When first hearing of a wound care center, someone might wonder about the need for such a center, associating a wound with a basic injury requiring stitches.
But some wounds are chronic and require specialized treatment. Typically, a wound that does not respond to normal medical care within 30 days is considered a chronic wound.
That’s where the Iredell Wound Care & Hyperbaric Center can help. With treatments available including debridement, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, dressing selection, special shoes, and patient education, people with chronic wounds have a place to turn.
This week, June 3 to June 7, Iredell Wound Care & Hyperbaric Center team members will wear ribbons to recognize Wound Care Awareness Week. They hope the holiday can help educate the community about the importance of wound care healing and proper nutrition.
Chronic wounds can occur unexpectedly from inadequate circulation or poorly functioning veins, and can originate beneath the skin before eventually opening. They can result from injuries, radiation therapy, cancer treatment, and a handful of other causes, like diabetes. More than 30.3 million Americans have diabetes, and almost two million are expected to develop a diabetic foot ulcer or other chronic wound.
Chronic wounds can be deep and then expand. One patient was unaware he had a chicken bone stuck in his shoe for several weeks. By the time he came to the wound care center, he had a very large wound. For those who have had prior foot wounds, staff members recommend the patient conduct a weekly or monthly foot check to make sure their feet appear healthy, because oftentimes they lack sensation. Someone might step on nail and not even know it.
An aging population with increasing rates of diabetes, obesity, and the late effects of radiation therapy has fueled a growing number of people living with chronic wounds, now estimated at 6.7 million.
Left untreated, chronic wounds can lead to diminished quality of life and possible amputation of the affected limb.
When a patient is referred to the Iredell Wound Care & Hyperbaric Center by their physician, they meet with staff members to determine an optimal treatment plan. Recognizing patient individuality and varying responses to treatments, the center conducts specialized treatments and dressings.
“You come see us, and we can help heal that and figure out what’s going on,” said Caroline Land, program director of the Iredell Wound Care & Hyperbaric Center.
A 39-year-old Charlotte woman with lupus desperately tried various treatments at wound care centers across the Charlotte area for over a year before finding success at the Iredell Wound Care & Hyperbaric Center in 2018.
Part of the healing process can be debriding the wound, cutting out bad tissue to allow new tissue to grow. Bio-engineered skin substitutes can then be used to help the patient again produce their own skin cells.
To prevent surgery and speed healing, patients may undergo hyperbaric oxygen therapy, exposing the body to 100 percent oxygen at high pressure. Not only for deep sea divers treating decompression sickness or for athletes such as Michael Phelps boosting muscle recovery from training, the versatile technology regenerates healthy tissue to heal wounds.
The chamber’s transparency eases claustrophobic patients, and the phone attached to the chamber facilitates constant communication and feedback between the patient and chamber operator. Lying in the chamber with oxygen blowing continuously at 100 percent for 90 minutes to two hours, the patient has time to relax, watch TV, or take a nap.
Receiving center distinction annually for surpassing quality measures, the Iredell Wound Care Center has won the Robert A. Warner Center of Excellence award for 10 consecutive years, consistently achieving the requirements of a patient satisfaction rate higher than 92 percent and a wound healing rate higher than 91 percent within 30 median days.
The center applies an interdisciplinary model of care working in conjunction with the referring physician, including infectious-disease management, physical therapy, occupational therapy, laboratory evaluation, nutritional management, pain management, diabetic education, and radiology testing.
“We just had somebody reach out to us talking about how much they love the staff at the wound care center,” Land said. “Since patients come in to have treatment on a frequent basis, they become like family. You’re making progress and celebrating these successes together.”
Someone concerned about a wound failing to heal should discuss it with their primary care physician.
“The staff members are very compassionate,” Land said. “I see how they interact with the patients and how the patients love and respect them. They have that bond and that rapport with them. When the patients come in, they feel overwhelmed with generosity. And then knowing that they can be taken care of and healed and get back in their normal lives, it’s the icing on the cake.”
For more information on the Iredell Wound Care & Hyperbaric Center, call 704-768-0542.