Update 9/7/2017: When I originally published this blog post on 8/22/2017 it was completely positive and complimentary. When I found out that I could get my medication for 1/10th the cost from Canada, and Sanford Health would not give me a prescription slip to get my medications from Canada, my impression of Sanford Health became very negative. When I received my bill today, it was reasonable, so I am editing this blog post.
For the past three years in North Dakota, about four times each year, I have had a severe allergy attack. The worst part about these allergy attacks is that my eyes become so swollen and sensitive to light, that I can not see well enough to drive. In order to not lose my job, I have driven anyway, when I should not have.
I did not want to go to a doctor in North Dakota, because I was afraid of what kind of doctor I would get, and how much money I would be charged. I have had mostly bad experiences in trying to get anything done in North Dakota, that would have been normal and ordinary things to do in other states.
I had to stay home on Sunday and Monday because I was having an allergy attack, and I could not see well enough to drive. I realized that I really needed to find out about getting a strong antihistamine to use in an emergency, almost something like people who are allergic to bee stings might use in an emergency. I went to a pharmacist on Tuesday morning and I asked him if there was any prescription strength antihistamine that I could use in an emergency to stop the swelling of my eyes. He said that yes there was, and he wrote two of them down, Pataday and Prednisone.
I went to an optometrist’s office in Dickinson, and the earliest appointment that I could get was more than several weeks away. I had not wanted to go to the Sanford Health Clinic because I was worried about what kind of doctor I would get, and how much money it would cost. I talked myself into going to Sanford Health, hoping that the walk-in clinic visit would not be much more than $200.
I went into the Sanford Health walk-in clinic, and both of the check-in/admitting women were available. Both of these women were pleasant and professional acting, and check-in was fairly quick. I had to wait less than five minutes for a nurse to come and get me, she was older with grey hair, but she was also pleasant and professional acting.
There was a second nurse already waiting in the exam/treatment room, she was nice, in her mid-thirties. The first nurse checked my weight, heart rate, and blood pressure, while the second nurse asked me some questions about my medical problem this day. The first nurse and the second nurse spent less than five minutes with me. In the back of my mind, I was thinking that this was probably some scheme by Sanford Health to charge me for two nurse consultations/treatments to increase my bill.
Lastly, I got who struck me as the Marinna Marsh of medical doctors, Dr. Nicole Marie Wilson-Hall from Indiana. She was very attractive with long blonde hair, and friendly disposition. I thought that I was very lucky, but I was worried how much this would cost me. Dr. Nicole Marie Wilson-Hall is a locum tenens, a temporary doctor used by a medical facility to fill a staff shortage. I have seen and read job advertisements for medical doctor locum tenens in Dickinson, and they are usually paid $300 to $350 per hour. When I got home, I looked up Dr. Nicole Marie Wilson-Hall on the internet, and I found that she also works at walk-in clinics in Tampa, Florida where she lives:
Dr. Wilson Hall graduated Cum Laude from the University of Notre Dame, where she majored in Pre-Medicine and Anthropology and minored in Science, Technology, and Values. Her love of culture and travel prompted her to spend a semester abroad in Australia during her junior year of college. She graduated from St. Louis University/Scott Air Force Base’s Family Medicine program in Belleville, IL. She served four years as a family medicine physician at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota and earned an Army Accommodation Medal during Operation United Assistance in Liberia. She attended A.T. Still University of Health Sciences for medical school in Kirksville, MO and spent her two years of clinical rotations in St. Petersburg, Fl, where she and her husband fell in love with the Tampa Bay area.
I was glad to have met Dr. Captain Nicole Marie Wilson-Hall, she was attractive and nice, and she seemed very competent. She prescribed two medications, Pataday and Prednisone. I had explained to her that I had an allergic attack like this about four times per year, and that I really wanted to get an antihistamine that would stop the swelling in my eyes so that I could see well enough to drive, and not lose my job.
