New in Mystic: Quick Help for Acute Spine Patients

Hartford HealthCare was ready to launch with fanfare its new Acute Spine Program at its Mystic HealthCenter in April, when the coronavirus pandemic began to surge in Connecticut.

The program still launched, but quietly. Linda Brozyna, RN, HHC spine nurse navigator, says that while the start was unexpectedly slow, once Connecticut went into its phased reopening, patients began to come through the program, referred from PCPs, ED, Urgent Care or specialists. 

The program is designed to help patients with acute neck and back pain (cervical and lumbar pain) see a provider within 24 hours of the referral. As the nurse navigator, Brozyna connects patients with the appropriate provider and creates a personalized care plan based on their individual needs. She is the first point of contact for all patients looking to schedule an appointment in the Mystic, Norwich, Waterford or Westerly offices.

Brozyna ensures that the patient is evaluated by specific trained providers, who then refer these patients for non-surgical related interventions such as:
  • Physical therapy
  • Integrative medicine (massage therapy, acupuncture)
  • Virtual reality for pain management
  • Injections
The program partners with a number of specialties to provide the patient with the most streamlined, personalized and coordinated care. Partnerships include:
  • Radiology
  • Physical therapy
  • Integrative medicine
  • Surgeons
  • Behavioral health specialist
This approach was first utilized at the Hospital of Central Connecticut, which created an Acute Spine Center. Bringing it to Mystic “is a huge step forward for patients experiencing acute back pain,” says Rebecca Durham, Senior Director of Institute Development. “Linda ensures each patient receives the most coordinated care our system can provide.” 

Brozyna helps patients navigate the non-pharmacological spine services at Hartford HealthCare including physical therapy, injections, integrative medicine and even virtual reality. From there she checks in with the patient throughout the course of treatment to make sure the care plan is working and help the patient get back to their optimum health status. 

Jessica Brayman, a 36-year-old of Oakdale, received a referral to the Acute Spine Program for help with sciatic pain from a 2019 discectomy. “Once I got the referral, it was like, boom, boom, boom,” she said. “Linda got me in to see (pain specialist Dr. Adrian) Hamburger within a few days, and I got a treatment plan and physical therapy. She is very responsive, and so well organized, and she follows up with me regularly.”