Inside OMC's award-winning Advanced Wound Healing Clinic
For Dr. Sara B. Moncrief, of Olmsted Medical Center, the work she does takes on personal meaning.
When she was young, her grandfather, who has since passed away, struggled with health problems related to his diabetes. Wounds ran up and down his body — eventually becoming so severe that they required multiple amputations, including both of his legs.
“I saw my mom struggle with that,” she recalls, “and I thought to myself, ‘what can I do?’”
Dr. Moncrief is now the co-medical director at OMC's Advanced Wound Healing Clinic in Rochester. Day in and day out, she treats patients dealing with a variety of wounds — some of them chronic like her grandfather’s.
Oftentimes, that means not only caring for a patient’s wound, but also educating them on what kind of nutritional and lifestyle changes they could make to avoid a future amputation.
“That’s what motivates me and makes me passionate about taking care of these patients — to prevent what he went through,” says Dr. Moncrief. “We’re helping the patients have a normal quality of life.”
She adds, “We get patients coming back all the time showing off their feet, or their legs.”
Dr. Moncrief is part of a team at OMC that continues to be recognized for its quality of care. In recent years, the Advanced Wound Healing Clinic has averaged 93 percent or above for healing rates, according to program director Sharon Kreitinger. That level of consistency has earned them the Healogics’ Center of Excellence Award four years straight.
“It really ties back to the quality of care that they do every day,” says Kreitinger, “and how they work together as an interdisciplinary team and use the resources across the hospital system to find whatever they need to heal our patients.”
One of the resources used by the wound clinic team is hyperbaric oxygen therapy, a safe, evidence-based treatment proven to speed the healing process in certain types of wounds. During treatment, patients relax inside of one of two clear, pressurized chambers — nicknamed "Yogi" and "Boo-boo” — filled with 100 percent oxygen (you can even watch TV while inside).
This quickly increases the concentration of oxygen in the bloodstream, where it's delivered to your wound site — essentially helping heal your wound from the inside out.
“It’s like if you go scuba diving, and your ears pop. You’re having this increased pressure, “ says Dr. Moncrief (take a virtual tour of the chamber). “Well, science shows increased pressure, with oxygen, increases oxygen to the tissue to help it heal.”
To learn more about the work being done at OMC’s Advanced Wound Healing Clinic, we sat down with Karen Halverson, RN, CWCN, clinical nurse manager at the wound clinic. Below are some excerpts from our interview:
What type of care do you provide?
K: We treat patients that have chronic wounds; people that have been dealing with wounds for quite some time, or even those who have a newer wound.
We have seen very small wounds, just pinpoint holes, to large wounds with exposed structures and tissue underneath. And surprisingly, even the small wounds can very difficult to heal. The size of the wound doesn’t dictate how quickly it’s going to heal up. It all depends on why that wound is there.
What kind of assessment does a new patient go through?
K: We look at the whole picture — why does a patient have a wound? How can we heal it up? What can we do to keep it from coming back again? We’re not just look at the hole in the patient. We’re looking at the whole patient.
How often do you typically see a patient?
K: Most patients we see once a week, so we do get to know them quite well. We keep track of [the wound] to make sure it’s healing in the right manner.
What’s your goal for recovery time?
K: We like to see patients heal in 14 weeks.
What would surprise someone the most about the work you do?
K: Probably the intensity of the teamwork. It’s not just one person taking care of the patients; it’s the entire team working together collaboratively to make sure the patient’s care is the best. We are truly passionate about we do. We love to see our patients improve. We love to know we have made their lives just a little bit better.