St. Vincent Healthcare will close its Billings Pain Center next January, hospital officials confirmed to MTN News Monday.
The center is the only one of its kind in Billings, offering treatment and medication to patients who suffer from chronic pain, according to the hospital's website.
Patients currently receiving treatment will shift to their primary-care physicians, according to St. Vincent's parent company, Intermountain Health. This strategy, according to Intermountain, allows patients to better integrate pain management with their primary-care physicians.
Those physicians will be able to prescribe pain medication, according to hospital spokesperson Mike Paquette.
Employees at the pain center will have the option of joining other Intermountain clinics, though the company did not say whether the move will result in net job losses.
The decision to close the pain center comes just days before St. Vincent's top executive in Billings, Jen Alderfer, is scheduled to leave her position for another role in Tennessee. Her last day is Oct. 20.
Her interim replacement is Bryan Johnson, the president of Intermountain Health's Western Colorado Market.
Here is the full statement from Intermountain Health on the closing of the pain center:
"Delivering high-quality care to those who need it most is both our mission and our promise. We remain steadfast in our commitment to ensure our communities have access to the right level of services in the right locations.
"The healthcare landscape has evolved dramatically in recent years and as we continue to align our approach to care with industry-wide best practices, Intermountain Health has made the decision to close the Billings Pain Center in January 2024.
"Ongoing pain management will shift from the pain clinic setting to primary care clinics. Patients will consult with their primary care providers for guidance regarding their pain management. This change underscores our belief in the importance of a direct and integrated approach to pain management, where the care journey is between the patient and their primary care provider. This patient-centric model facilitates a deeper understanding and personalized care pathway for pain management.
"Our pain center caregivers and staff will have the opportunity to join other Intermountain Health clinics and facilities."