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Simpson Clinic: There is no 'typical' patient when it comes to pain

Tanja Moody • Nov 2, 2012 at 12:52 PM

When a person has chronic pain, a doctor with a listening ear is essential - even more so when a patient has already seen several doctors and hasn’t been offered a diagnosis. That’s the point where a visit to Dr. Harland Simpson’s newly-opened pain clinic can be beneficial.

"All his patients say after they see him for their first appointment that they’ve never had such a thorough appointment," said Brenda Nunley, Simpson Clinic office manager.

In fact, patients should expect their first appointment with Dr. Simpson to last between 45 minutes and an hour, because there is no "typical" patient when it comes to pain. Pain clinic visitors range from cancer patients to those who suffer from the side effects of shingles or other ailments.

"We see all of the bizarre stuff," Dr. Simpson said. "Stuff that can be fixed by the first two or three doctors someone sees, they don’t come to us. So with the bizarre things, it’s mentally engaging."

In fact, Dr. Simpson said he reads about two hours each day to keep current in his field.

"The reason I got into pain management is that, as a resident, I saw people who were dying and in pain," Dr. Simpson said. "People were afraid to give them pain medication because they were dying. That was disturbing for me. But that was the practice of medicine 20 years ago."

The doctor began his residency in anesthesia, but spent the last six months in pain management. Back then, no fellowships were offered in pain management, according the Dr. Simpson, who was raised in Brunswick, Tenn., on the outskirts of Memphis.

After completing his education, including medical school at ETSU, Dr. Simpson joined the Army and served at the Lyster Army Health Clinic as chief of Anesthesia and Operative Services. He also started a pain clinic.

"The clinic became so popular that there were even generals who would fly in," Dr. Simpson recalled. "It was a small base, Fort Rucker (in Alabama), and they were sending people to see me from all over the place."

After three years, he left the Army ranked as a major and started working at Holston Anesthesia Associates where he was again asked to start a pain practice. Within three years, Dr. Simpson was seeing approximately 30 patients a day. The pain practice was eventually closed and Dr. Simpson stayed on with the anesthesia group for a few years. Then he moved to Indian Path Hospital, where he wanted to open another pain clinic. Once the clinic was opened, Dr. Simpson quit working in the hospital’s operating room as an anesthesiologist and concentrated solely on the pain clinic, which opened in September.

To see Dr. Simpson, patients can do self-referrals. They can also be referred through their primary care physicians, physical therapists or even physicians in other specialties, like orthopedists, neurologists, psychiatrists and chiropractors, according to Dr. Simpson and Nunley.

Dr. Simpson and his wife, Dr. Leigh Anne Young, a Kingsport native, have been married for 24 years. They homeschool their teenage sons, James and David. The family enjoys learning both martial arts and music. Both doctors are learning Aikido, while older son James focuses on Taekwondo (which Dr. Young is also learning) and younger son David works with both Aikido and Bushido sword arts. Each family member also plays a different musical instrument: Dr. Simpson plays the banjo; Dr. Young plays the piano, cello and the mandolin; James plays the guitar, and David is a fiddler.

The Simpson Clinic is located at 2012 Brookside Drive, Suite 1, in Kingsport. Office hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. To schedule an appointment or for more information, call 423-378-5005. You can also "like" the Simpson Clinic Facebook page.

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