It’s been an exciting time at BMH since the Green Mountain Care Board approved the establishment of a state of the art wound care center at our hospital. We’ve been doing intensive staff training and working hard to have everything in place when the facility opens its doors next month.
The BMH Center for Wound Healing will be the first of its kind in Vermont and the only one in the vicinity providing comprehensive, multidisciplinary care for chronic and non-healing wounds. While technologies like hyperbaric oxygen therapy get the lion’s share of public attention, I’d like to emphasize that it is just one of the tools that will be available as we provide our patients with state of the art wound healing services. The majority of chronic wounds can be healed completely by following evidence-based clinical treatment guidelines and a team approach. Studies have shown that healing occurs faster and is more cost effective in comprehensive wound care centers.
The general definition of a chronic wound is one that has lasted longer than 30 days. Most patients have a variety of contributing factors including diabetes, circulation problems, infection, inflammation, swelling, etc. By approaching these problems in an organized, systematic way, we can establish what has prevented healing and then work on eliminating these obstacles and get the wound closed.
Whatever the cause, consistency is also very important to healing. That means having the same physician/nurse team committed to an individual patient during each weekly visit. This "case management" style of patient care ensures the same sets of eyes are monitoring how wound healing progresses and what the appropriate next steps might be. Healing wounds requires a commitment from the patient, too. It becomes difficult to assess whether a wound is improving or if it needs further evaluation if we’re only seeing a patient every couple of weeks or once a month. With weekly visits, most wounds can be completely closed in roughly 30 days.
A wound care center like the one at BMH will have resources to help patients get help with tobacco cessation, nutrition consultation or other information that helps manage their condition. We will also have access to medical specialists such as orthopedic and vascular surgeons who can be consulted to provide individualized care.
The work doesn’t stop once the wound is healed, however. The ultimate goal is to prevent another wound from occurring. Most chronic wound patients are referred for treatment by their primary healthcare provider. After he or she is discharged, it’s important that the primary care provider is well informed about what happened, why the wound occurred and how future wounds can be prevented.
In summary, the best approach to healing difficult wounds involves a "team" including the primary care provider, patient, consulting experts, and an advanced wound care center like the one opening soon at BMH.
Gregory Gadowski, MD, is the Medical Director for the Brattleboro Memorial Hospital Center for Wound Healing, opening next month and hosting an Open House on Tuesday, May 7. For more information call 802-275-3674 or visit online at bmhvt.org.