Harlan Appalachian Regional Hospital representatives spoke to the Harlan Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday during their regularly scheduled meeting to explain the Wound Care Center and its services.
ARH Medical Director Jose Echeverria, MD and Program Director Rodney James, RN had a presentation for the chamber regarding ARH’s Wound Care Center. Echeverria said the center focuses primarily on chronic wound management. A chronic wound, according to Echeverria, is a wound that doesn’t heal, or heals slower than it should. These wounds put patients at a much higher risk for developing dangerous infections.
He went on to explain what the center does in more detail. He said wounds heal faster or slower depending on the patient’s health and wellness. He also used diabetic patients as an example of people who may need the center’s services. Diabetic patients tend to have decreased blood flow to certain areas of the body due to their illness, so wounds tend to heal slower or not at all in patients with poor circulation in the area of the wound.
Echeverria reiterated that even though the center will dress a normal wound, they focus primarily on chronic wound management. Patients can come in and have their chronic wound cleaned and re-dressed along with a variety of other treatments. He said a doctor will examine the wound and follow its healing progress to determine the effectiveness of the treatment and try other options if needed.
The center also has a hyperbaric chamber, explained Echeverria. He said the chamber was used for hyperbaric oxygen therapy. According to him, in the military, officials noticed that wounds from Navy divers healed much faster than identical wounds in other branches of the military. The Navy did research on the matter and discovered the high pressure divers endure while diving was beneficial to the healing process. Hyperbaric chambers are typically used to decompress divers slowly after long periods spent underwater. If the body decompresses too quickly, nitrogen bubbles can form in the blood stream and cause major problems.
The center uses the hyperbaric chamber to simulate underwater pressures and conditions for patients, so treatments are called “dives,” according to Echeverria. He said patients are placed in the chamber and the chamber is filled with 100 percent oxygen. Then the atmospheric pressure within the chamber is increased over 10-15 minutes and the patient stays in the high pressure for 90 minutes before being decompressed over another 10-15 minutes.
Echeverria closed by saying the Wound Care Center brings much needed money to the area. The specialized treatment draws patients from other areas as well as providing much needed jobs to the area that pay well. He also explained that Harlan Countians now have state of the art wound care close by.
Reach Bradley at 606-909-4146 or on Twitter @bradley_HDE