SNVMC treats man's chronic wounds with expanded services
It's estimated chronic wounds affect around 6.5 million patients in the United States every year.
Over the last year, Howard Holcomb has become part of that group. The 76-year-old suffers from cellulitis, a condition where bacteria enters the skin and becomes inflamed. In Holcomb's situation, his extremities filled with liquid.
"My skin is very tender and I bleed easily," explains the Woodbridge resident, "I had wounds on my arms and my left leg looked like a balloon, it swelled up so badly!"
After spending nearly two weeks in the hospital and receiving a course of antibiotics, Holcomb was released, but an incision doctors had made in his leg to relieve pressure wasn't healing like it should. It was then, he was referred to the Sentara Wound Healing Center at Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center.
"I went to the Wound Healing Center there at Sentara and met Dr. Shapiro and her incredible team," says Howard smiling, "They made all the difference!"
The Sentara Wound Healing Center, led by Dr. Carol Shapiro, is committed to determining the right plan of care for its patients.
"Many of our patients are diabetics dealing with ulcers," explains Dr. Shapiro, Medical Director of Sentara Wound Healing Center, "Really, our patients are people with a wound that's not healing. That can be from surgery where it opens up. It can be from an infection. It can be because somebody gets a cut in a briar patch and it's not healing because of a foreign body in the wound. Any reason a wound's not healing, we see them."
The Center, comprised of a team of experienced wound healing specialists, work with the patient and his physician to assess symptoms, determine the underlying cause of a non-healing wound and customize the most effective treatment plan to stimulate healing.
"Our patients have access to our multi-specialty capabilities and specialists," explains Dr. Shapiro. "We have infectious disease doctors, plastic surgery, great general surgeons, podiatrists and an emergency department nearby for patients that have to be admitted for one reason or another."
Mr. Holcomb says while he still has a long way to go, he's noticed a difference, "Before the Sentara Wound Healing Center, I didn't even know these services existed! They took care of all the wounds on my arms- they're all healed."
He recommends Dr. Shapiro and her team to everyone he meets, "There have got to be a lot of people that need this kind of help. They are the most incredible group I've ever been around. They're so knowledgeable and experienced, but yet so personable, you just don't mind going there at all and I love visiting with everybody. Everybody's so friendly."
The team members at the Sentara Wound Healing Center pride themselves on delivering that kind of care and following up with everyone who comes through their doors.
They're also excited about a recent renovation and expansion of services. The remodeled first-floor space allows for easy access with larger doorways, halls, and storage so patients and practitioners can move from room to room. The expansion also included room for the introduction of a Hyperbaric Oxygen Chamber or HBO therapy. HBO, as it's known, is used in the treatment of complex wounds and illnesses, "The purpose of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy is to promote healing on wounds which are stalling either because of a systemic disease like diabetes and vascular, or areas treated with radiation. By breathing this 100% oxygen, wounds heal quicker, there's disease to blood vessels and this opens them," explains Dr. Shapiro.
Dr. Shapiro says this is just one more way the Sentara Wound Healing Center is working to treat the community, but she advises to everyone- never let an unhealing cut, especially on your foot, go too long.