Big city services in small community
By Kyle LoJacono
Pasco Regional Medical’s Center for Wound Healing and Hyperbaric Medicine opened just three years ago, but it has already received the country’s highest award twice for treating chronic injuries.
The facility received the Center of Distinction award April 9. The honor is given annually by Diversified Clinical Services, a national wound care management company. The wound center has earned the award two straight years and as a result also received the Robert A. Warriner, M.D., Center of Excellence award.
“It’s a wonderful thing,” said Dr. Emilio Dominguez, who has worked at the wound center since it opened in March 2007. “It recognizes the hard work the staff here puts into caring for our patients. It’s a true multi-disciplined effort and requires a lot of people to get the job done. We have a superb nursing staff, director and doctors, so we have all the pieces to the puzzle to offer the best care for our patients.”
The award is given nationally to the top six percent of chronic wound clinics. Centers are evaluated for the percentage of patients they heal, the speed of patient’s recovery and the patient’s satisfaction with their care.
“I’m so pleased and nothing short of thrilled to receive the award,” said Mary Alice Hendricks, wound center program director. “It speaks to the quality of care we offer here…We are the only center offering hyperbaric therapy in east Pasco County. People usually have to go to big cities like Tampa to receive this kind of treatment, but we offer it here in our small community.”
Hyperbaric therapy places a patient into a chamber with 100 percent oxygen with two or 2.4 times atmospheric pressure depending on the wound.
“The higher level of oxygen allows for quicker healing of certain (injuries), and the increased pressure allows the oxygen to get into the blood plasma as well,” said Marty Barthle, hyperbaric safety director and registered nurse. “Blood plasma can go into more areas of the body than red blood cells because (plasma) is much smaller. That lets the oxygen get deeper into wounds and allows for more complete healing of some problems.”
Barthle, who has also worked at the wound center since it opened, said the injuries most commonly treated with hyperbaric therapy are bone infections, severe diabetic foot wounds and radiation injuries to bone or soft tissue. Patients go into the chambers for two hours at a time five days a week.
“We call it going on a dive because the chambers were first made to treat divers who got the bends, which happens to divers who come up from deep water too fast,” Barthle said. “We have TVs and DVD players for the patients to watch while they are in the chambers and we can talk to them through a telephone.
“Someone is always monitoring the patients while in the chambers for their safety and for everyone else here,” Barthle said.
Barthle went to say the chambers are constantly monitored because the pressure could potentially be a safety hazard if something went wrong.
The majority of the patients seen at the wound center are older, which is due to the nature of chronic wounds.
“When people get older they have an increased chance of developing a nonhealing wound,” Hendricks said. “We also see younger people who have had some type of traumatic injury especially to the spine that affects their circulation. When circulation is limited so is someone’s ability to heal.”
Besides the hyperbaric therapy, the center uses a variety of methods to treat chronic wounds, which include: infectious disease management, physical therapy, vascular evaluation, nutritional management, diabetic education, nuclear medicine and debridement.
Dominguez has been working in wound healing for 10 years in Pasco. He went to medical school to become a doctor for internal and infectious diseases, not to treat chronic wounds.
“There isn’t a special residency for wound healing,” Dominguez said. “When I was first asked to open a wound center I took a step back. I just said ‘what,’ but I’m very glad I decided to get into wound healing.”
Dominguez is currently part of Florida Medical Clinic and works with Pasco Regional as an independent practitioner as are the other two doctors at the wound center, Petros Tsambiras and Keith Rosenbach.
“Everyone here is great to work with and care only about helping our patients,” Dominguez said. “I look back now and know I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else.”
Those treated seem to feel the same way about the center.
“Our patients are so appreciative of the treatment they get,” Hendricks said. “Some have been dealing with a chronic wound for months or years. It gives them a new lease on life to finally be healed.”
For more information on the wound center, call (813) 479-0225.
Center for Wound Healing and Hyperbaric Medicine
- Affiliated with Pasco Regional Medical Center
- Opened March 2007
- 6,000 appointments last year
- 500 new patients last year
- 1,700 hyperbaric therapy treatments last year
- Address: 6215 Abbott Station Drive in Zephyrhills
- Phone: (813) 479-0225
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