When reflecting on the past 10 years of practicing interventional pain management, Richard S. Epter, M.D., Medical Director of the Augusta Pain Center, remembers a patient who was bedridden due to chronic pain. That was until her daughter discovered the Augusta Pain Center. After three months of treatment, the woman was able to get out of bed and through continued therapy, regained her mobility and her life.
“Hearing our patients talk about how their pain interventions and therapies positively impact their lives is one of the most satisfying aspects of our practice,” says Dr. Epter. “It is so fulfilling to learn that someone is able to function and be a part of their family again because of the care they have received.”
Dr. Epter’s current practice began in 2001, in an office with just two employees. Since then, the practice has grown considerably. The dedicated staff that now exceeds more than 20 employees, has been specially trained to deal with the problems and issues encountered by chronic pain patients. The setting has also changed, as the Augusta Pain Center relocated in March 2010, into a state-of-the-art, modern facility that offers a multidisciplinary individualized approach for each patient’s needs.
Answering the Need
With the increasing demand for pain management services over the past 10 years, the Augusta Pain Center responded by integrating physical therapy, aquatic therapy and behavioral management along with minimally invasive interventional procedures and medication management all under one roof. “Our unique facility is designed to optimize a patient’s outcome because of the unified approach by the various modalities. We all focus to improve the patient’s function.”
The most recent developments at the Augusta Pain Center include the addition of Dr. Stefan Erceg and Dr. William Schiff. Dr. Erceg is an interventional pain physician board certified in anesthesiology. He trained at Yale University and completed his pain fellowship at Vanderbilt University. He brings further expertise in various areas of interventional pain management. Dr. Schiff is a clinical psychologist who brings his expertise in managing the behavioral aspects that are normally associated with chronic pain. His vast experience with both individual and group counseling, as well as psychometry, adds one of the essential modalities so important for the care and best outcomes of patients suffering from chronic pain.
While the Augusta Pain Center participates in community education through lectures and health and wellness expositions, Dr. Epter also has an appointment at the Georgia Health Sciences University/Medical College of Georgia and assists in training pain fellows as well as physicians from across the United States and abroad. He has served as President of the Georgia Society of Interventional Pain Physicians, as well as various committees at the state and national level, including the Interventional Pain Management Guidelines Committee for the American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians.
The Next 10 Years
“As we look toward the future, the primary goal in interventional pain management is to continue to provide chronic pain patients access to care. Our goal at the Augusta Pain Center, in addition to patient access, is to also maintain the highest quality of care for those experiencing chronic pain.”
Every summer the leading national pain organization, the American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians, holds its annual meeting in Washington, DC. During this conference, pain physicians from across the country present issues to Senators and Congressmen regarding healthcare for chronic pain patients as well as the general population. Legislative issues that could limit patient care or no longer allow treatments with proven efficacy are also addressed.
“I have always strived to continue learning more treatments that can help our patients. Caring for chronic pain patients can be quite challenging due to the complexity of the different pain problems that exist. My future goal for treating pain patients is to increase the available treatment options I can offer, so when pain is refractory to the initial treatments, there is still hope,” says Dr. Epter.
To learn more about the Augusta Pain Center or to refer a patient, visit www.augustapaincenter.com or call (706) 738-7246.