Treating Unhealed Skin Wounds Is Critical During COVID-19 Pandemic
Notwithstanding COVID-19, the treatment of chronic skin wounds is as important as ever and should not be stopped or delayed, say health care professionals from Southcoast’s Wound Care Centers® at Charlton Memorial and St. Luke’s.
During the seventh annual Wound Care Awareness Week, taking place from June 1 to June 5 this year, they are raising awareness about the advanced wound care treatment available right here in the South Coast region.
Wound Care Awareness Week was established in 2014 by Healogics, Inc. the nation’s leading organization dedicated to advanced wound care, to bring attention to the chronic wound epidemic. Almost seven million people in the United States have non-healing wounds, and the incidence is expected to rise two percent annually over the next decade. And 14.5 percent of Medicare beneficiaries have chronic wounds. Untreated wounds can lead to limb amputation and for the people who’ve had an amputation, the mortality rate 50 percent within five years.
Southcoast’s Wound Care Centers offer an evidence-based, systematic approach to advanced wound care. A range of treatments are available for chronic diseases such as diabetes. The plan of care is specialized according to each person’s condition. Treatment for chronic wounds may include specialized wound dressings, debridement (removal of damaged tissue from a wound), compression therapy, hyperbaric oxygen therapy (exposing wounds to high levels of oxygen speeds healing), edema (swelling) management and other medical interventions.
“Our Wound Care Centers have remained open during the COVID-19 crisis to serve our complex wound care patients,” says Cheryl Thompson, Director at the Charlton Memorial Wound Care Center. “It is an essential health care service for the health and well-being of our patients.”
“We know COVID-19 has created anxiety and fear, but please don’t wait to seek care,” says Thompson. “Delaying treatment can lead to more serious complications including infections, sepsis and even loss of limb. Patients suffering from untreated wounds are 20 times more likely to end up in an emergency room or admitted to the hospital.”
Thompson says there likely will be greater need for advanced wound care services for patients who have recovered from COVID-19 and have long-term effects to their circulatory systems or developed pressure ulcers from reduced mobility.
Mari Murphy, Program Manager at St. Luke’s Wound Care Center, says, “For patients who have stable conditions, and with family or other caregiver support at home, we’ve been able to collaborate with visiting nurses and use telehealth to ensure patients receive the care they need without having to come into the Center as often, or at all.”
“The last few months have given primary care physicians and specialists the time to collaborate with us more closely. And we’ve done a lot of patient and caregiver education about wound care,” she adds.
Both Thompson and Murphy say there are too many people who needlessly live with chronic skin wounds and don’t seek the kind of specialized care that’s available at the Wound Care Centers.
“This is the place for them to come and to be evaluated,” Murphy says. “If you’re a person living with an unhealed wound, there are options for you. Please call us. We’re here to help.”
Southcoast Wound Care Centers have put in strict measures, in conjunction with Southcoast Health, to safeguard patients and staff. These include:
- Adding physical modifications in waiting rooms and limiting the number of visitors to promote social distancing
- Screening patients, employees and visitors for temperature and symptoms in the front lobby of both hospitals
- Requiring both staff and patients to always wear masks/face coverings during visits
- Disinfecting common areas more frequently, including all technology and devices after each use
- Using the parking lot as a “waiting room” so patients can enter an exam/treatment room immediately and limit the flow of patients at any given time
- And as noted, the use of televideo services for patients who can’t come to the clinic, as well as telephonic patient oversight and support and the management of wound care supplies
For more information, prospective patients, the public and referring providers can call (508) 973-7447 for the Wound Care Center at Charlton Memorial or (508) 973-5130 for the Wound Care Center at St. Luke’s.
Please click here for a brief position paper from the American College of Would Healing and Tissue Repair on Wound Care as an Essential Service During COVID-19.