Department Spotlight: Special Procedures

By: Alana Ridge

February 01, 2024

The Special Procedures Pain Management team at Renown Health pose for a group photo at Renown Rehabilitation Hospital.

Chronic pain can be one of the most distressing feelings someone may encounter – and more likely than not, you know someone who is managing their pain as a part of their healthcare journey. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1 in 5 U.S. adults have experienced chronic pain in recent years. One of the most common methods of treating pain is through prescription pain medications; however, with the rise of the opioid epidemic across the country, leveraging other interventions to help patients manage their chronic pain has become increasingly more important. What if there was a way to treat pain directly without the automatic need for pain medication?

Luckily for patients in northern Nevada, our Special Procedures department at Renown Rehabilitation Hospital specializes in exactly that: interventional pain mitigation sans painkillers. With nearly 95% of their patients who come in with pain-related mobility issues being able to physically walk out of the hospital after their treatment, much-needed relief is clearly in store. Tight-knit and forever-caring, the Special Procedures team knows how to transform the purpose of pain management.

A Penchant for Pain Alleviation

Renown's Special Procedures team offers a wide variety of pain management solutions that are uniquely tailored to each individual patient’s needs. With the help of a team of 14 attentive nurses, interventional radiology technologists and a surgical technician – plus a dedicated patient access representative ensuring everything goes smoothly behind-the-scenes – these lifechanging interventions include:

  • Epidurals (including steroid epidurals)
  • Nerve blocks
  • Ablations
  • Tenotomies
  • Spinal cord stimulator trials
  • Peripheral nerve stimulator trials

The nurses on this specialized team guide patients before, during and after their procedures, making sure they are at ease throughout the entire process. Each nurse emulates both expertise and empathy to help light the path towards healing. 

“Before each procedure, we get the patient’s vitals, health history and work with the doctor to answer any questions they may have about what is going to happen in the procedure room,” said Michon Edgington, RN. “After they’re all done, they come back to me, and I make sure they are ready to go home by educating them on their discharge. Our goal is to get them back to their families very quickly.” 

“In the actual procedure room, we perform safety checks, do charting, prepare the sterile tray for the doctor and give medication for conscious sedations, all while consistently monitoring the patient and helping the doctor out along the way to help the procedure go well,” added Shannon Boelow, RN. 

This team’s dedicated imaging professionals harness expertise that goes beyond capturing images. Their skillful utilization of X-ray technology serves as a guide for doctors administering treatments for pain – and according to our own physicians, our imaging technologists are some of the best in the business. 

“Our X-ray skills here are specialized,” said Julie Smith, Imaging Lead. “Visually, the doctor needs to see what’s going on inside the body so they can accurately place needles and steroids. We all work together collectively and work with each doctor to accommodate their preferences, helping the treatments go much faster and minimizing the patient’s exposure to radiation.” 

Serving as the ideal representation of both precision and support, the surgical technician on this team is an important collaborator in the procedure room, helping to ensure the success of every interventional procedure with a meticulous eye for detail. 

“As the Special Procedures surgical technician, I get the room ready with all the necessary instruments, including making sure everything is sterile,” said Carrie Crow, Surgical Technician. “I enjoy keeping the team organized.” 

Overseeing it all are the physicians, who are eternally grateful for the team for the life-changing interventions they offer every day. 

“Our physicians are so phenomenal,” said Brittney Summerfield, Manager of Nursing. “They are very supportive and collaborative, and they always do the right thing. They have total confidence in us.” 

Seeing patients walk out of the hospital happy and healthy is a driving motivator for this team. Whether they had significant experience in pain management or were ready for a completely new challenge, each team member comes to work every day inspired to move mountains. 

“I had worked in pain management in other facilities, and I was extremely excited to come here and solely focus on pain,” said Jodi Eldridge, Supervisor of Special Procedures. “I enjoy seeing the patients so happy when they leave no longer in pain. I feel immediate gratification, because you truly feel like you’re doing something big for the patient. It’s very rewarding.” 

“I decided to come work here because I worked in the inpatient setting for a long time, and I was ready to see a different side of healthcare and provide a different type of care to our community; plus, my coworkers are the best,” added Lisa Dunnivant, RN. 

There’s no question that the realm of pain management is a delicate one – and there is no team better suited to take on that challenge than Special Procedures, working harmoniously to bring relief and a renewed sense of livelihood for every patient they serve. 

“Some people believe pain management is just all about pills, and that is simply not true,” said Carrie Crow. “Our procedures are yet another way to help them manage their pain and find relief.” 

When Work Family is Also Blood Family 

Renown Health is a special place for families in many different ways, especially among our employees. We are proud to have several team members who call their parent, sibling, aunt, uncle, cousin and more their coworkers. 

