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Center’s special treatments address stubborn wounds

St. John Medical Center's Advanced Wound Care Center has two hyperbaric oxygen chambers that are used to accelerate the healing process. Treatments force more oxygen into the tissues to encourage the formation of new blood vessels. (West Life photo by Kevin Kelley)

By Kevin Kelley

Westshore

The common saying, “Time heals all wounds,” is true for most, especially when it comes to physical wounds. But an estimated six million Americans suffer from chronic, nonhealing wounds, according to the Association for the Advancement of Wound Care.

In December, St. John Medical Center opened its Advanced Wound Care Center to treat such patients. Located in the Westshore Professional Center, just west of the hospital on Center Ridge Road, the outpatient office offers advanced treatments for chronic and hard-to-heal wounds.

“We have a very good success rate,” said Nata Mendlovic, a certified medical technologist who serves as the center’s director.

The center usually sees patients with a wound that has persisted for more than a month despite treatment by other physicians, Mendlovic said. On average, such wounds can be healed in nine to 11 weeks; the stated goal is to achieve healing in 16 weeks or less.

Many patients are referred to the center by their physicians, but many are also self-referred. Most patients come once a week to the center, which is open weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

“We’re very aggressive in treatment, which means that patients can return to a normal life a lot sooner,” Mendlovic said.

The Advanced Care Wound Center is unique, Mendlovic said, because its staff of physicians, nurses and other health care professionals takes a holistic approach to patient care.

“We treat the whole patient, not just a hole in the patient,” Mendlovic said.

That’s important, she said, because wounds can be caused by or persist because of underlying health conditions, such as diabetes.

“We also involve nutritionists, because some of the wounds respond better with better nutrition,” Mendlovic said.

Therapies offered by the center include use of bioengineered tissue substitutes, compression therapy, advanced wound dressings and surgical treatments.

The center also has two new hyperbaric oxygen chambers, which can accelerate the healing process by increasing the amount of oxygen in the blood plasma by a factor of at least 10. Patients prescribed this treatment breathe pure oxygen at two to three times the normal atmospheric pressure. The chamber forces more oxygen into the diseased tissue, thereby encouraging the formation of new blood vessels, which promotes healing.

Treatment in the hyperbaric oxygen chamber lass around two hours and continues every weekday for at least 20 sessions.

The center’s multidisciplinary staff also instructs patients on how to better care for their wounds while at home.

“Patient education is a very, very large component of what we do,” Mendlovic said.

The Advanced Wound Care Center is located adjacent to the St. John Medical Center campus at 29160 Center Ridge Road, Suite S. The center’s phone number is 440-827-5300.

 

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