“Our experience at St. Mary’s was great. My son was very happy with his care, which is saying a lot considering he’s an RRT. He was thankful for the care he received.”
Saving limbs, saving lives
Mending Hard-to-Heal Wounds
A wound or sore that won’t heal is more than just a nuisance. It can be painful and frightening, especially when your diagnosis isn’t what you want to hear. Two Apple Valley women recently learned that with the help of St. Joseph Health, St. Mary for Wound Care and Hyperbaric Medicine, a chronic or non-healing wound doesn’t need to end in amputation or a reduced quality of life — with the right staff, equipment and treatment plan — you can heal and return to doing the things you love.
SAVING LIMBS, SAVING LIVES
When Christine Gutierrez, 62, first visited the Wound Care center, she had recently experienced the trauma of a toe amputation after a non-healing diabetic foot ulcer caused irreparable damage to tissue and bone. Doctors told her she might lose some of her leg if the wound and remaining infection were unable to heal completely.
“At this point, I had little hope that my leg could be saved,” said Christine. “Doctors had recommended a below the knee amputation, and I was scared there was nothing I could do to fix it.”
The multidisciplinary staff and physicians at the Wound Care center developed a 28-week custom treatment plan for Christine that involved debridement (the medical removal of infected tissue), skin substitutes, negative pressure therapy and dozens of hyperbaric oxygen therapy treatments.
“St. Mary is the only specialized wound care clinic in the high desert with three hyperbaric oxygen chambers, allowing us to provide excellent wound care for our patients,” said Carrie Dixon, wound care director St. Joseph Health, St. Mary. “Hyperbaric treatments expose the body to 100 percent oxygen at a pressure that is greater than you normally experience. Wounds need oxygen to heal properly, and exposing the wound to 100 percent oxygen can, in many cases, speed the healing process.”
After diligently following her treatment plan for three months, Christine was given the good news her wounds were healed and plans for amputation were no longer needed. “It meant the world to me that the people taking care of me at the Wound Care center showed so much compassion,” Christine said. “It seemed like they were feeling what I was feeling, and they would do everything in their power to make me better.”
Christine is now able to walk again and recently received even more good news: because her foot has healed, she was added as a candidate for a kidney transplant — often, this isn’t possible when patients have chronic wounds.
“The Wound Care staff saved my life,” Christine said. “I’m currently receiving dialysis three times a week for four hours, and now that my foot has healed, my daughter is giving me the gift of a kidney that I may receive before the year is done. I never thought any of this was even possible.”
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Surgery Without a Scalpel
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