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LRMC's Wound Center has high rate of cures

July 23, 2010

The Wound Care Institute, which opened six years ago, began because two passionate doctors at Lehigh Regional Medical Center knew there were other treatments available to help patients heal faster.

William "Oscar" Gamble, the director of rehabilitation and the Wound Care Institute said he knew there was something better out there for wounds than the whirlpool treatments patients were receiving and wanted to make a change.

"I was frustrated and knew there was a better way," Gamble said about treating wounds.

Article Photos

Director of Rehabilitation and the Wound Care Institute William 'Ocscar' Gamble, left, and Dr. Chris Calcagni, stand in front of the entrance to the Wound Care Institute at the Lehigh Medical Plaza. Photo by Meghan McCoy

Six months after Gamble recruited and trained other medical professionals for the center, along with purchasing some state of the art equipment the Lehigh Medical Plaza opened with a grand opening on July 1, 2004.

The Wound Care Institute at Lehigh Medical Center provides patients with a specialized and comprehensive course of therapy to assist in the healing of a problem wound.

Lehigh Regional Medical Center CEO Chris Rakunas said the Wound Care Institute has been successful because of the knowledge and holistic approach the staff applies, along with the techniques utilized during a patients' treatment.

The Institute currently has a healing rate of about 99 percent, which he said is because of the highly talented staff and technology they have. The other one percent, Gamble said is usually a result from patients not really wanting to be helped.

"We want to push that 99 percent bar as much as we can," Rakunas said.

In 2009 the center healed 100 percent of their patients, which is an increase of more than two percent of the Wound Expert's EMR database benchmark. The healing was accomplished within four weeks on average, which is four weeks faster than the Wound Expert's EMR database benchmark. The nation's average of wound healing is 85-87 percent within 16 weeks.

"The percent of healing is very important to us," Gamble said.

He said he is proud of the center because of his staff. There are more than 20 people who work at the institute, along with four regular physicians who are at the center all week long.

I have a very groomed, talented staff that are great at their job, he said.

He said the center also welcomes students from Florida Gulf Coast University to do their internship at the wound center. Doctors from their sister facilities also come to the center to train with them for a couple of days, Gamble said.

Gamble said the center has applied a new concept to the medical field, staff working together.

"Information is constantly being shared," he said, so various strategies can be applied to help patients more.

There is a constant free flow of information with the staff and the patients. Gamble said he believes it is important to have the wealth of knowledge shared with patients, so they fully understand the treatment they are receiving and why.

Every morning Gamble has a 15-minute meeting at the beginning of the work day to share a different inspiring quote of the day to get everyone energized about the new day ahead of them.

He said health care should not be labor; it should be about patients feeling they are going to get better and treated well.

"You have to be really compassionate," Gamble said.

Gamble also is one of 12 board members for the Health Trust Purchasing Group, which provides him with the opportunity to learn a great deal about the equipment being used for wound care. He said it also provides him with the ability to have the latest equipment at his center due to the knowledge he gains.

The piece of equipment the staff is most excited about having is the Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Chamber.

The chamber provides treatment in a pressurized environment, so the patient can breathe 100 percent oxygen, which raises the tissue oxygen levels 10 to 13 times their normal levell, therefore healing the wound at a faster rate.

Wil Killmer, board certified Hyperbaric Technologist said the treatment lasts two hours, five days a week. There is an air hose inside the chamber that a patient can adjust so they are comfortable, along with a television above the chamber so they have something to watch while receiving the treatment.

"They usually bring in their own DVDs or they can choose one from the library," he said.

Killmer said the hyperbaric treatment boosts a patient's white blood cells and reduces swelling. He said the chamber creates the best physical condition to heal themselves faster.

Gamble said the Lehigh Medical Plaza has the first chamber that talks to the computer by providing the patients information. He said a facility like the Wound Care Institute was possible because you "always remain humble, so you are blinded in your vision."

For information call (239) 368-4561. The Wound Care Institute at Lehigh Regional Medical Center is located inside the Lehigh Medical Plaza at 1530 Lee Blvd., Suite 2300.



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