Rising health care costs strain pain management

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Patients are scrambling to figure out what’s next as a West Michigan pain management provider plans to close its doors.

In a letter sent to staff Friday, Michigan Pain Consultants said it will close its Wyoming, Muskegon and Big Rapids locations Friday. Remaining locations in Grand Rapids, Greenville and Holland will close by September.

Michigan Pain Consultants to close later this year

The group said in the letter it can’t sustain its practice because of “rising costs and changes in the healthcare market.” In an emailed statement to News 8, the provider confirmed the news and blamed a “difficult climate facing independent pain management practices” for the closure.

Michigan Pain Consultants is not alone in facing these issues.

“The rising costs of health care… I think every facility in the country is feeling the stress and strain of the rising costs across the board in every specialty area,” said Dr. Kevin Furlong, the interim chief medical officer for University of Michigan Health-West, which has a pain management clinic in Ionia.

Furlong said chronic plain is complex and a comprehensive program is required to meet all of a patient’s needs.

“As a comprehensive program, I think (Michigan Pain Consultants) may have been feeling the stresses of being able to provide all those different services — from the mental, physical and social well-being of all those patients — to provide that appropriate care, especially in a climate when we’re trying to get away from chronic narcotic use or overuse of those medications,” he said.

Furlong explains a multifaceted approach requires many resources and many employees to improve a patient’s complete well-being. It’s not as easy to do amid rising costs.

“The goal would be to provide not just pain relief, not just an injection, but also being able to provide those patients with dietary education and physical therapy and all of those extra things that go into helping not only healing the current injury, but maybe prevent future injuries as well,” Furlong said.

Furlong said patients can contact their primary care physician for a referral to UM Health-Sparrow Ionia Pain Management on South Dexter Street in Ionia. The clinic has a physician, dietary therapist, physical therapist and care managers leading their approach to managing chronic pain, Furlong said. That location is open Tuesday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Prospective patients can call 616.523.1505 to be connected.

Michigan Pain Consultants says it’s working closely with several local pain management specialists and providers to refer current patients. Patients can contact 616.317.3877 or email clinicaloperations@michiganpain.com to request their records or get them sent to another practice.

The provider’s statement to News 8 also says its patients can continue to schedule appointments and access its pain management services. But as of Monday, the provider is no longer doing interventional pain procedures, according to the letter sent to staff.

News 8 contacted several patients on Tuesday who voiced concern over their future receiving pain management services, but none agreed to speak about their experiences on camera.

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