For more than a quarter-century, this trio of doctors has been helping patients to live happier, healthier lives. Meet the physicians behind this operation and learn how their work has grown and changed with the industry.
Che name on their office says Medical Pain Management Services, Ltd. (MPMS), but Dr. Howard Weiss says a more fitting name could be Pain and Function Management.
“Most often, our primary focus is either getting a patient to function again or keeping a patient functional,” Weiss says. “We try to make the golden years more golden for people.”
For 25 years, Medical Pain Management Services, 1235 N. Mulford Road, Rockford, has been helping people in chronic pain to live happy, healthy lives. MPMS also uses the latest technology and treatment services to address acute or chronic pain conditions.
“We diagnose and treat pain with the most common being spine problems, but we also treat various neuropathic pain problems, cancer problems and other chronic pain problems,” Weiss says. “Almost any chronic pain problem that has persisted is fair game to us.”
Some of the conditions that are treated at MPMS include spinal diseases, neuropathic pain, diabetic neuropathy, cancer pain and work and sports related injuries.
Primary care providers, neurosurgeons, orthopedic surgeons, oncologists and other medical professionals refer patients to MPMS. The clinic treats patients from all over the region, including Rochelle, Dixon and Freeport.
MPMS may occasionally get patients in their 20s and 30s, but the average age of people visiting the clinic is in their 50s and 60s, Weiss says.
“When we see a patient, we diagnose the problem, treat it, and if necessary, refer them to a spine surgeon or a general surgeon,” says Dr. Stephen Minore, president and CEO of MPMS. “The work that we do is across the board.”
Medical procedures may be done onsite or at a number of facilities in north central Illinois. These may include spinal interventional techniques, spinal cord stimulation, epidural steroid injections, sympathetic nerve blocks and kyphoplasty, where special cement is injected into a fractured vertebra to stabilize the fracture.
“We mainly do pain management, which includes prescription and interventional treatments,” Weiss says. “We also send people out for physical therapy and other adjunctive therapies.”
One reason MPMS has remained successful all these years is because of its all-star team of respected physicians, Weiss says. The physicians on staff are American board-certified in both anesthesiology and the sub-specialty of pain management. Nurses on staff are also well-trained and highly experienced in the pain management field.
“We have three board-certified doctors and that’s the gold standard,” Weiss says. “We also have two nurses with more than 20 years of experience, so there’s a lot of expertise within our company. I think we’re pretty clearly the best in our area.”
In 1992, Weiss and Minore were board-certified anesthesiologists with Rockford Anesthesiologists Associated, LLC (RAA) when the group decided to start Medical Pain Management.
“We’re able to manage pain, and at the time, it was being treated all over the map,” Minore says. “So, myself and Dr. Weiss, through our group, decided to set a pain clinic up and we’re now one of the premier clinics in the Midwest.”
Minore and Weiss had the experience and the expertise to get the clinic off the ground. They were MPMS’ first physicians.
“RAA gave seed money to get the company started and it flourished from there,” Weiss says.
Minore adds that back then, there was a definite need for pain management services.
“A lot of these patients weren’t being treated,” he recalls. “For a lot of people, their pain was so severe at times that they would drink themselves to death or commit suicide. Very rarely in medicine do you get to be on the initial wave of a new specialty, and we were.”
When MPMS first started, it was housed in a small office at 2202 Harlem Road, Loves Park, Ill., where Rockford Anesthesiologists’ business office is currently located. It had six total rooms and a crowded waiting area. The need for pain management was so great that six years into the practice, they outgrew that space.
Now, the clinic is in an office much bigger that includes 11 rooms, a fluoroscopy suite and a larger waiting area.
The practice has always remained an independent entity. In the beginning, it took a lot of hard work and word-of-mouth to get the referrals coming in. Word-of-mouth about the doctor’s expertise and the quality of care is what has kept people coming back.
Today, since the Rockford area is flooded with manufacturing and industrial companies, Minore says he often treats people who work in a physical environment.
“We have manufacturing plants where people do repetitive-type work, and it predisposes them to certain painful conditions,” he says.
Thanks to advancements in technology, the way patients are treated has drastically evolved through the years. Minore says both the doctors and staff have continued to keep up with technology as it changes.
“We’ve stayed abreast of all the latest techniques and I go across the country to learn new techniques, and I teach them,” Minore says. “You have to stay on top of everything because we’re in a technology-driven business. The material I learned in medical school would be out-of-date now because everything that we do is brand new. I go to several conferences each year, and I’ve been involved in teaching at the national level.”
To keep the momentum going for the next 25 years, MPMS has been actively recruiting the next generation of specialists. Dr. Azhar Kothawala joined the practice in 2016. A partner with RAA, Kothawala brings a fresh perspective and expertise to the practice. As the recently appointed medical director, the hope is he’ll carry MPMS into the next 25 years, continuing the legacy of expertise and quality care in this area.
Minore says it’s also important that the staff continues to learn and expand their knowledge.
“I’ve had outstanding partners, and we all continue to want to learn,” he says. “A lot of people get complacent, but there’s always something better on the horizon. So, you have to constantly educate yourself and keep moving forward.”