Hundreds of Tennesseans will need to find another doctor to fill their pain medications. The pain management group Comprehensive Pain Specialists will close over 20 Tennessee locations.

Three of those clinics are here in the Tennessee Valley.

“Thank you for calling Anesthesia Services Associates and Comprehensive Pain Specialists, we are currently closed,” said a recorded message left for patients in Cleveland.

The Athens and Chattanooga locations will close later this month.

“Doctors in this area are trying to prepare for that. Take steps to make sure patients aren’t left out in the cold sort of speak. That they are still able to get the help that they need,” said Dr. John Blake, a specialist in pain management.

But he said that won't be easy. It can take weeks or months to see a new doctor.

“If a patient is taking chronic opioids that can be an issue because there are issues of withdrawal, dependence," Dr. Blake said. "That can necessitate trying to come in and get a new physician established before they run out of those prescriptions.”

Blake said if you are a patient with CPS you should talk with your primary care doctor about your next step.

“Sometimes a patient’s primary care physician can be able to bridge them until they get the appropriate care that they need, if not take over the medications that they are currently taking,” said Dr. Blake.

The clinic closures come during the height of the opioid epidemic. Dr. Blake said when looking for a new physician to treat your pain, remember these key things:

  • Always look for board certification.
  • Make sure the physician is board certified by the American Board of Medical Specialties.
  • Fellowship training is obviously another very important thing to consider when you are looking for a doctor who specializes in pain.
  • If you are going to see someone, who is going to treat this, you want to make sure they are trained and have the appropriate training and credentials.

Channel 3 reached out to the CPS corporate office for a comment about why the sudden closures. Those inquiries haven't been answered.

In April, the CEO was indicted on Medicare fraud. It is unclear if the charges and closures are related.