It’s rare, however, to have a team where the family members in question actually work together on the exact same unit. But leave it to the Special Procedures department to break that barrier, as they are happily home to a mother-daughter nurse duo, giving the “special” in Special Procedures a whole new meaning. 

“I came to this team because of my daughter Brionna,” said Kim Henricks, RN. “We worked together at Renown Regional, and when she came to Special Procedures, she told me, ‘Mom, you should come work with me again! I love this place!’ And the rest is history.” 

“My mom is right; once I met the Special Procedures team, I was sold,” added Brionna Kelly, RN. “Before I came to this team, I worked in pre-op and recovery for many years. My first introduction to pain management was as a per diem employee, and I really enjoyed that. I love seeing people have that rewarding experience of relief right after their treatment.” 

The family ties don’t stop there – this team consistently reiterates how close they feel, almost as though they were family to begin with. This feeling of family is so strong within this department that it even inspired one former patient to become an employee of the very team that helped her in her care journey. She was so moved by the care she received that she wanted to give back and be a part of it all for the long haul. 

“I was first brought here as a patient, and during my treatments, I really got to know everybody here,” said Jodee Elder, Patient Access Representative. “Between these wonderful people and Dr. Casey Keating, I knew I wanted to come here to work. The care they give their patients is amazing, so why not be a part of it?" 

Jodee isn’t the only team member who was inspired to come on board after interacting with Special Procedures; A.J. Blomquist, a radiology technologist on the team, wanted in on the action too. He was so impressed by this team that he was willing to wait years for the opportunity to join. 

“I was a per diem employee down at Renown South Meadows, but I worked in Special Procedures a few times, and that’s where I met imaging lead Julie Smith; that’s when I realized that this is the job I want,” said A.J. Blomquist. “I waited a whole two years for the job to open up, and the moment it did, I applied. That’s how great the job is.” 

Even retirees can’t get enough of this department. After decades of experience in healthcare, Special Procedures still calls them back home. 

“After a 48-year career as a nurse, I retired from Special Procedures, but I couldn’t stay away; I came back as a per diem nurse because of the team,” said Jules Pearce, RN. “I could not imagine coming back in any other environment. It’s the best place I’ve ever worked.” 

“I know for sure that I want to retire here,” added Julie Smith. 

The Special Procedures team doesn’t just say they are a family – they act like a family as well, with both each other and with their patients. In other words, the proof is in the proverbial pudding. 

“We not only celebrate Nurses Week, Radiologic Technology Week, birthdays, anniversaries, potlucks (we have excellent chefs on our team!), etc. as a unit; we also come together and chip in to make sure each employee feels celebrated individually,” said Brionna Kelly. “It’s important to us that everyone feels special.” 

“Everything is a celebration, and we truly uplift each other,” added Brittney Summerfield. “I had a baby recently, and this team threw me a baby shower. This is just one example of how we recognize each team member’s milestones and accomplishments. Everyone worked hard to be where they are.” 

“I remember one time on an employee’s birthday, one of our frequent patients went out of his way to walk all the way to the store to buy this employee a birthday cake, balloons and a banner – even though it was a stretch for him, he still did it, because he loved this employee,” added Michon Edgington. 

The Special Procedures team’s synergy is forever contagious – they not only navigate the complexities of interventional pain procedures together, but they also support each other in their mission to bring relief and healing to those in need, including each other. 

Existing for Impact 

The Special Procedures team is a hidden treasure with maximum impact. While relatively unknown to everyday eyes (until today!), the legacy they leave on patients experiencing pain is unmatched – and they want to expand that legacy as much as possible. 

“People don’t always know where we are or what we do,” said Brittney Summerfield. “But we are here to serve you!”  

This team stands as a testament to self-sufficiency, offering a unique and empowering alternative to conventional pain management. Their goal aligns perfectly with Renown Health’s mission: make a genuine difference in the health and wellness of everyone they serve. 

“We are very self-sufficient,” added Jodi Eldridge. “We are happy to provide an option to keep patients off pain medication and on the road to a faster recovery. We make a difference in people’s lives.” 

“We hear patients call us ‘miracle workers,’” added A.J. Blomquist. 

This commitment to personalized and empathetic care not only resonates within the walls of Renown Rehabilitation Hospital but also echoes in the feedback the team receives from patients. 

“Patients remember how much we care for them,” said Julie Smith. “For example, we’ll rub their legs during their procedure so they know we are there for them. Just knowing that someone is looking out for them provides them with a lot of comfort.” 

“It’s true – on the surveys we send to patients, they always mention how cared for they feel because of our team,” added Brittney Summerfield. 

If you or someone you know is experiencing chronic pain and may be looking for another solution, consider Special Procedures at Renown. As their patients have repeatedly stated, these employees make miracles happen, turning moments of distress into tales of triumph. 

“Don’t forget to ask your providers about getting referred to us for pain management – we exist for YOU!” closes Michon Edgington. 
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