For those suffering from chronic pain, relief is on the way.
Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital (KBRH) will soon be opening a Chronic Pain Procedural Clinic, in concert with fundraising efforts from the KBRH Health Foundation.
The foundation hopes to raise $160,000 for specialized equipment that Dr. Sri Kollipara, Anasethesiologist and Pain Management specialist through the FRCPC (Fellow of The Royal College of Physicians of Canada), and Interior Health staff will require in the treatment facility.
“The KBRH Health Foundation is proud to be supporting the Chronic Pain Service Project through its partnership with Interior Health,” said the foundation’s director of development, Lisa Pasin. “Bringing state of the art technology and services to the Kootenay Boundary will allow more patients who are experiencing chronic pain, to receive advanced care right here in our communities.”
Dr. Kollipara is a new addition to KBRH and the only doctor in Interior Health with a sub-specialty in chronic pain management.
“I am really happy to come to Trail and settle here, and work with the community and patients and to see how we can make it better,” Dr. Kollipara told the Times. “I’m definitely looking forward to it.”
While KBRH has offered pain treatment in the past, Kollipara’s unique talents have afforded the hospital the opportunity to create a full-time pain-treatment facility and improve quality of life for many Kootenay residents.
“Once pain starts, if it is not addressed properly, it gets chronic,” said Kollipara. “It actually causes more problems than when it has just started.”
Chronic pain has many causes and can be debilitating, leading to unplanned hospital admissions, increased emergency department visits, extended length of stay in hospital, and a reliance on pain medication.
Chronic pain poses harm to the endocrine, metabolic, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal and immune systems, often leading to increased stress, anxiety, depression, mental health issues and addictions.
“Once it gets chronic it can affect patients and families due to the emotional problems it causes due to loss of income or economic reasons, and also the social dynamics, because someone cannot do what they were doing before.”
Studies show that 50 per cent of the population will suffer from pain, and 20 per cent develop chronic symptoms.
While many pain related problems are strictly biological and often caused by spinal chord trauma in which surgery is required, other forms of chronic pain transcend the physical.
Pain specialists like Kollipara use the biopsychosocial model, with the view that the pain is a psychophysiological behaviour pattern that cannot be categorized into biological, psychological, or social factors alone.
Chronic pain sufferers are often impacted by a combination of physical, mental, emotional and social incidents; so for many, the physical wound may heal, but the pain associated with it continues.
When patients are referred to the clinic, Dr. Kollipara and his team will interview, examine, and address their concerns, but he underscores the importance that it is a cooperative effort.
“They have to understand their pain, and be actively involved in the self-management program,” he said.
“Getting them moving is the most important thing, so for them to understand they are at no harm as long as they can move. To drive that point and make them understand, then to follow the process, that is where the treatment lies for most of the patients.”
Kollipara expects the Chronic Pain Clinic to be up and running in three to six weeks.
He notes the clinic will evolve, and expects ultimately to have a multi-disciplinary team that is coordinated, accessible and effective, and includes the primary and community care team members and Indigenous partners.
In addition, Kollipara is both grateful and impressed with the work of the health foundation.
“They’ve been great, to work on the cause and be able to set it up. Often when you’re waiting for funding to come in, it can take a longer time, so that’s where the foundation comes into play.”
The health foundation will outfit the clinic with a C-Arm table with foot controller, a radio frequency generator, 45 reusable probes to be used with the generator, and a spine positioning system.
Hil-Tech Contracting launched the KBRH Health Foundation’s Chronic Pain Service Project fundraiser last month with a generous donation of $5,100.
“Advancements in technology are key drivers of recruitment and retention of specialists, which is critical for our rural communities,” said Pasin. “No donation is too small and we encourage full support of our citizens and organizations in the Kootenay Boundary for this very important initiative.”
Dr. Kollipara’s wife, who is also a physician, will also be part of the pain clinic staff and is moving from Cranbrook to Trail at the end of the month. Dr. Kollipara says, they are thrilled to be living and working in Trail.
And Kootenay residents, all the better for it.