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Wound care

Via Christi Wound Care provides outpatient services for those who have chronic wounds — those that have not shown significant healing in 30 days, or that haven’t completely healed in eight weeks.

Often, these wounds relate to other medical conditions, such as:

  • Ulcers (diabetic, neuropathic, pressure, ischemic)
  • Venous insufficiency (impairment of blood flow through veins)
  • Traumatic wounds
  • Surgical wounds
  • Vasculitis (inflammation in the blood vessels)
  • Peristomal skin irritations

For example, in a person who is diabetic, it’s common to get foot ulcers because there’s no blood supply, and tissue dies. If that person has high blood sugar, that will diminish his or her ability to fight infection. It can be the perfect storm for a wound to occur.

The important thing is for a patient to seek a medical opinion as soon a problem is suspected. The sooner a patient is evaluated, the simpler the treatment can be, and the more likely that it will heal properly.

With a doctor's referral, the highly qualified staff evaluates the wound in conjunction with a patient's overall health. Directed by a physician specializing in wound care, the team includes another physician, an advanced practice registered nurse, a clinical nurse manager, a case manager, a hyperbarics technician, and an office coordinator. 

What to expect

At the first appointment, a patient will undergo preliminary tests to assess the blood circulation to arms and legs. Debridement — or cleaning up of an infected wound — may be necessary. Then, a case management team will evaluate physical, emotional and other needs. Each patient’s progress is tracked through weekly visits. 

After examination, the medical director may decide that a patient is a good candidate for Via Christi's hyperbaric therapy in one of two pressurized chambers, each made of acrylic that’s an inch and a half thick. These chambers can increase the oxygen level of a patient in order to speed the process of healing. As a patient inhales, his or her blood carries the extra oxygen to the injured area to promote new healing.

Hyperbaric therapy takes about two hours, during which a patient can comfortably rest or watch television through the windows. 

Additional testing, including wound culturing, may be needed to help determine the most effective approach to treatment and ongoing care. Personalized clinical care plans are developed based on the type of wound a person has and what caused it. Each wound varies, and treatment can be just as varied.

The wound care team will develop a treatment plan with the referring physician and the patient and adapt it later as necessary. The tools for treatment may include a whirlpool, electrical stimulation, vacuum-assisted closure, compression wraps, biological skin substitutes, vascular elevations and patient and family education. 

Additional services, including nursing care, physical therapy, nutritional considerations or pharmaceutical interventions, also may be recommended. Education is provided in order to help patients prevent future wounds.

To ensure that a patient is receiving the highest quality, most appropriate care for his or her situation, a panel of consulting clinicians will regularly review the treatment plan.

The goal is to have a patient completely healed in 14 weeks.

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