Group Clinics for Osteoporosis Patients at MetroHealth’s Brecksville Health and Surgery Center.
Mary Pultz has a family history of osteoporosis; her mother, grandmother and aunts all had the condition. More than a decade ago, when Mary was in her mid-60s, her primary care physician at MetroHealth ordered a bone density scan. When the results came back showing low bone density, she was referred to a rheumatologist.
Mary never started taking any hormone replacement therapy at the onset of menopause because of her strong family history of breast cancer. That increased her risk of developing osteoporosis.
Even though Mary has had regular appointments with a MetroHealth rheumatologist since then, and has been taking Prolia, an injectable medication that treats osteoporosis, every six months for the past nine years, she remains active.
“I haven’t had to make any drastic lifestyle changes,” said Mary, 78, a retired teacher who is a lecturer at Cleveland State University, where she also supervises special education student teachers.
Two years ago, Mary watched a video on women’s health that featured MetroHealth rheumatologist Maria Antonelli, MD. Mary liked her communication style and the information she shared. She needed a new rheumatologist, so she chose Dr. Antonelli.
Shared Medical Appointments
In 2022, Laurel Stevens, DNP, RN NEA-BC, Clinical Practice Coordinator, asked Mary if she would be interested in joining the first shared medical appointments being offered to rheumatology patients. She explained these appointments would consist of group discussions involving four to six patients and presentations by Dr. Antonelli on different educational topics. Dr. Antonelli also would talk to each patient about their medical issues while the others observed.
“It’s a delicate balance of having patients who are easy to talk to, but who are not wanting to address 20 different things during their appointment,” said Dr. Antonelli, who credits Laurel Stevens for helping with the task of choosing participants who would complement each other. “It’s fun to see my patients interact with and learn from each other.”
The group visits last between 60-90 minutes and are held at the MetroHealth Brecksville Health and Surgery Center. The group meets every six months.
“The nurse explained what it was, and that it would be confidential,” Mary said. “As a retired teacher, I like groups. I like the benefit of hearing what other people have to say.”
Four patients attended the first osteoporosis group visit in June 2022.
“The group dynamic is good,” Mary said. “It’s helpful being able to listen to other people’s experiences. And I really like Dr. Antonelli’s presentations.”
“Dr. Antonelli is very approachable. Any question you ask is a good question to ask,” she added. “She takes the time and doesn’t rush us. That makes me really want to participate and share because she’s got that attitude.”
Based on patient interest, group clinics are offered up to twice a month.
“The whole idea is to give patients more access to their provider,” Dr. Antonelli said. “They like more one-on-one time, and we like being able to offer it.”