When pain and stiffness become so overwhelming that it affects your way of life, it’s time to get back to doing the things you love. For one Holy Rosary associate, her discomfort nearly made it intolerable to come to work each day, but because of the services offered within her place of work, she knew she could receive the right care to keep her moving.
The immune system reacts to germs, viruses and injury by sending inflammation to the affected area. The inflammation is meant to surround and protect the delicate nerves and blood vessels in that area of the body. But when inflammation occurs unnecessarily, the condition is called autoimmune disease, which can damage the nerves, joints, muscles and internal organs.
Kristi Plant is a Miles City native and has been at Holy Rosary for 19 years, working in the laboratory as a lab assistant. Much of her work involves ‘hands-on’ activities,’ such as drawing blood. About 7 years ago, she noticed that something may be wrong when everyday movements started to become more difficult. After a visit with her primary care provider, Kara Erickson, Physician Assistant, Kristi was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder, known as rheumatoid arthritis.
Nearly 23% of adults have arthritis, yet rheumatoid arthritis affects only 1%, with it being more prevalent among women. Symptoms of rheumatic disease vary based on the person affected and the type of condition. Some symptoms may be vague or widespread, while others are more obvious and easier to diagnose. Common symptoms that appear in many with rheumatic diseases include inflammation, joint pain, stiffness or swelling, a rash, sleep disturbance from pain, toughness, tightening or hardening of the skin, weakness or loss of mobility. For Plant, she experienced many of these symptoms and knew she needed a treatment option that would make it more bearable
There are currently no cures for rheumatic diseases, but treatment can help alleviate pain, restore mobility and control symptoms. Krisit’s case of rheumatoid arthritis was so severe that it saw her travelling to Billings at the time to receive treatment and soon begin infusions.
When she first started her infusion process, she went to a provider at the Infusion and Osteoporosis Center in Billings. When that facility closed, she began seeing Dr. John Jenkins and Danielle Babcock, PA, at SCL Health Medical Group - Billings Rheumatology.
“There was a time where we had tried so many methods to make my rheumatoid arthritis better that just weren't working,” Plant said. “After my first infusion treatment, the relief was incredible.”
Kristi ran into issues travelling between Miles City and Billings, though. When she was getting her infusions in Billings, this would often require that she take a full day of travel, as she would need to get to the facility at 8 a.m. to start the infusion process that would often take 6 hours to complete. Many times, she would not be able to drive following her treatment, as she would often not feel well or be drowsy from the pre-infusion medications. This required that she get a friend or family member to drive her, or she stay in Billings for the night, which was an additional cost. Fortunately, she was lucky enough to not have treatments during bad winter days, as she receives her infusion treatments every four months, which coincidentally did not coincide with any harsh winter days.
After a discussion with the team at St. Vincent Healthcare, it was suggested that she receive her infusions at Holy Rosary, thus saving her the time and money of travelling to Billings.
Holy Rosary’s Infusion Services team offers a wide range of treatments for several different health issues in addition to rheumatoid arthritis.These include antimicrobial therapy for infections, chemotherapy for cancer treatment, immunoglobulins for immune deficiency disorders, infusions for Crohn's disease, psoriatic arthritis and much more. Often, if there is an IV treatment available, the team can typically offer this within their infusion center.
“Prior to receiving an infusion, the patient is assessed to ensure that they are healthy enough for the infusion,” said Katie Donnelly, Nurse Manager of Infusion Services at Holy Rosary. “Patients need to meet certain criteria to be treated. After it is determined that a patient can receive their treatment, an IV is placed and the patient is monitored closely throughout the infusion. Oftentimes, the patient may be monitored for up to an hour after completion, in case there happens to be a reaction to the treatment.”
All nurses in Holy Rosary’s Infusion Center are certified in chemotherapy and biotherapy use and are capable of aiding in the infusion process. Speak with your primary care provider to see if infusion services may be the best option for you.
“When I get infusions at Holy Rosary, the team is so good to me and always provides top-notch care,” Plant said. “As an associate, it has been a great experience to see from a patient perspective how the infusion services team approaches patient care, ensuring that each need is met and that I fully understand each step of the process.”