USask Chronic Pain Clinic - Photo: Jason Belhumeur

USask Chronic Pain Clinic secures $1.36M annual funding boost

Milestone Achievement for the USask Chronic Pain Clinic and the University of Saskatchewan's College of Pharmacy and Nutrition.

By Jason Belhumeur

In a landmark development for chronic pain treatment in Saskatchewan, the Ministry of Finance has announced the approved funding of $1.36 million of annual funding for the USask Chronic Pain Clinic (UCPC). This significant financial allocation, facilitated by the provincial Ministry of Health, will ensure the continuation of a vital healthcare service offered at the University of Saskatchewan (USask) campus to individuals living with chronic pain across the province of Saskatchewan.

"This is an historic day for our college and for the province. People who live with chronic pain can now rely on this clinic to be there for them into the future and health professional students will have the opportunity to continue to learn at the clinic” expressed Dr. Derek Jorgenson, Director of UCPC, summing up the impact of this funding announcement.

In March 2023, Health Canada funding was running out, and Dr. Jorgenson along with Associate Director, Tracy Hastings, were determined to find sustainable financial backing from the Ministry of Health. In the fiscal plan outlined by the provincial government for 2024-2025, titled "Classrooms, Care, and Communities," the allocation of financial support to UCPC provides a commitment to patient-centric healthcare delivery.

The clinic began as a pilot research initiative in 2020 under the Health Canada Substance Use and Addictions Program (SUAP). It was initially called the MAC Interprofessional Opioid Pain Service (MAC iOPS) and the service was rebranded to it's current name USask Chronic Pain Clinic (UCPC) summer of 2022. Within a span of fewer than five years, the clinic has grown from a research project into a cornerstone of healthcare provision in Saskatchewan, reflecting USask's reputation of fostering productive collaboration and meaningful impact within the provincial healthcare system. Utilizing an innovative model of interprofessional chronic pain care, the UCPC has delivered on thepriority action of ‘improving access to timely, equitable, and person-centred pain care’ as outlined by the Government of Canada's Chronic Pain Task Force.

The success story of UCPC is due to a collaborative commitment to evidence-based practice. By leveraging research grants from Indigenous Services Canada and Health Canada's Substance Use and Addictions Program, the clinic has consolidated its role as an interprofessional care team catering to the diverse needs of Saskatchewan residents living with chronic pain. A recent program evaluationparts of which have been published in peer-reviewed scientific journals, underscored the transformative impact of UCPC interventions, accomplishing reductions in unsafe opioid use, enhanced patient well-being, and healthcare provider proficiency in managing chronic pain.

“This financial commitment exemplifies the provincial government’s recognition of the importance of the UCPC in fulfilling the government’s mandate to expand patient care and increase access to services to meet the demands of our growing population.” stated Dr Jane Alcorn, Dean of the College of Pharmacy and Nutrition at the University of Saskatchewan.

Beyond its clinical offerings, UCPC extends its influence through mentorship initiatives aimed at empowering healthcare providers and fostering a culture of patient-centered care. With provisions for both practitioner referrals and self-referrals, the clinic ensures accessibility by offering in-person and virtual consultations to residents across Saskatchewan, bypassing travel barriers in healthcare delivery.

As the USask Chronic Pain Clinic embarks on its next phase of growth using this new stream of sustainable funding, it stands poised to continue its heritage of compassionate care and academic excellence, serving as a dependable solution for individuals navigating the complex terrain of chronic pain management.