Healing Lives One Wound at a Time

December 2, 2016 Providence St. Joseph Health Team

wound-care-and-hyperbaric-medicine-stmaryA diabetic man in his early 30s stepped on broken glass in the hallway of his house, and two small pieces lodged their way into his foot.

Because of diabetic neuropathy, which is nerve damage that causes a lack of feeling in the feet, he didn’t have pain or even know the glass was stuck in his foot for nearly a week. That is, until his wife noticed the wound on the bottom of his foot. She brought her husband to the St. Mary Center for Wound Care and Hyperbaric Medicine, where a podiatrist removed the glass and treated his wound.

“People with diabetes need to inspect their feet daily because the blood is not circulating well down there,” said Carrie Dixon, wound care director. “If this patient had not come to our center for treatment, this situation could have been much more debilitating and damaging. His wound could have become severely infected, that infection could have then spread to the bone and caused gangrene, and eventually he could have had a limb amputation. These are the types of serious situations we see every day.”

The St. Mary Center for Wound Care and Hyperbaric Medicine in Apple Valley, California, opened in 2010 as an outpatient facility dedicated to the treatment of chronic and non-healing wounds. As the only specialized wound care clinic in the High Desert, the center treats patients of all ages for diabetic wounds, lower-extremity wounds, vascular problems, some burns, ulcers and other medical issues.

Proper treatment of wounds is critical and will prevent medical complications and possible amputation. Those who have an open wound for more than 30 days should be seen by a specialist at the wound care center, said Dixon.

At the center, a multispecialty team of dedicated physicians works together to heal patients, using the most advanced wound care techniques and products, from skin grafts to biological skin substitutes and hyperbaric oxygen therapy chambers. This team is comprised of general surgeons, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon, a vascular surgeon, an infectious disease physician and a podiatrist, as well as nurses who are wound care certified and diabetic wound care certified.

“A lot of patients go to their primary care doctor for a chronic wound, but they aren’t specialists in wound care and often don’t have all of the proper supplies or care techniques,” Dixon said. “Just like you’d go to an endocrinologist for your kidneys, you’d come to the wound care center to see a specialist when it comes to ‘ouwies’.”

Treating a chronic wound is often more than skin deep. Specialists at the wound center see firsthand how it can truly heal lives.

“Giving hope to those with chronic wounds is huge. We have people come to our center who have had a wound for what seems like forever, and they’re frustrated because it affects their quality of life on a daily basis. For people with a wound on their foot or leg, it’s physically hard to even get out and take a walk. Sometimes there is a distinct smell with a wound and that affects their confidence,” Dixon said. “We want people to know that we are here, and we will help them heal.” 

This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your health care professional's instructions.


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