SSM Health Medical Group and St. Francis Hospital are pleased to announce the opening of a bone health clinic on May 11 led by orthopedic nurse practitioner Eric Willoughby, DNP.

“One in two women over the age of 50 can be expected to sustain an osteoporosis related fracture in her remaining lifetime,” Willoughby stated. “Osteoporosis is a treatable disease, and here at SSM Health, we are looking to identify the most appropriate way to address the osteoporosis problem. We have developed a bone health clinic using evidence-based guidelines for screening and treatment of osteoporosis in order to reduce fracture risk.”

According to The Joint Commission, 37 percent of women between the ages of 50 and 59, 50 percent of women 60 to 69 and 87 percent of women over 80 are affected by osteoporosis. A woman’s risk of hip fracture is greater than her risk of breast, uterine and ovarian cancer combined. Hospital costs of osteoporosis-related fracture are greater than that of heart attack, stroke and breast cancer.

In the two years after Medicare authorized reimbursement for bone density screening, only 23 percent of eligible women were screened. In a recent study of a rural internal medicine clinic in Missouri, only 33.9 percent of eligible women were screened for bone density.

“It is important to know that guidelines do not recommend only treating women based on osteoporosis diagnosis from DXA (dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry) bone screening,” Willoughby explained. ”A treatment may also be indicated based on history of hip fracture, spine fracture or other low-impact fracture.”

Treatment options can also vary according to diagnosis.

“Calcium and vitamin D supplementation alone may not be sufficient to protect from osteoporosis and fractures,” Willoughby said. “There are numerous pharmaceutical choices available and effective but use of those medications need to be discussed with a provider before deciding on a treatment plan.”

Willoughby has been a nurse practitioner working in orthopedics for 19 years. He has been at St. Francis nearly 10 years. He completed his doctorate at Saint Louis University in 2017 where his primary focus was on fracture prevention in postmenopausal women.

Willoughby will be the featured speaker at an upcoming Lunch & Learn program on osteoporosis and the bone health clinic at noon on May 25 at the Maryville Community Center’s upper meeting room. Those interested in attending are asked to call Jackie Ross at 660.562.7945 to reserve a spot.

“There are over 300,000 hip fractures annually related to osteoporosis and 23 percent of individuals sustaining a hip fracture will die within a year,” Willoughby said. “Our bone health clinic will offer a comprehensive program to evaluate fracture risk, educate and treat patients in their decisions related to low bone mass, osteoporosis and related fractures.”

The clinic will open May 11, be held Friday afternoons starting at 1 pm and be located inside the surgical specialties suite across from the emergency department waiting room at SSM Health St. Francis Hospital, 2016 South Main Street, Maryville.

Patients can be referred to the clinic by their primary care providers or self-referrals are also welcome.