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Wound Care Center opens at Lehigh Regional

July 18, 2018
By MEGHAN McCOY (news@breezenewspapers.com) , Lehigh Acres Citizen

On June 18, the Lehigh Regional Medical Center opened its Wound Care Center with five exam rooms and two hyperbaric chambers on the same campus as the hospital.

"There's a part of the community that really needs this," hyperbaric technician Joe Miller said.

The new center will help the population that either does not want to make the trip into Fort Myers, or does not have the means of transportation to do so.

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Lehigh Regional Medical Center Wound Care Center hyperbaric technician Joe Miller stands in front of a hyperbaric chamber.

MEGHAN MCCOY

"There are some people that will not drive into Fort Myers and their wound will keep on deteriorating. This might be their saving grace. Maybe it's limited income or transportation. It's a lot of things. We really talk about wound care near you," Lehigh Regional Medical Center Business Development Marketing Manager Jennifer Marshall said.

The center will not only help Lehigh Acres residents, but those of LaBelle, Clewiston and Immokalee. The Lehigh Wound Center is one of four in the area.

"Hopefully we can take that void away from those people, so they can get the care that they need," Miller said.

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Hyperbaric oxygen therapy provides a patient with pure oxygen inside a pressurized chamber. The oxygen safely and quickly delivers high concentrations of oxygen to a patient's bloodstream, which helps the body naturally heal its wound. The therapy reduces swelling, fights infections and builds new blood vessels to create healthy tissues.

Miller said most of the patients they see have either a diabetic wound, or radiation injury.

"The diabetic patient comes in because they have gone through routine wound care and that wound care is not quite getting it to heal fast enough," he said. "At that point the hyperbaric oxygen actually pushes that oxygen into the wound bed."

Other treatments include post surgical wounds; chronic non-healing wounds; venous stasis ulcers; lymphedema; traumatic wounds with significant tissue loss; pressure ulcers; dehisced surgical wounds; graphs and skin flaps; second and third degree burns and other wounds that are a result of complex medical conditions.

Individuals should seek medical advice for this type of treatment if they have a wound that has not healed in 30 days, a sore that has increased in pain, redness or swelling, has a foul odor or changes color, or they have an infected surgical wound.

Some of the patients need the advanced treatment because they have compromises to their vascular system.

"What happens with the 100 percent oxygen and increased pressure is it actually pushes it past the hypogloben into the plasma, so it is pushing it into the liquid part of the body," Miller explained. "As a patient breathes it, it actually pushes it straight into the body and the body senses that it has a wound and it tries to get as much oxygen to that spot."

The patients treatment are the same, being in the chamber for two hours. The difference for the patients is how many treatments they are going to be doing, which typically is a minimum of 20.

While the patient is in the hyperbaric chamber they have the opportunity to relax, look up at clouds in the ceiling tiles, take a nap, or watch a movie while receiving treatment.

Miller said the only thing a patient may feel when in the chamber is ear pressure, similar to what one might feel while flying.

"As long as you are able to clear your ears it is really an easy treatment," he said.

One of Miller's many jobs is making sure the patient feels comfortable while in the chamber. He said many times they feel anxious because they are going into a closed tube and feel like they do not have control.

"I'm trying to reassure them by saying that any point you want out, just let me know," Miller said. "I'm not going to try and keep you in there, but once a person gets in and gets acclimated and we turn the TV on it goes like that."

When a patient is in the chamber Miller can hear them at all times. He is also able to talk to them by picking up a phone on the outside of the chamber. He also tells the patient to knock on the glass if they are afraid Miller will not hear them.

"If there is someone in this chamber I am always in here. I will not leave this room," he said.

Marshall said it is a sense of calmness when the patient can see Miller walking by.

If a patient needs to get out in the middle of their treatment, it typically takes 10 minutes to finish the process. If need be, Miller said he can get them out in 30 seconds, but he does not want to do that because it can rupture the patient's ear drums and lungs.

"I can get them out in seven minutes pretty safely. A usual bring up at a nice safe pace is 10 minutes," Miller said.

Once the patient exits the chamber the treatment is finished for that day.

"When patients are coming here it is their last chance. They are pretty sick," he said. "There is a lot of compassion that comes into play with these people."

Once the patient is done with their two-hour treatment they can go about their day as they normally would. With that said, Miller explained that sometimes patients will come out of the chamber feeling a little bit tired because the oxygen increased their metabolism.

The patient will return the next day for another round of treatment. Miller said the best case scenario is receiving treatment five times a week with Saturday and Sunday being off days.

Miller has been in this line of work for 15 years, with the majority of that time spent in Naples, because he enjoys the satisfaction people express when their limb is still intact.

The Wound Care Center's staff includes General Surgeon and Medical Director of Wound Care and Hyperbaric Medicine Dr. Doron Finn, General Surgeon George Kopidakis, Wound Care Nurse Practitioner Sondra Bantis and Miller.

The center is located within the Lehigh Medical Plaza at 1530 Lee Boulevard, Suite 2300.

For more information call (239) 368-4561, or visit www.LehighRegional.com.

 
 

 

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