By Julie Workman
The Center for Wound Healing and Hyperbaric Medicine at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center, commonly known as the “Wound Healing Center,” has been serving the specialized needs of their patients for over 20 years.
Dr. Marcia Hauter, the Wound Healing Center’s Medical Director, estimates that over the years, she and her team have treated more than 10,000 wounds at their state-of-the-art outpatient facility.
“Most of our patients are over age 65, but our treatments and therapies can help anyone who is suffering from a wound that won’t heal,” says Dr. Hauter. “At any time, 6.7 million Americans are living with a chronic wound. At the Wound Healing Center, we can help almost all of them heal within six to twelve weeks, even when conventional treatments have failed.”
A wound (any area where “skin is open”) may benefit from the proven, best-practice methodologies at the Wound Healing Center if it hasn’t begun to heal in two weeks or is not completely healed in six weeks.
Our key to successful treatment is learning about the patient, not just their wound. The Wound Healing Center staff is specially trained to not only gather information about the patient’s medical history and other doctors, but to actively listen and to think of patients holistically, which helps them to understand the root cause of the wound that they’re treating.
“A patient’s first appointment may take up to 90 minutes, because we know that if we ask the right questions, we can learn a lot about our patients and develop a treatment plan that will really work for them,” Dr. Hauter explains. “For example, we could learn that a patient we’re treating for a pressure ulcer has been sleeping in a recliner because they have difficulty getting in and out of bed. We could learn that a patient with a wound on their back lives alone, and won’t be able to change their dressing properly.”
Self-referrals are welcome at the Wound Healing Center, so anyone suffering from a wound that won’t heal can come in for treatment.
“Some of the most common wounds we see at our Center are caused by neuropathy,” Dr. Hauter says. “Neuropathy is a condition in which the nerve supply to your skin is compromised. It most commonly affects the extremities, like your feet, and can be caused by a variety of conditions including diabetes, chronic back pain, and pinched nerves.”
“The damaged nerves leave a patient without the ability to feel sensations in their feet, so they may suffer an injury and not feel the pain. We sometimes see similar conditions in construction workers—generally they can feel their feet, but they’ve stepped on a nail or something and don’t even notice the wound until they take off their boots at the end of the day and see a bloody sock.”
Not all wounds are visible, and the Center can help treat those, too. “Many of our patients come to us after they complete radiation treatments for prostate or uterine cancer,” Dr. Hauter continues. “Months or years following treatment the after-effects of the radiation can cause bleeding of the internal lining of the bladder. These patients can often benefit from Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment (HBOT).”
“When we’re breathing ‘room air,’ we breathe in about 21 percent oxygen—the maximum amount of oxygen that your blood vessels and cells can carry,” Dr. Hauter explains. “When a patient has an HBOT treatment, they enter the hyperbaric oxygen chamber, which delivers 100 percent oxygen to their cells via increased air pressure within the chamber. The increased pressure forces the oxygen molecules to saturate the plasma in their blood, therefore delivering deeper oxygen penetration to the tissues that need healing, and speeding up the process.”
The efficacy of HBOT is proven by a post-treatment scope of the affected area, which shows improvement and healing of the injured tissue.
Missy Smith is a Certified Hyperbaric Registered Nurse (CHRN), and the Clinical Program Director at the Center. In addition to seeing patients, Smith oversees the daily business and operations of the Center, including community education. She not only works with patients but enjoys a close relationship with Dr. Hauter and the Center’s other two physicians, Dr. Marito Favila, and Dr. Caroline Halperin.
Smith says that aside from the relationships the staff builds with their patients, working with this team of doctors is particularly rewarding. “Dr. Hauter and our other physicians agree that the best way to help is to get to know our patients. All of our doctors have a special talent for remembering the individual patient and their unique circumstances, which allows us to work together to create an effective treatment plan.”
“We’re all very passionate about what happens here and how well we take care of our patients,” Smith continues. “The teamwork and collaboration between the Wound Healing Center’s doctors, nurses, and technicians is all for the benefit of our patients, and that’s what makes us successful.”
It’s this kind of attention to detail and focus on the individual’s need that earns accolades from industry peers and patients alike.
Advocate BroMenn’s Wound Healing Center is partnered with Healogics, the nation’s largest provider of advanced wound care services.
“The partnership with Healogics has been a win for everyone,” according to Smith. “Our relationship with Healogics ensures that we deliver the best comprehensive care plan to our patients, and they provide our staff with continuing education, so we know how to utilize the latest advanced technology to optimize our clinical outcomes.”
“Wound Centers are of great interest right now because of our aging population. Estimates say that 10,000 people turn 65 every day, and as people age, management of chronic diseases and their associated complications—like wounds that don’t heal properly—will become a bigger and bigger concern. We are fortunate to have an established partnership with Healogics so we can stay on the leading edge as wound treatments continue to advance,” Smith says.
“Our patients come to us in crisis,” Dr. Hauter explains. “They’re usually suffering from a painful, persistent open wound that is impairing their quality of life. They don’t know what to expect when they come in, so we follow our thorough intake process and develop a personalized treatment plan, which, in many cases, is a new experience for our patients.”
“We may recommend Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy to get more healing oxygen to their wound; we may simply recommend some physical therapy and a new assistive mobility device, or anything in between.”
“Whatever is right for the patient, our goal is to have them healed and released from our care within six to twelve weeks. In that short time, we are able to build extraordinary relationships.”
Wound Care Glossary
Angiogenesis – The production of new blood vessels.
Debridement – The surgical removal of devitalized, or contaminated tissue.
Diabetic neuropathy – Lack of sensation because of nerve damage.
Edema – The medical term for swelling, caused by injury, inflammation or any number of other medical problems.
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) – A medical treatment in which the patient is entirely enclosed in a chamber, breathing 100 percent oxygen at greater than one atmosphere pressure.
Ischemic – A medical term used to describe poor blood to an area of the body.
Ischemic ulcers – Can develop on the feet and legs due to poor blood flow. These wounds can be slow to heal.
Neuropathy – A disease or dysfunction of one or more peripheral nerves, typically causing numbness or weakness. It is the most common complication of diabetes.
Neuropathic ulcers – Ulcers of the foot, most commonly associated with diabetes.
Peristomal skin irritations – The peristomal skin is an area approximately 4×4 inches, right around a stoma. People with ileostomies have the most skin complications, followed by people with urostomies and colostomies.
Stoma – An artificial opening made into a hollow organ, especially one on the surface of the body leading to the gut or trachea.
Surgical wound – A cut or incision in the skin that is usually made by a scalpel during surgery; can also be the result of a drain placed during surgery. They are usually closed with sutures, but are sometimes left open to heal.
Ulcer – An open sore on an external or internal surface of the body, caused by a break in the skin or mucous membrane that fails to heal.
Venous insufficiency – Failure of the veins to adequately circulate the blood, especially from the lower extremities.
Vasculitis – Is inflammation of a blood vessel or blood vessels.
The Wound Care Center Can Help With:
- Diabetic ulcers
- Neuropathic ulcers
- Pressure ulcers
- Ischemic ulcers
- Venous insufficiency
- Surgical wounds
- Traumatic wounds
- Peristomal skin irritations
- Other chronic, non-healing wounds
If you or someone you love is suffering from a wound that won’t heal, call the Center today.
The Center for Wound Healing and Hyperbaric Medicine at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center is located on the hospital campus on the lower level of Medical Office Building I at 1302 Franklin Avenue in Normal. Learn more at www.advocatehealth.com/bromenn/health-services/wound-care/ or call 268-2920 to schedule an appointment.