July 22, 2017

Wound Healing Gets a Boost at MedStar

Healing
Elmer Bowling of Chaptico, center, says the hours he was in the hyperbaric oxygen chamber were worth it to heal the wound on his foot. Wound Healing Center associates pictured with him are, from left, Jodi Black, RN; Emily Stiegman, RN; and Dawn Kilinski, RN.

The human body’s capacity for healing is amazing, but sometimes it needs a little help. Chronic wounds can cause serious problems, but MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital is able to provide a boost when needed.

“When a person has a wound that isn’t getting better in a matter of two or three weeks, then it is time to ask the question, ‘What’s getting in the way?’” said Dr. Richard Greengold, medical director of the MedStar Health Wound Healing Center at MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital in Leonardtown, Maryland.

Two recent MedStar patients have shared their stories. Chaptico resident Elmer Bowling and Stephen Szepsi of Mechanicsville turned to the Wound Healing Center after amputation of a toe due to infection.

“I had a cut on my toe and 10 days later it looked like a shark bite,” Mr. Szepsi said.

Treatment with antibiotics wasn’t helping, so Mr. Szepsi’s primary care doctor suggested surgery and then a consultation with the Wound Healing Center.

“When treatment with a primary care doctor doesn’t result in wound closure, advance treatments including hyperbaric oxygen therapy, cellular based tissue products, wound vacs and compression dressings may be needed to improve a patient’s chance for healing,” said Alicia “Lisa” Nelson, the center’s program director.

“We diabetics take so much longer to heal and are much more susceptible to infection,” said Mr. Szepsi, who was able to receive treatment with a wound vac three times a week for around two months. “I can’t even say how many people were surprised at how well my foot healed, even the surgeon.”

Mr. Bowling’s recovery took much longer, involving multiple treatments and more surgery to place stents in both sides of his leg, increasing blood flow to his foot.

“The infection was climbing up my leg,” said Mr. Bowling, who is 72 and also diabetic. A major component of his treatment was hyperbaric oxygen therapy. “Being in the chamber never bothered me,” he said. “The therapy made my foot heal much faster.”

“Most people can heal wounds with the right conditions,” said Dr. Greengold, “but sometimes getting the conditions right means stopping something that hasn’t been effective and sometimes it means adding new treatments.”

“We understand how non-healing wounds impact your quality of life,” said Ms. Nelson, “and we want the community to be confident they can receive top-level care at our center.”

Visit the MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital Wound Care website for more information about the center, or call 240-434-7670.

For more information and one-click access to a full list of resources available at MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital, visit their Leader Page.

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