkages with primary caregivers in the community, but will also provide collaborative care, and include a strong patient and family education program, to help participants understand the disorder and consequently, reduce anxiety, depression and substance abuse.