Wound Care Center celebrates five years of healing | TheUnion.com

Wound Care Center celebrates five years of healing

From left, Michael Moreno, Letitia Darling, Jessica Enos, Tammy Cordova an Michelle Harris celebrate the fifth anniversary of the Wound Healing and Hyperbaric Medicine Center.
John Hart/jhart@theunion.com | The Union

In a world of hurt, they’ve been a haven for healing.

As the Wound Healing and Hyperbaric Medicine Center in Grass Valley celebrates its fifth anniversary this month, Manager Michelle Harris sees a future of continuing growth and an ongoing quest to stay current with new wound healing technology.

“We’re dedicated to the treatment of chronic, non-healing wounds,” she explained. “Our team takes pride in working together and using our advanced technology to provide compassionate, patient-centered care while treating difficult wounds.”

Since opening, the staff has treated more than 1,600 patients and dealt with more than 3,200 wounds, she said. Nearly 17,600 individual visits have been logged, including over 5,200 hyperbaric oxygen therapy treatments.

Nationwide, Harris said, between 4 and 5 million people suffer from chronic, non-healing wounds, most often caused by diabetes and poor circulation, along with other conditions.

Locally, the most commonly seen problems are chronic, non-healing wounds, and acute burns and trauma, she noted, plus those treated by the hyperbaric oxygen therapy chamber. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy subjects the body to concentrated, pure oxygen, which when breathed into the lungs carries highly oxygenated blood through the body to stimulate the body’s own healing functions, Harris explained. This therapy can assist in treating wounds that won’t heal, diabetic ulcers, crush injuries, gangrene, skin or bone infections, radiation injuries, burns, skin grafts and other conditions.

Wound problems can happen at any age, although many of the patients seen at the Center are from the older range of the population.

Harris said the Center’s services benefit patients across the spectrums of age and medical needs.

One former patient, architect Dennis Kutch, 79, of Nevada City, took 60 “dives” in the hyperbaric oxygen therapy chamber several years ago to save the bone structure in his jaw after receiving radiation treatments for cancer. Although the radiation treatments took care of the cancer, the structure of the bone in his jaw was deteriorating (a condition known as osteoradionecrosis, according to Harris). His teeth were cracking and falling out. He took the chamber treatments before and after having his remaining 21 teeth extracted, but the treatments strengthened the bone so that normal dentures could be installed.

“My teeth got worse and worse before my ‘dives,’ and it was really tough,” Kutch recalled. “But now everything is normal. That therapy was very effective and the people at the Center actually became my friends. They are most affable and professional, and I still drop in to say hello.”

Harris was involved in planning and opening the Center with Dr. Thomas Boyle and Dr. Bruce Lattyak, along with a small team including a medical assistant, a hyperbaric technician, and herself (she is a registered nurse, has a masters degree in nursing, and is an accredited family nurse practitioner and wound, ostomy, and continence nurse). Since then, the Center has expanded to include a second medical assistant, three wound care certified registered nurses, a diabetic educator, technologists, general surgeons Dr. William Statton and Dr. Stephen Waterbrook, and podiatrists Dr. Kennan Runte and Dr. Stephen Latter.

The doctors treat diabetic wounds, vascular wounds and conditions, trauma wounds, burns, surgical wounds, and other conditions.

The hyperbaric oxygen chamber is used for a variety of complex conditions, including diabetic foot ulcers, radiation injury, compromised skin graphs or flaps, and osteomyelitis (bone infections).

“Our goal is to help treat this wide variety of wounds quickly under our specialized care so our patients can get back to enjoying life again,” Harris said. “We all work together as a team, and in collaboration with the medical community.”

“Our vision is to be a vibrant, health care provider known for compassionate service, chosen for clinical excellence, standing in partnership with patients, employees, and physicians to improve the health of the community,” She added.

The Center has also started an ostomy care service and a support group for ostomy patients and care givers that meets 3 – 5 p.m. the first Thursday of every month at Dignity Health Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital (SNMH).

The Center, a service of Dignity Health Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital, is located at 300 Sierra College Dr., Suite 270, in Grass Valley.

Harris invited anyone interested in the Center’s services to call 530-272-8619.

All physicians providing care for patients at SNMH are members of the medical staff and are independent practitioners, not employees of the hospital.

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