Skin tear

An example of a skin tear that is beginning to heal is pictured.

One patient was sure the toe was coming off.

Another worried that the whole foot was going to be amputated.

All were treated successfully at Abilene’s fastest growing health care facility, Memorial Hospital Would Center.

“There have been several patients that were worried that their wounds were so severe they would lose a limb,” said Kristen Frieze, clinical coordinator for the center. “That is what we are ultimately trying to prevent.”

Wound care isn’t about throwing a bandage on a wound.

“We take a team approach to the wound care and collaborate with the patients and their care providers to make sure we can look at the whole picture and treat the whole person,” Frieze said.

“There are so many aspects to wounds that delay their healing,” she said. “You’re used to having scratches when you are kids and you get a scab and it heals. There are so many different things that delay that wound healing from nutrition, infection, blood flow. We are looking at everything on how to come up with a plan of care and work with our patients.”

Up until June when the Abilene clinic first opened, it would take a patient up to two weeks to see a specialist.

Now patients that are referred by their primary care provider or self-referred patients can see Dr. William Short usually in less than a week.

Last spring the hospital was looking at providing care for just half a day. The clinic opening date got postponed because of COVID-19 precautions.

It opened on June 25 and is now functioning a full two days on Thursdays and Fridays.

“We have seen an abundance of need in the area,” Frieze said.

Wound care

“It’s an all-around approach to help the patient heal faster,” she said. “It’s a team approach. We want to get everything coordinated together so the patient has the best outcome.”

Skin tears, pressure ulcers, diabetic wounds, mixed etiology, traumatic wounds, venous wounds and arterial wounds are some of the areas of treatment.

She said many of the wounds are venous insufficiency wounds, where valves cease to function and blood no longer moves efficiently.

“Venous insufficiency happens with aging, where we put a lot of wear and tear on the body and our venous system doesn’t work as efficiency so the pumps that get the blood back up the legs don’t work as effectively,” she said. “When we look at venous wounds we look at nutrition, we look at smoking, all the underlying causes that would stall that wound. How do we get that swelling off the leg? We have a variety of different compression systems we use to help bring that fluid off the leg and the blood back up the leg.”

Skin

substitutes

The clinic had plans to begin using skin substitutes as soon as next year.

“They say it usually takes six months to a year for a clinic to get started before they bring in some advances,” Frieze said. “But we saw the need within a month or two, so we brought it in a lot sooner.”

The clinic is using Epifix, which is an amniotic membrane topical.

“It helps stimulate the wound and helps some of those cells start healing,” she said. “Those aren’t appropriate for everyone. We have to do a lot of testing before we throw those on a patient.”

Contact Tim Horan at editor@abilene-rc.com.

Contact Tim Horan at editor@abilene-rc.com.

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