When she asked me what pharmacy that I wanted my prescription to be filled at, I said that I didn’t know, I guess at the Sanford Health Clinic pharmacy if the cost was the same as anywhere else. She sent the prescription to the Sanford Health Clinic pharmacy.
From the time I walked in the door to the walk-in clinic, to the time I got to the clinic pharmacy to pick up my prescription, it took about twenty minutes. I hoped at the time that I would not be charged much more than $200 for the walk-in clinic visit.
One of my prescriptions, the Pataday eye drops, cost $191 for a bottle smaller than a sewing thimble. The amount of liquid in this bottle was less than what a tea spoon would hold. I was not prepared or expecting this to cost so much. I was literally scared to try to use it, what does this cost $5 per each drop? I usually miss my eye a little bit when applying eye drops, and it takes several drops. Drop, drop, drop, there goes $15.
The Pataday eye drops, my other prescription for ten Prednisone tablets, and the walk-in clinic visit to get these prescriptions will end up costing me more than $400. I have one refill on the prescription for the Pataday eye drops. If I want to pay $191 for another Pataday refill, the first bottle and the second bottle would get me through two allergy attacks, at a cost of $591 to get me through two allergy attacks.
When I got home after picking up and paying for my two prescriptions at the Sanford Health Clinic pharmacy, I looked on the internet and I found several drug stores in Canada that sell the same bottle of Pataday eye drops for $32 per bottle, versus $191 at the Sanford Health Clinic pharmacy. These Canadian drug stores ship prescriptions by mail to the United States without any difficulty.
I called one, and then another Canadian drug store to place my order for the Pataday eye drops, and they both said that they needed the original doctor’s prescription slip for the Pataday, not the prescription label showing one refill allowed. I explained that I never got a doctor’s prescription slip, it was e-mailed from the doctor straight to the Sanford Health Clinic pharmacy. The Canadian drug stores said that they did not think that I would have any difficulty in getting the doctor to write me another prescription slip.
On Thursday 8/24/2017, I delivered a letter to the Sanford Health walk-in clinic for Dr. Nicole Wilson-Hall. The letter explained that I could get the Pataday eye drops from Canada for $7 per ml, instead of $76 per ml at the Sanford Health Clinic pharmacy, that the Canadian drug stores would not accept the refill label on the Pataday, and I asked if she could write a prescription slip for me. I was told at the check-in desk that she was gone for the rest of the week. I asked if she had a mail box that they could put the letter in for her, and they said that they would.
I knew that it might be a while before Dr. Nicole Wilson-Hall would come back to Dickinson. She might not come back at all. Later on Thursday afternoon when I was working, I received a phone call from a woman at Sanford Health, I should have asked her to repeat who she was, but I didn’t. She pretty much said that I could forget about anyone at Sanford Health writing me another prescription slip, even though I explained to her that I had one refill allowed, and that I wanted to get this one refill at some place other than the Sanford Health Clinic pharmacy.
Even though I have had nothing but bad experiences getting anything done in North Dakota, I still was not cautious, suspicious, and careful enough. Because the women at Sanford Health seemed to be pleasant, professional, and competent, I began to think that nothing was wrong. I had intended that my doctor visit and the money that I was paying, was going to allow me to have medication to treat my allergy attacks that occur about four times per year, not just this current attack plus one more. When I have a third allergy attack, I would have to go back to the Sanford Health walk-in clinic again, go through this process again, and pay the same amount of money again.
Rather than helping people, these women at Sanford Health are there to help make sure that Sanford Health makes as much money as possible, I see that now. I am really dreading the bill that I am going to get from them now. I might not pay it. I have excellent credit, and I have never not paid a bill, but I think I might not pay this one. I don’t mind explaining a hundred times why I haven’t paid this bill.
About two weeks later I received a bill from Sanford Health for the walk-in clinic visit. The bill was $158, which I think is fair and reasonable. In the end, the only thing that I am mad about, is that I wish I would have requested a prescription slip from the doctor, so that I could go home and research the best price for my medication before getting the prescription filled, most likely in Canada.