Wound Center can handle many types of injuries

Photo provided to the Daily Mining Gazette The team at the Advanced Wound Care Center are dedicated to healing chronic wounds.

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The UP Health System-Portage Advanced Wound Care Center is a clinic dedicated to healing chronic wounds. The AWCC helps patients heal wounds that have not healed in the time typically expected, which is within thirty days.

The AWCC often takes over after patients have self treated or been seen by their primary care provider, the emergency department or Express Care. They are specialists at treating a variety of wounds, with the most common treated being diabetic foot ulcers, venous insufficiency ulcers, pressure ulcers and burns.

The process of healing wounds often involves many disciplines. The team at the AWCC coordinates referrals to the other disciplines that will benefit the patient, such as vascular surgery, infectious disease, podiatry and orthotists. They also work with diabetes educators and dietitians to provide education and help them manage their disease, to heal their wounds and prevent negative outcomes from the disease.

The task of selecting the best course of treatment and implementing it for the greatest patient benefit involves all of the wound specialists in the AWCC rather than an individual specialist. “We’re a team,” said Cynthia Stites, PTA, WCC, a Physical Therapist Assistant on the Wound Care team. “Everyone who comes will be seen by basically everyone on the team at some point.”

The AWCC team also has wound care-certified PT, Sandra Aronson.

If a wound is small, it can seem like a small problem, but that isn’t always the case. Chronic wounds can have devastating results. “Seventy percent of lower extremity amputations start with a diabetic foot ulcer, and one in four patients with diabetes will develop a foot ulcer,” said Dr. Wade Liston. “Diabetes-related lower extremity amputations have a higher mortality rate than colon cancer.”

“We also work closely with home health agencies, so home health patients don’t need to come in as often,” said Stites.

“If they don’t already have home health care, we offer help to initiate home health services.” added Elissa Labyak, PT, WCC, OMS, a physical therapist at the AWCC.

“Wounds heal in four stages: hemostasis, inflammation, proliferation, and maturation,” explained Liston, a general surgeon who also specializes in wound care.

In hemostasis the blood coagulates and in inflammation the coagulating blood begins to form a scab. In proliferation new skin cells begin to grow in underneath the scab and, in maturation, the skin returns to its original thickness and the scab falls off.

“Technically, all chronic wounds are stuck in inflammation. Otherwise, they would heal,” said Liston. “When surgical procedures are determined to be beneficial for the patient the process of having these procedures done and managing the patient’s needs afterwards is seamless.”

There are a number of reasons that wounds won’t heal like they should, including diseases like diabetes, poor blood flow, poor nutrition, biomechanics issues and even poor choices in footwear. “We find and manage the underlying reasons the wound hasn’t healed,” said Labyak.

Healing these wounds requires more than a simple bandage. The AWCC team are experts at providing the proper treatment needed for their patients.

So, when is it time to contact the Wound Care Team? When you have a wound that is not healing.

“There are people that call us and say ‘I have a wound that I want to be checked out’ and we do see them,” said Liston. “Always go see your primary care provider first.”

Most self-referrals to the AWCC are from individuals who already have a history of non-healing wounds.

While wounds on the surface of the skin can be easy to spot, wounds can also occur below the surface of the skin, like beneath calluses. In these cases, watch out for pain in the region, or red or purple discoloration.

If you have a condition that makes you more likely to develop chronic wounds, like diabetes, be sure to check areas like the feet for wounds or changes you might not have noticed. If you do find an area of concern, make sure that it gets the care that it needs right away.