Grateful patient finds bone-building drug at Sanford Health

Declined at other health systems, Marlene Domres has begun osteoporosis treatments

Grateful patient finds bone-building drug at Sanford Health

Sanford Health providers have helped a patient in Minot, North Dakota, gain access to a bone density drug that will greatly improve her quality of life.

Marlene Domres knew she was at risk of osteoporosis. When she took a bone density test, she was disappointed but not shocked to hear the results were dangerously low.

“I was like fine china,” she said.

Domres, 64, had been on prednisone for years to treat Crohn’s disease. That drug’s side effects, along with her age and low body mass index, made her especially susceptible to osteoporosis. A standard bone density test for people ends with a T-score between +1 and -1. Domres’ T-scores in two different parts of her body were -3 and -4.

“She was lower than -2.5 and at that point she is classified as having osteoporosis,” said Kelsey Duchsherer, a family medicine nurse practitioner at Sanford Health’s Highway 2 Clinic in Minot. “Her risk was substantial – it was almost at 10% for hip fracture. She could just be doing something high impact, or even step wrong or land wrong, we just don’t know. The bone mineral density was that reduced.”

Trouble getting the drug

Domres sought out treatments and was approved to use Evenity, a drug that stimulates bone growth. The only problem: she couldn’t get it from her previous health system.

“I tried with two local establishments and both of them turned me down,” said Domres. “They didn’t want to take a loss on it. That was very hard for me to understand.”

Enter Sanford Health.

“She came to me as a new patient. She was a little distraught, maybe a little bit discouraged because she had been to multiple other facilities,” said Duchsherer. “Her scan did reveal osteoporosis … so immediately following that visit we got to work.”

Within two weeks, Sanford Health approved the request. Domres would get her drug shipped from the Sanford pharmacy in Bismarck, and would receive the drug once a month at her local clinic in Minot.

“I just was overwhelmed,” said Domres. “The patient is their concern. You only live once and that was just overwhelming to me.”

For Duchsherer and the Sanford staff in Minot, the feelings were plenty positive as well.

“We look at Minot, and we know it is small,” Duchsherer said. “It’s rural even in comparison to Bismarck. But working for Sanford and knowing the connections and the mass coverage area that Sanford has a footprint, we know that we are not limited given our location in our rural area. There is somebody out there that knows how to get these products to us and it’s just finding that multifaceted care team.”

Marlene Domres is moving forward with her Evenity treatment. She’ll be done next April. While she’s still being careful now, she is looking forward to next summer when she hopes to take on one of her favorite activities once again.

“I love to water ski. After I learned about my bone density, I quit last summer because I don’t think I should take the chance. By next June they can do my bone density scan again. So I’m hoping,” Domres said with a smile. “I’m hoping.”

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Posted In Bismarck, Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, Menopause Care, Minot