Melissa is like most healthcare professionals. She simply wants to help patients feel better. But her patients often experience the kind of chronic pain that is debilitating and keeps them from living normal lives. “It’s so hard when patients have pain and they feel like nothing can be done,” she said. “I have friends and family who have suffered. It’s my personal goal to help them and give something back to my community.”
In pursuit of that goal, Melissa is embarking on a year-long journey that will combine academic instruction and hands-on clinical training. At the conclusion of her training, she’ll be certified in Nonsurgical Pain Management and will have earned her NSPM-C. The credential is offered only to nurse anesthetists and validates their advanced subspecialty knowledge.
Melissa is already a Certified Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) and works full time at Ringgold County Hospital. “About 85-90% of anesthesia in rural hospitals is provided by nurse anesthetists,” explained Melissa. “I came back to my hometown because I believe that patients deserve the same level of care here as in big cities. We’re keeping our care here.”
Ringgold County Hospital opened a Pain Management Clinic in November 2020. The clinic is staffed by RCH nurse anesthetist Melissa Friedrich and visiting nurse anesthetist Brian Jacobs. Melissa explained that by establishing the clinic, patients experiencing pain can be treated holistically, using a wide variety of approaches, not just by prescribing narcotics. “We’ll start with a full assessment to determine what’s causing the pain. Patients may need to change their eating habits, exercise, stop smoking, manage their weight, or work with a physical therapist to strengthen different muscles. There are a lot of options besides putting them on a narcotic and sending them out the door.”
“Pain management may also include establishing realistic goals,” added Melissa. “Then we give them the encouragement and the tools to help themselves heal.”
The Pain Management Clinic and Melissa’s training are results of a partnership with Midwest Integrated Pain Care in Des Moines. Brian Jacobs, MS, CRNA, NSPM-C, is Board Certified in Pain Management and Fellowship trained. He’ll be working closely with Melissa at the clinic and in other sites outside of Mt. Ayr. “Brian will be here once a month, and together we’ll see patients. I’m learning from him.” She’s appreciative of the opportunity that Ringgold County Hospital is giving her to train and establish the Clinic.
Appointments are being accepted now. Patients can visit with their primary care provider or call the clinic directly at 641-464-4433.