Chronic wounds cost lives and $50 billion annually. It’s estimated that 6.7 million people currently live with chronic wounds and the rate is expected to increase, at more than 2 percent per year over the next decade. Natchitoches Regional Medical Center’s Comprehensive Wound Care Center opened in April 2015 to provide advanced wound care interventions to our community.
“If you save a limb, you save a life,” said Frank Aviles, Wound Care Service Line Director for Natchitoches Regional Medical Center (NRMC) “Our goal is to prevent amputations by educating and providing our patients with advanced wound care interventions.”
With a 5-year relative mortality rate higher than 50% for anyone with an amputation due to diabetes, it is important to bring wound care awareness to wound care and inform people that there are excellent treatment options available right here in Natchitoches at NRMC.
Mr. Aviles and Jamie Fontana, Program Director for the NRMC Wound Care Center, traveled to Baton Rouge May 8 to accept a proclamation declaring June 4-8 as Wound Care Awareness Week throughout Louisiana.
The increasing number of patients with chronic wounds is fueled by an aging population and increasing rates of diseases and conditions. Untreated chronic wounds can lead to diminished quality of life and possibly amputation of the affected limb. Over 9.4% of the US population has diabetes, and almost 2 million will develop a diabetic foot ulcer or other non-healing wound.
“Creating a Wound Care Awareness Week is important because there’s new treatment and Natchitoches is on the cutting edge of it,” said State Representative Kenny Cox. “The hyperbaric chambers they use help patients heal, especially those with diabetes who get wounds that are hard to treat. Setting aside this week will bring attention to Wound Care Centers across the state and give them credit for what they’ve accomplished.”
According to statistics, residents in Natchitoches and surrounding parishes were likely to lose a limb due to lack of resources; complications from diabetes, infection, and longstanding wounds. The NRMC Wound Care Center has been able to provide resources and expertise to minimize amputations and increase quality of life for those living with chronic wounds.
“People are surprised that we have a multiple hyperbaric chambers in Natchitoches,” said Fontana. “Before the Center, patients had to drive at least an hour daily for treatment, but now we have a state of the art facility and the expertise to help patients here in Natchitoches.” The Wound Center is very easy to access and patients themselves can call to set up an appointment.
Some of the indications for wound therapy include:
Chronic wounds not making progress
Failing flaps or grafts
Peristomal skin irritations
In the small amount of time the NRMC Wound Care Center in Natchitoches has been open, our staff has been published in medical magazines, recognized nationally, and received numerous awards. Our center in 2017 was ranked in the top 3% in quality out of the approximately 800 centers nationwide that operate under the Healogics Management System. Our Center was recognized by Healogics in 2016 for being in the top 5% nationally for quality.
Ten physicians and many passionate nurses genuinely care for local each patient that comes to see us. We have seen patients travel from out of town seeking our assistance in managing their chronic wounds. What’s more, the Center has a national support network through Healogics, which gives them access to a plethora of resources.
“As a team, we go above and beyond to make sure our patients get the help they need. That’s what sets our center apart” said Aviles.