Published on September 04, 2012

Specialized wound care at Nazareth Hospital

Maureen Kish loves her job.

Maureen KishAs an administrative assistant in a Hatboro-Horsham School District elementary school, she knows her work is important. 

And those summer breaks are nice, too. But the summer of 2012 brought an unexpected turn that seriously threatened Maureen’s health.

Several weeks after scheduled foot surgery, an infection set in and brought 57-year-old Maureen to Nazareth Hospital’s Center for Wound Healing and Hyperbaric Medicine. Infections can be dangerous, and Maureen’s problem turned out to be more serious than she realized. “My doctor explained that aggressive treatment was necessary to save my foot. Save my foot? I just thought recovery was delayed,” Maureen recalls.

Non-healing wounds are not uncommon and can be triggered by a number of health conditions, including diabetes, internal infections and, as with Maureen, a surgical wound. The right care involves careful testing to find the cause and appropriate treatment. For Maureen, the right treatment included a multidisciplinary panel of specialists that Maureen fondly calls her Dream Team.

The Dream Team

Lori Dwyer, DNP(c), CRNP, NP-C, CWCN, often led the team. “Maureen’s case required highly individualized and tightly coordinated care—an approach that sets our Center for Wound Healing apart,” Dr. Dwyer says. “Our system allowed me to follow Maureen in the hospital and as an outpatient, so the entire team always remained in the loop.” It also helps to have a patient like Maureen, Dr. Dwyer adds. “She wanted to get well and she really partnered with her medical team. When that happens, this is so often the outcome you get—Maureen is walking today.”

Airtight Results

The Center’s team approach and its advanced treatment capabilities help patients achieve good outcomes. This includes a 90 percent healing rate for all difficult-to-heal wounds versus the national benchmark of 82 percent.

“We’re continually reassessing our treatment plans so that healing can progress,” explains Michael Segal, DO, medical director of the Center. “For Maureen, that meant introducing a variety of treatments at different times. Our experts and specialists performed debridements to give viable tissue a chance to grow, introduced negative pressure to assist wound closure and used hyperbaric oxygen therapy. The results are remarkable.”

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) involves a clear, acrylic, tube-like compartment that allows the patient to lie comfortably inside while breathing in pure oxygen. This increases the amount of oxygen in the blood and allows a high level of oxygen to infuse damaged wound tissues. This, in turn, speeds the healing process while fighting infection.

The therapy typically involves one two-hour session per day, Monday through Friday, for 30 to 40 days. To help patients make this steep time commitment, Nazareth Hospital provides transportation to and from the Center. Hyperbaric patients are able to see clearly through the chamber and can watch TV or DVDs, sleep or read during treatment. A technician accompanies the patient at all times.