High tech healing

Marietta resident Dorie Moore thought she had lost her quality of life when a diabetic infection left her with only half of her foot.

Three months after beginning treatment at the Wound Care Center at the Belpre Medical Campus of the Memorial Health System, Moore, 40, is about to be fitted with a prosthetic foot with no infection in sight.

The Wound Care Center at the Memorial Health System celebrated with almost 600 other facilities in the Healogics Network as the health company launched its first ever Healogics National Wound Care Awareness Week that wrapped up Friday.

The week was designed to promote the healing power of the science that helped patients like Moore get back on their feet.

“This week in a nutshell, a lot of it is not only educating the public on the severity of the subject of diabetes and chronic wounds, but educating those who educate patients,” said Nate Black, director of the Wound Care Center. “We’ve spent the week discussing wound care and the importance of getting patients to a comprehensive wound center.”

The Wound Care Center has existed for 13 years, but joined the Healogics network in 2011 as a Center of Distinction.

Healogics is the national leader in terms of comprehensive wound care across the country,” Black said. “With that we can benchmark ourselves with 600 across the country and hopefully use that research to heal patients quicker.”

The national company is certified in disease-specific wound care treatment and works with hospitals, physicians and patients to advance technology used to treat chronic wounds.

The Wound Care Center’s primary equipment is its hyperbaric chambers, with two at Marietta Memorial Hospital and two at the Belpre Medical Campus.

“The effects for patients is that it hyper-oxygenates them, which promotes angiogenisis and cell growth,” said Tammy Pierce, clinical nurse manager for the Wound Care Center. “It aids in killing off bacteria, so if you have an infection in your bone it will penetrate and get rid of the infection.”

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy involves a pressurized chamber filled with 100 percent oxygen. As the patient breathes, oxygen is carried to the wound, allowing for rapid healing.

That was exactly how Moore was able to get to where she was now.

“It’s like deep sea diving where you’re pressurized for 90 minutes in what is comparable to being 30 feet under water,” she said. “Seeing the effect, they were very aggressive with my treatment. It was really amazing how quickly it healed me.”

Moore said she has an acquaintance with a similar injury, who without the same treatment, has taken much longer to heal.

“I feel like I had my quality of life back before I even should have,” she said.

Black said the concept dates back to World War II when it was used to treat Navy sailors with compression sickness from deep sea diving, but the concept of using it for wound healing is fairly new.

“Our heal rate is 91 percent,” Black said. “Wounds are healed in about 30 days, so we really feel we’re trailblazers in our area for providing chronic wound care.”

Similar centers can be found in Athens and Zanesville, but for patients of the Mid-Ohio Valley, Marietta and Belpre’s centers provide access close to home.

Black said between the centers, physicians and nurses within the wound center are treating some 600 encounters per month with weekly patient visits.

Another such patient is Harry McEldowney, 65, of Williamstown, who was left without one leg and with a vulnerable second leg after a bad accident 40 years ago.

“The other was so bad that the skin was paper thin, with little circulation, and it was so easy to hurt it,” he said. “Once it didn’t get better with antibiotics they admitted me (to the Wound Care Center).”

Doctors scraped out McEldowney’s infection and moved muscle around on the leg to increase circulation.

“They put me in the oxygen chamber for 20 treatments, and it helped my circulation,” McEldowney said. “It was quite an experience, and it was nice to have it so close.”

Though diabetic wounds are the primary target of the center, physicians there also treat everything from burns to pressure ulcers.

Black said what sets the center apart is its multi-disciplinary approach to treating chronic wounds.

“We work with vascular surgeons, primary doctors, podiatrists and infectious disease doctors to create a multi-disciplinary approach that makes us a one-stop shop for disciplinary wound care,” he said. “We have such a broad panel of physicians with all the nurses and staff, and it’s a service that can really affect people and give them their quality of life back.”

According to Black, The Wound Care Center in Marietta is currently updating its facilities and registration center to create a better patient experience, while the newer Belpre facility remains a good option for patients farther from Marietta.