Wound Healing Center uses holistic approach

Published on Wed, Jul 28, 2010
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Living with a wound that won’t heal can be a burden on your mind and body. Just ask Carol and Ray Dellecker, who care for their elderly, yet relatively independent, family member, Carmel Dellecker.

“We’ve grappled for years with the difficulty of coordinating Carmel’s care among a myriad of physicians, and ensuring professional attention to her wounds,” Ray Dellecker said.
Carmel experienced frequent pain and discomfort from a longstanding wound on her toe. She had been treated previously with antibiotics for a possible infection, but this treatment was largely unsuccessful.

About five million Americans suffer from chronic wounds. A chronic wound is a wound that fails to heal within one month. The causes of wounds are complex, and chronic wounds can result from seemingly minor injuries. Often, these wounds won’t heal due to a variety of factors such as age, diet, circulatory problems, diabetes, arthritis, kidney disease and smoking cigarettes.

A wound that hasn’t healed in 30 days threatens your health and lifestyle. If left untreated, these wounds can lead to additional problems, such as infection of your bone or blood. Early treatment, on the other hand, decreases your risk for amputation, and it increases your ability to regain independence and improve your life.

PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center recognized the need for specialized wound care in Whatcom County and responded by creating the Wound Healing Center in Bellingham.

The Center utilizes proven wound healing methods and advanced technology, including two hyperbaric oxygen chambers, to help deliver on their mission of healing and compassionate care.

The Wound Healing Center is staffed with a team of caring doctors, nurses, therapists and staff who have undergone a very rigorous and specialized training by nationally recognized wound care experts. This group is dedicated to healing chronic wounds and represents expertise in all of the major areas necessary to handle the varied circumstances and challenges that accompany them.

“The Wound Healing Center has been a blessing to us for the care and doctor coordination provided to Carmel,” Carol Dellecker said.

The Wound Healing Center uses a holistic approach to the care and treatment of wounds, making them experts at caring for people whose wounds have resisted traditional treatment.

Prior to treatment, the team at the Wound Healing Center thoroughly evaluates the patient’s wound(s) and reviews their health and medical history.

Their team make it a priority to determine the underlying cause of the wound in order to prevent the progression of the current wound, and decrease the likelihood of future wounds. Tests may be conducted to learn more about the patient’s blood flow, tissue oxygenation and to determine if there is an infection present.

Aside from the pain in her toe, Carmel was not exhibiting symptoms that would have triggered her family to have her evaluated immediately. However, after a thorough examination at the Wound Healing Center, doctors diagnosed Carmel with peripheral vascular disease. This disease made it difficult for Carmel’s wound to heal due to the poor circulation that accompanies it.

“The Wound Healing Center detected a health condition more dire than the wounds for which we originally sought treatment,” Ray Dellecker said. “They even facilitated us being able to see a primary care physician and cardiologist immediately. This was a valuable service, since finding a primary care physician willing to accept a new Medicare patient was extremely challenging.”

Individualized treatment and education plans are developed to address each patient’s individual needs. While Carmel was cared for at the Wound Healing Center, she and her family learned about poor circulation, the importance of preventing further injuries and how to care for these injuries when they did occur.

As seen in a number of patients with poor circulation, chronic wounds are likely to be a recurring problem. After visiting the Wound Healing Center, these patients are able to identify wounds that may become problematic. Because of this, they return to the Wound Healing Center for treatment much earlier in the process, allowing the team to care for the wounds at an earlier stage.

“Due to the Wound Healing Center’s fine care, Carmel’s wounds have healed. We are simply astounded, delighted and very grateful for the excellent care the Wound Healing Center has provided,” Carol Dellecker said.

The physicians at the Wound Healing Center use specialized techniques, and they follow established processes known to provide consistent, successful results. For example, wound debridement is a process in which the wounds are carefully cleaned on a regular basis, encouraging the growth of healthy skin cells. Special dressings are often applied to create an ideal environment for healing. Most patient’s wounds heal using these established wound care protocols.

Not all patients require Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy, though it is recommended for some. This state-of-the-art technology allows patients to breathe 100 percent oxygen at an increased atmospheric pressure.

This process increases the amount of oxygen in the patient’s blood, allowing red blood cells to pass more easily through the plasma and into the wounds to heal them from the inside out. It is a painless, proven way to help the body heal.

The chambers resemble a reclining bed, and they come fully equipped with equipment that allows patients to listen to music, or watch movies or television during the 90-minute treatment. 

The team at the Wound Healing Center maintains constant communication with the patient’s referring physician.
They provide comprehensive reports that detail the wound’s progress, including images of the wound from the beginning stages of the healing process through the patient’s discharge. Once the wound is healed, the patient returns to their primary care physician for follow-up care.

If you have a wound that has not healed in 30 days, find out more about diagnosis and treatment options by visiting www.peacehealth.org/whatcom/phmg, or call 360/788-7733.

Most of the Wound Healing Center’s treatments are covered by Medicare/Medicaid, HMOs and other private insurance plans.