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HOSPITAL WEEK: A special center just for wounds at IVCH

Inside the hyperbaric oxygen therapy room at the IVCH wound center, from left to right: Jacquelyn Tobiasz, LPN; HBO tech Amy Unthank; and patient Linda Rapson of Oglesby.
Inside the hyperbaric oxygen therapy room at the IVCH wound center, from left to right: Jacquelyn Tobiasz, LPN; HBO tech Amy Unthank; and patient Linda Rapson of Oglesby.

The IVCH Wound and Hyperbaric Center opened in 2013 to provide care for chronic and slow-healing wounds, which are more common than you’d think. Last year alone, the center saw nearly 400 new wound care patients, says clinical coordinator Jill Smoode, RN.

The center provides advanced care for many types of non-healing wounds, including:

• Diabetes foot ulcers.

• Wounds caused by poor circulation.

• Pressure sores.

• Burns.

• Radiation injuries.

• Compromised skin grafts.

• Ostomy skin irritations.

• Traumatic crush wounds.

Providing the care are doctors and nurses with special wound care training, Smoode says. To help treat a wound, they first try to find out why the wound is not healing. That could be a variety of things, including poor circulation, nerve damage, high blood sugar or reduced immunity.

“They may have a lot of things going on, and we need to find out what conditions are affecting that healing,” Smoode says.

The goal is to heal wounds and help people get their lives back. For some wounds, the goal is also to prevent toe, foot or leg amputations, Smoode says.

Because so much is at stake, the center offers advanced treatments, including hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT). With HBOT, you breathe 100 percent oxygen while inside a pressurized chamber. This promotes healing. HBOT can be an option for certain types of wounds.

Other wound therapies available at the center include:

• Debridement to clean the wound and remove dead skin and tissue.

• Special bandages and dressings.

• Artificial skin.

• Compression stockings to improve blood flow.

• Education to teach you and your family how to care for your wound at home.

• Special casts or shoes to protect the foot and allow for wound healing.

• Negative pressure therapy to remove excess fluid.

Smoode says many people with wounds may be embarrassed or afraid to tell someone, but they shouldn’t be.

“The sooner we can see you, the better and the faster we can heal you,” Smoode says. “The wound doesn’t have to control your life. You get to control your life.”

The wound care center has a 98 percent heal rate, Smoode notes. And wound care patients become “a part of our family,” she says.

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