Wound care clinic opens at Pocahontas Memorial Hospital
You’re working in the garden or perhaps finally tackling that long overdue garage clean up and suddenly you’ve cut your hand. So you stop, clean up the wound, apply a topical anesthetic, throw a band-aid on it and go back to what you were doing. End of story right?
But what do you do if that cut just doesn’t seem to want to heal? You may be dealing with a chronic wound that needs some medical intervention. And for residents of Pocahontas County, that care can now be found at Pocahontas Memorial Hospital’s new Wound Care clinic. Dr. Jeffrey Pilney, an emergency room doctor at PMH who is certified in general surgery and trauma, is heading up the Wound Care clinic and talked about the new service during an open house for the clinic at PMH. He explains what qualifies as a chronic wound.
“Chronic wounds are wounds that have failed to heal by three weeks,” said Dr. Pilney. “And we approach that differently than an acute wound, but we’re happy to see both. Chronic wounds develop a treatment plan that goes on for weeks and weeks and months sometimes. Acute wounds are usually things that are caused from an injury that heals straightforward without the need for us.”
Dr. Pilney said there are a number of different management strategies that can be used to coax a wound into healing – what they all share in common is that they need time to work. It’s also critical to prevent secondary infections or other complications while the treatment is underway.
But why establish a wound clinic at PMH now?
“I’ve worked in many areas of the state and wound care is a neglected thing, it’s a neglected field,” said Dr. Pilney. “The primary care physicians usually aren’t interested or don’t take ownership of it and people typically have to travel far distances just for basic wound care. And wound care visits are usually not complex; they’re something we can easily do within the scope of our facility here. They just require some training to do the proper assessment and some basic skills.”
Angela Webb, a highly skilled nurse with many years of experience, will also be working with Dr. Pilney in the wound care clinic. She was required to take a four day course and pass an extensive test to be certified to work in wound care assessment and management. But it’s her extensive experience working with veterans that helped prepare her to move into this specialized area of care.
“I did work at the VA [Veterans Administration] for seven years,” said Webb. “I started out as a LPN [Licenced practical nurse], I was already enrolled in school for my RN [Registered nurse], I was what we called a ‘wound care champion’. Kyna [Moore] had first approached me about getting certified in wound care; after talking with Dr. Pilney and Kyna we decided that I’d go to test and thank God I passed.”
Working alongside a Nurse Practitioner at the VA, Webb gained invaluable experience in assessing and caring for wounds presented by the Veterans, including pressure ulcers in older Veterans who suffered due to their own neglect or that of their primary care physicians.
Dr. Pilney said wound care may also address a condition that many don’t feel they can discuss in polite conversation.
“Another big area of chronic wound management that maybe you don’t think of is ostomy management,” he said. “A lot of people are embarrassed of ostomy issues and don’t have a good place to go. We would encourage you to assess anybody that has ostomies or appliances like feeding tubes or drainage tubes or anything; inquire if they’re having any problem or issue with it, because a lot of times they keep that very silent, it’s embarrassing. So sometimes you have to elicit issues if you know people have devices or tubes or ostomies, but we’re happy to make management plans to make those things less of a burden and easier to take care of and cleaner.”
Pocahontas Memorial Hospital CEO Barbara Lay is pleased that they are adding this service.
“I just think it’s wonderful that the hospital identified that this was a need that our community had and that we had people who were either already trained and certified or eligible to go out and receive the training and took the time to go do that and sat for the test,” said Lay. “And now we can expand this much needed service to our rural area and I just think it’s so exciting.”
Appointments for the PMH Wound Clinic will be scheduled on Wednesday’s in the morning. To make an appointment, please call the business office at 304-799-7400.