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Kernersville pain clinic brings welcome relief to Veterans

Shirley Hairston, RN, left, and Dr. Hoon B. Shim, MD, pose for a photo at the Kernersville VA Health Care Center in Kernersville, North Carolina.
Shirley Hairston, RN, left, and Dr. Hoon B. Shim, MD, pose for a photo at the Kernersville VA Health Care Center in Kernersville, North Carolina.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2021 over 50 million adults in the United States dealt with chronic pain, and over 17 million experienced high-impact chronic pain – specifically the variety which drastically restricts daily activities.

For our nation’s heroes, it's no different. 

One in three Veterans have been diagnosed with a condition related to chronic pain. 

To help local Veterans in need, the Salisbury VA Health Care System opened its first clinic solely focused on alleviating Veterans’ chronic pain issues in September 2023. The clinic is located at the Kernersville Health Care Center (HCC).

For the last seven months, the clinic has been able to evaluate 174 patients and performed over 160 procedures for issues ranging from back, joint, spine, and knee to neck pain often treated with a single shot of medicine. 

“It's been very successful. There's a high demand for interventional pain,” said Dr. Hoon Shim, head of the pain clinic.

Dr. Shim, an anesthesiologist who joined the Kernersville HCC in the fall of 2022, added Salisbury VA had been planning to integrate interventional pain treatment for quite some time.

To help combat the demand, the clinic hopes to bring on a mid-level provider, such as a physician assistant or nurse practitioner, by the summer. Ultimately, the clinic’s goal is to reduce average patient wait time from several months to only a few weeks. 

“We take care of a lot of Veterans that have pain control issues and when we can offer them this kind of care, it makes it more of a Whole Health experience so that they don't have compartmental care,” said Dr. Elizabeth Bell, an anesthesiologist with the Salisbury VA Health Care System. 

Dr. Bell was part of the Pain Management and Whole Health Committees which were at the helm of creating the clinic. After helping to recruit Dr. Shim to the Kernersville HCC, Dr. Bell handed over the reins of the clinic to him. 

“Dr. Shim was so reassuring,” said Darrell Davis, a 76-year-old U.S. Coast Guard Veteran and pain clinic patient. “The pain relief I had after the injection was almost immediate.” 

Mr. Davis suffers from severe back pain and described his pain as being a “ten” before his treatment at the pain clinic. 

“I've always enjoyed the work, so I'm very happy to be now part of the VA to provide this service for Veterans,” added Dr. Shim.

Currently, the clinic is only open two days a week: Tuesdays (clinic) and Thursdays (procedures). 

For more information on the Kernersville HCC Pain Clinic, Veterans may contact their Patient Aligned Care Team (PACT), primary care physician, or email the Office of Strategic Communications & Public Affairs at

At the Salisbury VA Health Care System, our mission is to fulfill President Lincoln’s promise to care for those who have served in our nation’s military and for their families, caregivers, and survivors.

Learn more at

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