New PITT med center in Tampa tackles non-opioid pain relief

Behind its doors, what will be taught is an exact science.

A new, state-of-the-art medical education and training facility is now open in West Central Florida: the Pacira Innovation and Training Center of Tampa, known as the “PITT.”
The 10,000-square-feet facility at 5401 W. Kennedy Blvd., Suite 810, is the main training center for Pacira Biosciences Inc., one of the U.S.’s leading providers of non-opioid pain management for hospitals, clinics, doctors’ offices, and other medical facilities. 

Basically, PITT was created and constructed to provide space for clinical training for managing acute pain for anesthesiologists and surgeons who want to reduce or eliminate their patients’ exposure to opioids.
The Tampa PITT joins Pacira’s headquarters in Parsippany, N.J., and manufacturing facilities in Fremont and San Diego, CA, and Swindon, England, with a combined approximately 600 employees. Between 25 to 30 PITT staff and trainees will be on the Tampa campus at any given time.
Studies by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention show one in 10 patients who are prescribed opioids after surgery will go on to become addicted to that drug, meaning if there are 70 million surgical procedures per year in the U.S., there could possibly be 7 million new opioid addicts every year. Additionally, more than 191 million opioid prescriptions were dispensed to American patients in 2017, with wide variation across states.

Some of the most common opioids prescribed by doctors are Methadone, Oxycodone, and Hydrocodone.
Education is key to pain management

Joyce Davis, Senior VP for medical innovation and education, says the PITT’s opening in Tampa will support the company’s ongoing efforts to transition inpatient procedures to a 23-hour stay environment that can directly impact patient recoveries and satisfaction rates. This is due to over the last several years, there has been a move to seek surgery out of hospital settings, recover at home, and allowing patients a way to manage and control their pain without high volumes of opioids and side effects.

Davis says hospital operating and recovery rooms are possible “gateways to the opioid epidemic.” She adds Pacira provides non-opioid alternatives and non-opioid pain management, regenerative health plans.
Davis, in her 12th year with Pacira, says the narcotic addiction via post-surgery care was created because surgery patients tried to control their pain after surgery with narcotics, leaving about 20 million Americans in recovery. She says physicians and other medical providers have been looking for ways to circumvent the opioid-for-recovery route.
“So, awareness and need for opioid alternatives are at an all-time high and education is a key component to that to adopt new strategies. And we have physicians asking us for this education,” she says. “We do feel that educating doctors about the importance of nonopioid pain management is central to the mission here at Pacira.”

To give direction in non-opioid recovery treatments, the PITT facility has a lecture hall with a 6-feet by 24-feet LED wall for lessons and graphics, accommodating from 75 to 100 people. There’s a simulation laboratory with eight individual bays for hands-on work, digital TVs on the walls, and High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) for seven ultrasound scanning stations. There’s also a broadcast center with “limitless” outreach. 

“All three of these sections through technology are tied together, but separate, so I could be training in the simulation lab and then bring global presentations up on the LED wall to enhance that training and education and be typing all that out directly through the broadcast center,” says Davis. “So, it’s very flexible in that they work functionally independent or all tied together.”

In addition, Davis says the PITT was designed with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in mind. In addition to a green-screen broadcast studio designed to livestream content, there are large lecture halls and unique center desks with self-storage containers, set on casters with chairs connected to the desks, keeping participants spread out and not joined at tables.
Creating comfort in a controlled environment

As for laboratory exercises and hands-on activities, doctors and anesthesiologists can see and hear instructors, but don’t need to be huddled up close using TVs higher up over flexible space and projected ultra-sound machines.
“We have created a nice social distancing for respect to anyone who wants to come in and not feel like they’re out of where they feel like they’re uncomfortable based on the covid situation,” says Davis.

Besides classes and seminars, the PITT will also host ongoing workshops and hands-on training programs to help train new clinicians on emerging regional blocks. There also will be instruction in administration techniques for iovera, a non-opioid treatment that alleviates knee pain by applying cold therapy to a specific nerve to prevent its ability to transmit a pain signal to the brain.

“There is the foundational technology inlaid in the settings so that it becomes extremely flexible based on the kind of educational outfit that you want to deliver,” Davis says.
Dr. Jeffrey Gonzales, regional anesthesiologist and president of Enhanced Recovery Anesthetic Consultants, Parker, CO, says the opening of the Tampa PITT is an important step forward in the education and implementation of non-opioid techniques, specifically regarding managing acute pain. He has been in practice for 14 years. 

“With this new facility, we, as clinicians, now have the technology and space to seamlessly share best practice pain management approaches and insights with peers across the country, both in person and virtually through the broadcast center,” Gonzales states by email. “I’m proud to have played a role in working with Pacira to provide input and guidance on the development of the facility.”
As far as how long PITT attendees are expected to stay, Davis says there are all-day events or seminars for a few weekdays or weekends. She says session lengths will be based on the types of programs being delivered.
Those attending a PITT workshop will not be graded; what they take back to the office will be up to them. Since students are asking for training on the latest techniques, courses are developed to allow for the maximum amount of time it takes to feel comfortable in a controlled environment.

“We want to get people to the point where they feel comfortable when they leave the facility, that they have the basic skills they have to go back and change their practices,” adds Davis.

The other benefit of the new PITT, says Davis, is to bring clinicians and practitioners to a central location where they can be trained by world-renowned experts. They can now take their training back and deliver to patients’ homes and show them ways doctors can help with pain and not rely on opioids.
“I think patients will realize, too, that there are alternatives out there, they just need a better understanding of what those are and that’s the conversations they’re seeking to ask their physicians,” says Davis. “And you want the physicians to be well-equipped to answer those questions with confidence to their patients.”

For information, visit the PITT website or call (973) 451-4030.
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Read more articles by Paul Catala.

Paul Catala is a freelance writer whose work has been published across Florida, the U.S., and internationally. He has more than 30 years of experience working at the Charlotte Sun-Herald, the Tampa Tribune, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, the Provo (Utah) Daily-Herald, The (Lakeland) Ledger, and the Associated Press. He has a degree in broadcast telecommunication from the University of Florida and did post-graduate study in journalism at the University of South Carolina. Now living in Lakeland, Paul is an accomplished musician, playing keyboard and piano both solo and with bands around the Tampa Bay Area.