Inpatient Treatment at St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea

Most patients treated at the Michigan Headache & Neurological Institute achieve significant progress and obtain successful management on an outpatient basis. However, individuals with particularly complex or intense symptoms or persistent pain patterns may be admitted to the Headache Treatment Unit (HTU) at St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea (formerly Chelsea Community Hospital or CCH). St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea is a general acute care hospital located 15 miles west of Ann Arbor on 119 wooded acres in the village of Chelsea.

This hospital program, which was developed by Dr. Saper and CCH in 1978, is the first hospital specialty program for headache patients in the world. The HTU became the pioneering model for specialized treatment of severe and advanced head, neck and/or other pain illnesses that have not responded to outpatient treatment.

Admission to the hospital unit is usually reserved for those patients whose condition has been unresponsive to an extensive course of outpatient care and/or require a greater intensity of treatment and services than can be offered outside of a hospital setting. Approximately 30% of MHNI patients require hospital services.

Admission Criteria

Below are the principles and criteria for admission to the Headache Treatment Unit:

  • Pain which has been unresponsive to aggressive outpatient treatment and/or is of such severity as to require urgent intervention, which usually includes intravenous therapy and other acute interventions to break the headache cycle

  • Pain associated with severe, persistent nausea and vomiting or complicating features which require frequent parenteral medication, given by injection for pain control and/or rehydration

  • Dependence on and/or excessive use of medication to the extent that drug-induced headache or other physiological consequences are present or likely to occur from withdrawal and cannot be efficiently or safely treated on an outpatient basis

  • Severe pain associated with the likelihood of organic disease of the nervous system, such as infection, vascular illness, etc.

  • Acute pain in the presence of significant other medical disease or emotional illness which complicate or preclude treatment on an outpatient basis

  • Other patient-specific needs mandating hospital level care

Hospital Program Staff

Working with Dr. Saper and his colleagues is a team of highly experienced professionals specially trained to treat pain. This internationally recognized program and multidisciplinary staff includes physicians, physician assistants, psychologists, nurses, social workers, pharmacists, physical therapists, recreational therapists, and nutritionists, all working together to implement the most effective treatment for each participating individual.