As a hospitalist in Illinois in 2012, I decided to expand my expertise into wound care by agreeing to spend a week in Florida to train in Advanced Wound Healing. As a hospitalist, I certainly cared for my share of wounds, but I did not truly understand the detailed pathophysiology of wounds nor the depth of available treatments to heal them. I had no real concept of the social implications of chronic wounds, nor the magnitude of the problem from a more global perspective. In all honesty, I wanted a little extra money. And so I went. And I’m so glad I did. Now, as a Chief Medical Officer, I am privileged to serve to better the overall wellness of an entire community and to ensure the long-term viability of my healthcare system. And can you believe it? It still comes back to wounds.
"Wound care clinics are more than a specialty clinic. They are a second chance at life for so many people"
The week in Florida training was quite eye-opening from a medical perspective. Wounds should be debrided every week? I couldn’t believe it. The hyperbaric oxygen chambers I only knew of as a scuba diver in my youth could heal wounds? How fascinating. I could learn to perform extensive debridement and use cutting edge therapy to visibly heal people as a primary care physician. What an opportunity! After a week of fibroblast and collagen pathophysiology refreshers and memorizing the appropriate uses of advanced wound care products, I was hooked. I was beyond excited about the work from a medical perspective. But I still didn’t really get it.
We opened our wound care clinic. We had a wound care EMR to capture all the right components for billing. We had our cabinets stocked with a few of each category of product, and our protocols and algorithms (to make sure we kept our costs down) were posted on our pin boards. We were conveniently located on the bottom floor so our patients could get to us easily. We had promoted our services to all primary care docs and surgeons, marketed the new clinic in church bulletins and newspapers, and had flyers sitting all around the town. We were ready. The doors opened.
And the patients came. They came in droves. Some patients were sent from primary care physicians with diagnosed wounds but a shockingly large number of patients who had been hiding their wounds from friends, family and doctors came in with their heads hung looking for some hope. One woman had been dealing with her wounds secretly for several years, using OTC products and bandages to control the drainage.