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ECMC Opens Unique Wound Care Center | Business

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ECMC Opens Unique Wound Care Center
ECMC Opens Unique Wound Care Center

Representatives from Erie County Medical Center, dedicated a Wound Care and Hyperbaric Medicine Center Thursday that will speed healing for trauma, surgical, diabetes and other slow-healing wounds in a unique facility for Western New York with six surgeons and three podiatrists.

Nearly 24 million people, 8 percent of the American population, have diabetes and 15 percent of those with the disease will develop chronic wounds.

The ECMC Wound Center, which the hospital built in response to closure and consolidation of  facilities at Millard Fillmore Gates Circle and ECMC, is a new, state-of-the-art facility with two hyperbaric chambers. It exists to help wound patients before ulcers and injuries lead to amputations.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy involves putting a patient in a pressurized chamber daily with 100 percent oxygen for a length of time over weeks, depending on the wound. The effect of the pressure two levels below sea level is to open blood vessels, improve circulation and deliver enriched oxygenated blood to wound sites, enhancing and speeding healing. The feeling is like an airplane descending to land.

“This center will do so many remarkable things for patients in the community who need this service,” said Jody L. Lomeo, ECMC’s CEO. “This is another example of working together with Kaleida and Great Lakes Health to respond to the community’s needs and improve the level of health care in this region, while lowering costs at the same time.”

Lomeo explained that if diabetics and trauma patients with wounds can heal faster and more effectively, short- and long-term treatment costs are less, further complications are limited or avoided and patients can go on to live healthier lives. There will also be an increased emphasis on motivating physicians to refer patients to the center when problem wounds are initially discovered so they can heal before more serious complications arise.

The center, located on the hospital’s ground floor near the medical center’s entry road for easy patient access, is managed by nationally known wound center operator Diversified Clinical Services, of Jacksonville, FL, but staffed with ECMC surgeons, and functions as a hospital department. 

DCS’s experience treating more than two million wounds over 20 years in some 300 hospitals shows that its centers traditionally achieve excellent clinical outcomes. These include high limb recovery rates, an 88 percent healing rate within 31 median days-to-heal, and extremely high patient satisfaction. Treatment and services are insured.

In its first two months of work commencing late last year, ECMC’s center handled 17 patients a day on average initially and built to 30 a day. The goal is 40 a day, and there is room for two more hyperbaric chambers as capacity and volume increase. As the patient census grows, a nutritionist is also expected to be added to the center’s staff.

“This is a line of service for Western New York patients that will literally change lives,” said Elizabeth Engler, the center’s manager. “With Western New York’s higher-than-average rate of diabetes, and located as it is in the region’s trauma center, the services we offer will save lives and salvage limbs.”

The center is open to all patients in Western New York, and at least one came from as far as Ft. Drum, near Watertown, for treatment. U.S. Army Pvt. Casey Sherman of Leroy, NY was referred to ECMC from his physician in Watertown.

“My experience at ECMC was exceptional,” Sherman said. “But the key for me was healing more rapidly so I could return to active duty sooner than anyone could have expected, which I did.”     

The actual hyperbaric chambers each hold a reclined patient who communicates by phone with a technician. Patients can watch television and DVDs through an acrylic dome or listen to piped-in music. A surgeon specially trained in hyperbaric healing is available for the start and end of each treatment, as well as to treat the wounds themselves.

Another patient, Batavia radio personality Wayne Fuller, was referred by his physician.

“This center is extraordinary and all Western New Yorkers are fortunate to have a place like this to help them get healthy,” Fuller said. “I, for one, couldn’t be happier.”

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