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From left to right: Dr. Karen Luparello, VP of Clinical Excel­lence & Engagement, Mark Gross, Chief Financial Officer, and Andy Beigner, cer­tified reg­is­tered nurse anes­thetist and fellow of the American Academy of Pain Man­agement. Rachel Lott | Courtesy

Hillsdale Hos­pital became a clinical training site for fellows of the Uni­versity of South Florida College of Nursing Pain Man­agement this past July. 

Andy Beigner, a cer­tified nurse anes­thetist at Hillsdale Hos­pital, said the fel­lowship program is designed for CNRAs who have com­pleted classes at the Uni­versity of South Florida and are ready to com­plete 120 hours of clinical work. 

“I’m looking forward to pro­viding knowledge, men­toring, and edu­cation to allow other people to care for patients with acute and chronic pain,” Beigner said. 

John Maye is a PhD CRNA and the director of the College of Nursing Pain Man­agement Fel­lowship Program. He began the fel­lowship program in 2016 to improve access to pain man­agement care in rural parts of America. 

“We hope that in a com­munity that’s very small, if somebody needs advanced pain care, that they don’t have to drive two hours and wait three months for an appointment,” he said. 

Maye added that Hillsdale is for­tunate to have the expertise of Beigner. He said smaller hos­pitals across the country are searching for people who are highly trained in pain man­agement care in order to limit the number of people exposed to opioids. 

“Offering alter­na­tives, other than a pre­scription for opioids, is the wave of the future, and it’s where things should be going,” Maye said.

Hillsdale Hospital’s first fellow will be CRNA Matt Rohlfs, who said he wanted to expand his skills after watching Beigner treat patients. 

“His expertise is second to none,” Rohlfs said in ref­erence to Beigner. “It’s an amazing service he offers people.” 

Rohlfs added that rural areas throughout Michigan are under­served. Beringer is one of two pain cer­tified CRNAs in the state. After com­pleting his classes and clinical work, Rohlfs would be the third.  

Before starting the pain man­agement clinic at Hillsdale Hos­pital in 2010, Beinger spent 22 years in the Navy – 20 of which he was a CRNA. 

As of right now, Beigner’s team con­sists of a reg­is­tered nurse and a clinical coor­di­nator. Together, the three see patients two to three days a week. Beigner said his goal is to bring that number up to three or four times a week. 

“Having a fellow come work with us isn’t going to nec­es­sarily increase my pro­duc­tivity,” Beigner said. “But [Matt] is looking to join my practice and become part of our team.” 

Rohlfs began working part time at Hillsdale Hos­pital in January 2018, but he cur­rently works full time at Henry Ford Alle­giance Health in Jackson. 

“I really enjoy the smaller hos­pital setting,” Rohlfs said. “You build a closer rela­tionship with your patients, and that’s some­thing you don’t get at the bigger hos­pitals.” 

Beinger said he treats all of his patients as if they are family and pro­vides mul­ti­modal, or mul­ti­dis­ci­plinary care. Under this type of care, Beinger works with his patients’ primary care providers to develop a treatment plan that may include: physical therapy, occu­pa­tional therapy, chi­ro­practics, acupuncture, or massage therapy. When it’s appro­priate, Beinger also helps patients improve their mental health. 

“There’s no ‘cookie-cutter’ method for taking care of patients,” he said. “Everyone is an indi­vidual, based on their assessment, imaging, and talking with that patient to find out what’s going on.” 

Looking ahead, Maye said he will be sending one or two fellows to Hillsdale Hos­pital each year for clinical work. Rohlfs will join Beinger in April 2020, upon com­pleting his didactic classwork at the Uni­versity of South Florida. 

Beinger also said he will receive another fellow during the summer of 2020. The fellows, Beinger expects, will spend three to four weeks training with him. 

Mayes said the program has had more than 70 grad­uates, and many of those grad­uates have gone back to work in rural com­mu­nities. This year the program will have 20 fellows placed at 12 dif­ferent clinical sites across the country. 

“I’m very happy to be part­nering up with places like Hillsdale to offer this service,” Maye said.