While innovations may have changed over his 10 years, Dr. Empey’s dedication to patients is strong as ever

Desert Pain Specialists' Dr. Court Empey celebrates 10 years of service in Southern Utah, St. George, Utah, Sept. 24, 2018 | Photo by Andrew Pinckney, St. George News

FEATURE — Walking into a doctor’s office with rows of chairs and lines of people waiting desperately in a lobby can be anxiety inducing for anyone and may leave people feeling insignificant. But that’s not the case for Desert Pain Specialists, and when it comes to Dr. Joseph C. Empey, the patient experience has always been the primary concern. He has developed his entire practice to ensure no one ever feels like just a number.

Dr. Joseph C. Empey of Desert Pain Specialists exits a procedure room at Desert Pain Specialists clinic, St. George, Utah, Sept. 24, 2018 | Photo by Andrew Pinckney, St. George News

Desert Pain Specialists – Southern Utah’s premier interventional pain management team – is thrilled to celebrate Empey’s 10 years of dedicated patient care and continuous service to St. George and the neighboring communities.

Empey, or “Court” to his many family, friends and patients, said he remembers the day he started his practice with just two other employees in a community experiencing a great need for qualified interventional pain specialists. As a St. George native, Empey knew he wanted to settle with his wife in the area and give back to the town that he felt raised him.

“We feel a great sense of gratitude and indebtedness to this town,” Empey said. “I feel like the patients and the providers are better than anywhere else I have been in the country. It’s a great place to practice.”

During the past 10 years, he has seen many innovations in the constantly evolving industry to improve care, but his most gratifying operation is kyphoplasty – the surgical filling of an injured or collapsed vertebra with bone cement – because of the immediate impact it has on relieving a person’s suffering. Empey said the people that benefit most are typically women afflicted with osteoporosis and who normally do not have a lot of pain problems but suddenly find themselves with a new, acute pain.

They can’t breathe, they can’t sleep, they can’t do anything,” he said. “It is my favorite procedure we get to do.”

Cortney Bernardo, a physician assistant who has been with Dr. Empey and the practice since its inception, said Empey has put the patients’ needs first since day one.

Bernardo said she often hears complaints about other pain management clinics that make patients feel pushed around, moved in, moved out and herded around like cattle, but Empey’s philosophy about care is beyond what patients have come to expect. If they are not well cared for, he is not happy. Bernardo said:

He takes a lot of time with them. He is always worried about making them happy, It’s not about the money, he is very caring. Dr. Empey is really good to sit and visit with the patients and make them understand what the procedure is. It just makes them feel special.

Desert Pain Specialists recently moved into a new state-of-the-art building at the Riverfront Medical Center that was designed from top to bottom with clients in mind. Many of their clients have mobility issues or difficulties walking, and the new location offers patients a convenient one-stop experience for their medical needs.

Read more: Open house welcomes new Riverfront Medical Center that combines extreme style and convenient care

Desert Pain Specialists’ new lobby designed with patient comfort in mind, St. George, Utah, date unspecified | Photo courtesy of Desert Pain Specialists, St. George News

The physicians and clinics now have the ability to deliver comprehensive care in a pleasing environment that can make a real difference to someone in severe pain.

Chase Morrison, office administrator for Desert Pain Specialists, said as health care has changed to consumerism, Dr. Empey has continued to focus on the patient experience, making that the heart of his practice.

“There’s a lot of physicians that have the mentality of what’s easiest. His approach has always been what’s best for the patient and what’s best for their families. They are an individual, and his goal is to get them to return to their best life possible,” Morrison said.

Empey said all of his staff and colleagues are excellent to work with, and they will continue to answer the needs of the patients with new procedures and facets of care that can help alleviate their pain. They appreciate the trust endeared to them by the community to take care of their loved ones and will continue striving to fulfill patient needs.

“They care about their pain,” Empey said of the people he surrounds himself with. “They care about trying to treat to them. It’s very rewarding to work with people that care and want to help.”

About Desert Pain Specialists

Desert Pain Specialists is Southern Utah’s premier interventional pain management team. The doctors and the entire staff at Desert Pain Specialists are dedicated to helping patients find relief from their pain. Their state-of-the-art facility in St. George, Utah, allows them to offer unmatched quality of care for their patients.

Desert Pain Specialists is located in the new Riverfront Medical Center, 617 E. Riverside Drive, Suite 301 in St. George. The team has additional offices at 1760 N. Main St. in Cedar City and 340 Falcon Ridge Parkway, Suite 600, in Mesquite, Nevada.

Written by ANDREW PINCKNEY , St. George News

• S P O N S O R E D   C O N T E N T  •


Desert Pain Specialists | Telephone: 435-216-7000 | Email: [email protected] | Website.


  • St. George: 617 E. Riverside Drive, Suite 301.
  • Cedar City: 1760 N. Main St.
  • Mesquite, Nevada: 340 Falcon Ridge Parkway, Suite 600

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews


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  • mmsandie October 2, 2018 at 9:14 am

    I love dr. Empey, he is very caring, but when 8nwent the las5 time for a procedure, his girl had trouble getting the needle in my arm, and never went to sleep and kept telling them that during the procedure.. they didn,t do anything, when I was out of the operating room, the young guy , took the needle out and blood went. all over.. he said that always happens to the last patien5 of the day.. h needs more training.. the arm was purple and ugly for 3 weeks..
    I still would recommend Dr. Empey, his physicians assistant Mark is excellent too and ver6 caring.

  • Dave October 4, 2018 at 10:27 pm

    All this office did for us was to create an opioid addition. No help or answers except to prescribe drugs which now we understand was the exact wrong thing to do.

  • Whiz October 5, 2018 at 5:11 am

    I have been a patient at the Pain Clinic for around 7-8 years, with Cortney Bernardo, the PAC, as my personal pain specialist. At least that’s how they’ve made me feel, treating pain I’ve had from my time in the service, and 3 knee replacements. In my many visits, I’m always asked in a sincere & caring way, how I’ve been and if they can help me in any way. I find that sort of treatment rare in how some medical offices do treat you like you’re in a cattle auction.
    So happy to see the recognition they rightly deserve! Thanks to everyone there for making me feel like I’m the only patient they have.

  • Craig October 5, 2018 at 9:57 am

    Nice article; though, I am not impressed with comments degrading other physicians and practices.

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