Part 2: The patient’s perspective
Chronic, non-healing wounds have been called a “silent epidemic.” As we explored in our previous blog, problem wounds are often found in post-acute care (PAC) patients. Many PAC patients have chronic conditions such as diabetes and vascular disease that weaken their immune systems and complicate wound healing. If these wounds aren’t properly treated, they can lead to severe infections, recurrent hospitalizations—and, in the worst cases, amputation and death.
“To win the war on this epidemic, leading PAC communities are delivering programs that customize interventions to each patient’s needs,” says Stephanie Newsom, MD, a certified wound specialist physician for Vohra Wound Physicians, the nation’s largest wound care group serving PAC facilities. She also treats patients at Settlers Ridge Care Center in Celina, Texas, one of 27 communities served by Vohra partner StoneGate Senior Living.
Treating the whole person
“Whatever the wound—from burns and rashes to pressure sores and diabetic ulcers—our goal is to create a patient-centered environment for wound healing,” Dr. Newsom notes. “Along with minimizing pain and reducing the risk of infection, we offer each patient straightforward education on how they can expedite their own healing process.” Examples include such proactive steps as controlling blood sugar levels and complying with compression therapy, designed to increase blood flow in the lower limbs.
Care goes beyond physical treatment. The wound care team is also focused on offering patients emotional support.
“Slow-healing wounds can pose many psychological hazards for patients, from anxiety and depression to shame and grief,” Dr. Newsom notes. “Such distress can further disrupt the immune system and impair the healing process. StoneGate wound teams offer compassionate listening and guidance to allay patient fears, help build resiliency, and encourage steps forward.”
Newsom tells the story of a resident in the memory care unit at Settlers Ridge who developed several wounds on her feet. “She insisted on walking around without shoes. But because she had severe diabetic neuropathy, her foot injuries went unfelt. The entire team got involved in getting her the right orthotic shoes and gently coaxing her into protecting her feet. With good shoes, daily moisturizing treatments, and vigilant monitoring, blood flow to her feet improved. Within four months, all wounds were healed.”
CLICK HERE to learn more on how coordinated care with taking a patient-centric approach not only aids in wound care, but also focuses on the whole patient.
Taking a team approach
Along with specialized physician care at the bedside, StoneGate also engages multidisciplinary teams trained in chronic-wound management to maximize positive patient outcomes.
“Because wound care stretches across several healthcare specialties, StoneGate’s perspective is to take a team approach,” Dr. Newsom says. “From clinicians to nutritionists and physical therapists, all are involved in the healing process—following a holistic, highly personalized care plan for every chronic wound.
“Our certified nursing assistants (CNAs) are at the front line of wound care. They have frequent contact with patients, assisting in activities of daily living and serving as gatherers of vital information about each patient’s condition. If a patient develops a new wound or if an existing wound worsens, the CNA is the first to sound the alarm and spur the care team into critical action.”
Teaching the latest therapies
As highlighted in the previous blog, Vohra is focused on offering post-acute care nurses continuous education and support to stay up to date on the latest wound therapies. The company provides an 11-module, online, wound care course for nurses, covering everything from acute and chronic wounds to wound assessment, geriatric skin conditions, and treatment options. Staff at all Vohra partner PAC facilities can earn continuing education credits and a Vohra Wound Care Certification.
“While certification isn’t a prerequisite for working in wound care, it reflects a commitment to continuous professional development,” Dr. Newsom notes. “It also boosts patients’ confidence in the care they’re receiving.”
Transforming wound care
“Patients in PAC facilities need unified care to heal their wounds and ultimately, prevent overall decline,” Dr. Newsom says. “With a team-based approach, PAC leaders, such as StoneGate, are delivering healing treatments, giving patients hope, and providing them with the best care possible. The result? An enhanced quality of life today—and an improved health forecast for tomorrow.”
CLICK HERE to DOWNLOAD the WHITE PAPER and learn more about how hospitals successfully manage medically complex patients with a focus on the quality of care and recovery process.