Grant Application

Mark O’Hern, MD, UPMC McKeesport


Proposed Innovation

The greater Mon Valley/McKeesport community currently lacks a comprehensive inpatient or outpatient chronic pain management program. Patients struggle to access treatment from a pain specialist while local hospital emergency departments are overwhelmed by repeated visits from those patients seeking pain relief.

With funding from the Beckwith Institute, UPMC McKeesport will establish a comprehensive pain institute providing both inpatient and outpatient services to area patients. Led by chronic pain physician Zongfu Chen of UPMC East, the institute will feature a chronic pain nurse practitioner at UPMC McKeesport who will provide inpatient consultative support and work on an outpatient basis with area primary care practices. This project also will create a seamless referral process for patients from ED and primary care physicians for treatment of chronic pain.


Improvements in Action

MThe nurse practitioner (NP) will spend three months working with Dr. Chen at his practice in Monroeville to learn how to manage and treat patients with chronic pain. The NP will then make daily inpatient rounds at UPMC McKeesport and see patients in the afternoons at McKeesport area primary care practices.

In addition, the NP and Dr. Chen will provide community outreach through educational sessions at the hospital for area doctors and community members regarding treatment and referral to the institute. Sessions also will be held with emergency department staff to provide information on pain management and how to care for patients who come there for treatment.


Results – In Progress

The project is expected to achieve results similar to those experienced at the Chronic Pain Institute established four years ago by Dr. Chen at UPMC East, including:

  • Reduced emergency department visits for patients seeking pain management
  • Improved patient satisfaction and pain threshold scores
  • Significant health plan savings on pain service for McKeesport area patients
  • Improved primary care satisfaction

In addition, this project will serve as a model for other areas where chronic pain expansion is needed.