ANMC Anesthesia department focuses on providing safe, innovative care for our people | Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium

ANMC Anesthesia department focuses on providing safe, innovative care for our people

November 25, 2019

ANMC’s Anesthesia department has grown significantly, recently expanding services and access for our patients. The complexity of surgical cases being seen at ANMC called for innovation in services provided, as well as continued coordination and communication among health care providers.

The ANMC Anesthesiology department has nine physician anesthesiologists and 45 Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNA) – three of our anesthesiologists and two CRNAs are Tribal members. In addition to anesthesia services for surgical procedures, the department cares for obstetrics patients during labor and cesarean sections.

Within the Anesthesiology service is ANMC’s Pain Management Clinic. The most common complaints from patients seen in the clinic are neck and back pain as well as widespread generalized pain. Dr. Phillip Weidner, who is an anesthesiologist and fellowship-trained pain provider, treats patients experiencing chronic pain. He doesn’t prescribe opioids – he is part of a growing wave of medical practitioners who are abandoning prescription-based practices, instead focusing on more holistic healing. Dr. Weidner performs procedures such as freezing/burning nerves, stimulating the spinal cord, and making non-opioid based recommendations.

Another recent example of the department’s innovation is a patient who had both of her breasts removed due to breast cancer. Typically, patients who undergo a double mastectomy experience an incredible amount of pain for a few days after their surgery. One of ANMC’s anesthesia providers used a peripheral nerve block to block pain from the breast for three days. This patient didn’t take any pain medications after her surgery or for the reminder of her hospitalization. These kinds of efforts to improve patient outcomes in regards to pain management require significant multidisciplinary coordination among health care providers.

Jonathan Waters, M.D., a Tribal member, is the Medical Director for the Anesthesiology department.

“ANMC performs approximately 20,000 surgical procedures annually – our physician anesthesiologists and CRNAs provide anesthesiology services in all of these procedures, carefully monitoring our patients while they are under anesthesia,” said Waters. “Our team is comprised of dedicated, hardworking clinicians who provide advanced care to our people every day.”

Related story: A pain clinic without opioids? Believe it.

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