In this video, Jenna Pataluna, PA-C, describes what a first-time pain management patient can expect at Blue Ridge. A transcript from the interview has been edited and included below.
Do patients typically need a referral to get an appointment?
Yes and no. If patients are being referred from a provider within Blue Ridge they don't need a referral; we can access all of their records, imaging on our own. If a patient is being referred from an outside provider, we do need their records prior to seeing them to review.
Is there anything patients need to bring at their first appointment?
If they have any prior imaging or reports, that’s always helpful to us. We do have the capability of taking x-rays in office but it’s always nice to have something to compare to if we are able to.
Will patients always see a doctor at the first appointment?
Not necessarily. There is Colleen McElhinney and myself who are both pain management PAs. We do most of the first appointments. Dr. Heller is available if we have any questions or need his advice. Patients do have the option of waiting for an appointment with him but he does book out a little bit.
When patients come in for their first appointment what should they expect?
So we take thorough histories and then we also do exams to kind of formulate the best treatment plan for the patient. We want to know how long the pain has been going on what has caused it any history leading up to the event. We also look at imaging so if they've had imaging we can look at that or we'll take them in office. The treatment plan there's vast different types of treatments for chronic pain so we'll come up with a good treatment plan for you.
Should patients expect to receive any type of treatment at their first appointment?
So there are options to treat patients that day in office. For instance if a patient's coming in for a severe back or neck pain we can do a trigger point injection in office. If their knee pain is flared up we can do a steroid injection that day as well.
Other types of treatments do need to be approved by insurance or it has to be scheduled. Like injections with Dr. Heller under fluoroscopy or physical therapy. Also we give the scripts to the patient so they can schedule that obviously
that's not typically done the same day.
If a patient can't get treatment that day then what would happen?
Then they would be scheduled accordingly for the injection or they can fill the prescription that we prescribe if we do and then also they would just work on their own treatment plan that we put together until their next appointment.
What happens after the first appointment?
So they would do whatever we talk about in regards to treatment whether or not it's waiting for an injection with Dr Heller, do their physical therapy with a home exercise program, take the medications, wait for the MRI results if we order them for the next steps.