RWJBarnabas Health brings pediatric pain management program to West Coast

RWJBarnabas Health's Children's Specialized Hospital opened a pain management center on the West Coast. ( RWJBarnabas Health/Children's Specialized Hospital)

Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego announced a partnership with RWJBarnabas Health's Children’s Specialized Hospital that will bring its pediatric pain management program to patients on the West Coast.

The program—Children’s Specialized Hospital’s Chronic Pain Management—will now be available to patients in San Diego as well as other regions of Southern California and the southwestern U.S.

This will be the first inpatient children’s chronic pain program in Southern California and will align the expertise of both children’s hospitals.

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"The impetus behind starting a program on the West Coast came from a positive patient experience with a patient from San Diego," Warren Moore, president and CEO of Children’s Specialized Hospital, told FierceHealthcare. 

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"This experience made us recognize the lack of services and resources available to pediatric chronic pain patients across the nation," Moore said. "Through continued communication with this patient and his family, it became more and more apparent just how needed this program was not only for San Diego, but Southern California and the southwestern United States as well."

Children’s Specialized Hospital is at the forefront of chronic pain management, especially as it comes to a model of opioid- and medication-free alternatives. The program takes about 28 days and integrates physiatry, psychology, physical therapy and occupational therapy, officials said. Treatments include traditional clinical methods along with swimming, music, art, storytelling, yoga, massage, acupuncture and other healing arts. Patients can also work with specialists in neurology, behavioral health, rheumatology, orthopedics and gastroenterology.

The ultimate goal is to arm patients will tools to mitigate pain and learn alternative coping techniques. 

"The Chronic Pain Management Program allows us to address aspects of chronic pain through an approach that treats the child’s mind, body and spirit. All members of the multidisciplinary team including, but not limited to, medical specialists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, recreation therapists, psychologists and child life specialists address not only the underlying illness, but all aspects of how this illness has affected the child and their family’s day-to-day lives. This approach cannot be replicated in an outpatient setting because it requires extensive inpatient treatment," Moore said. 

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It's especially pertinent at a time when opioid prescriptions have been garnering more scrutiny as public health officials scramble to respond to an opioid addiction crisis.

According to the Children’s Specialized Hospital, the initiative reduced the number of ambulatory pediatric opioid prescriptions by 36% and ambulatory doses prescribed by 59% over a two-year period. In addition, using data collected between 2016 and 2017, participants reported an improvement in their condition by 81%, equating to a 41% improvement in quality of life.

Compliance with care improved by 89%, and depression improved by 57%. And at discharge, patients’ average pain level dropped from 6.6 to 3.9 on a scale of one to 10. 

“Particularly with such a young patient demographic, eliminating opioid prescriptions in pain management is critical in reducing overuse and abuse on a national level, and in providing patients with customized pain coping strategies to regain function and support long-term management and self-sufficiency,” said Anke Reineke, director of the Rady Children’s program, in a statement. 

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