C It was a simple MRI to determine the cause of pain in Cindy Johnson’s left shoulder. No big deal; this was not Johnson’s first experience with an MRI or healthcare services. As a two-time breast cancer survivor and an amputee of her right hand, she has become a bit of an expert when it comes to healthcare. Zip in, zip out — find the source of the pain and quickly start treatment.
As part of the preparation for her eventual hand prosthetic, Johnson was wearing a mesh compression sleeve on her right arm. She was required to wear it for the majority of the day, and she was looking forward to receiving the prosthetic and regaining some use of a right hand. However, it was not long after the MRI started at a local radiology center that she noticed something was not quite right.
“A few minutes into the MRI, I felt pain in my right arm and thought, ‘I should not be having pain’ but decided to endure it since it was only going to be for a few minutes,” Johnson said. “But when the MRI was completed, it was obvious something was not right.”
Her right arm was blistered and had second- and third-degree burns above her right elbow. It turns out that the compression sleeve had silver threads woven into the fabric, and those reacted with the MRI, resulting in the burns to her arm. The burns were significant enough that she would need wound care therapy to heal.
However, this is the point where she considers herself a bit “lucky” to be a breast cancer survivor. She had met Dr. Kathleen Minnick, who served as the medical advisor for her breast cancer support group and is the co-medical director of the Center for Wound Care and Hyperbaric Medicine at Wellington Regional Medical Center. Little did Johnson know at the time that meeting Minnick at the support group would eventually be very important to her own health because, in May 2018, Johnson was found unconscious and facedown at her home.
It is not known how long, but Johnson was on the floor an estimated three or four days before she was found. The resulting wounds included five significant pressure ulcers on her face, right thigh, left knee, right ankle and her right chest. In addition, her right hand was under her body during the entire time, and the damage was too significant to be repaired. The hand had to be amputated.
Because of her previous relationship with Minnick from the support group, Johnson chose to have wound therapy treatment for the hand amputation and the pressure ulcers at Wellington Regional Medical Center.
So, when facing wound care again after the MRI burn, she returned to the wound treatment center that always treated her like an old friend and had such great success.
“I chose to come back to the Center for Wound Care and Hyperbaric Medicine at Wellington Regional Medical Center because of the success of my first wound care experience,” Johnson said. “It is such a friendly place. Everybody there knows me and treats me like family. I am very appreciative of what they have done for me.”
Having completed her treatments for the MRI burn, the wound care center recently held a “graduation ceremony” for Johnson, which included a graduation hat and tassel.
In contrast to Johnson’s treatments to heal wounds from a traumatic injury, John Shore was being treated at the wound center in an attempt to prevent the amputation of his right toe. Shore, a Type 2 diabetic, originally cut his toe on rocks after swimming in the ocean. He was not too worried. After all, it was not much more than a scratch. But, as a diabetic, the risk of complications from wounds on the foot are significantly higher — and his scratch eventually turned into a dangerous wound that not only risked his toe, but his entire foot.
“After seeing my doctor, I was immediately admitted to Wellington Regional Medical Center because the wound on my toe was so significant,” Shore recalled. “I was given the option to amputate the toe or try wound care in an attempt to save it. After meeting the team at the Center for Wound Care and Hyperbaric Medicine at Wellington Regional Medical Center, I choose wound care to try and save my toe.”
Shore’s wound was so significant, he had to start emergency treatment that same day. Unlike Johnson, Shore was a candidate for the center’s hyperbaric chamber. With hyperbaric treatments, a patient is placed in a chamber that is pressurized to the equivalent of going about 49 feet under the surface of the ocean. Inside the chamber, Shore breathes 100 percent pure oxygen, which is carried by his blood to the wound to help promote the body’s natural wound-healing functions. A patient usually receives about 40 treatments, Monday through Friday, each lasting between 90 and 120 minutes.
Shore is 14 treatments into his program and has already seen significant results and said his doctor is amazed at the results so far.
“The care here has been absolutely phenomenal,” Shore said. “I can’t picture going any other place. It is more than just medical care here. The staff is wonderful, and they treat me like family. Five minutes into meeting them for the first time, we were laughing like we had known each other our entire lives.”
The Center for Wound Care and Hyperbaric Medicine at Wellington Regional Medical Center recently received the distinguished Center of the Year award. More than 600 centers had the opportunity to qualify for the award, but only six centers received the recognition. In order to qualify, stringent quality measures must be met, such as high levels of healing outcomes, low days to heal and excellent patient satisfaction rates. The recognition is a reflection of the program achieving quality patient care and clinical outcomes.
In addition, the center was also awarded the prestigious President’s Circle award in recognition for outstanding performance in the areas of patient satisfaction and wound care. To earn the distinction, Wellington Regional Medical Center’s wound care center achieved patient satisfaction rates higher than 92 percent and a healing rate of at least 91 percent in less than 30 median days to heal, for a minimum of two consecutive years.
“The Center for Wound Care and Hyperbaric Medicine at Wellington Regional Medical Center continues to provide advanced treatment therapies for our patients,” Minnick said. “It is an honor for our team to be nationally recognized by Healogics for our quality, and patients who choose our program for their care can be confident that they have access to the most current treatment protocols and therapies.”
Dr. Arthur Hansen, co-medical director at the Center for Wound Care and Hyperbaric Medicine, agreed. “We have known for some time that Wellington Regional’s elite wound care program ranks among the best in the nation,” he said. “This designation is an indication of the medical team’s commitment to providing the best possible wound care services in the country.”
To learn more about the Center for Wound Care and Hyperbaric Medicine at Wellington Regional Medical Center, call (561) 753-2680 or visit www.wellingtonregional.com/services/wound-care.