EL RENO, Okla. – In July, Juanita “Bunny” Mathews’ dog accidentally stepped on the arm of her 101-year-old mother, Juanita Gambill, causing a significant skin wound.
Mathews spent several weeks cleaning and dressing her mother’s wound at home, but it would not heal. That’s when she turned to the wound care specialists at Mercy Hospital El Reno.
“It was such a relief to have help as a caregiver,” said Mathews. “I kept trying, but I couldn’t get it to heal. Going a few blocks away to have professionals clean and medicate it was just a load off.”
She said the convenience of the service in El Reno meant she didn’t have to drive her mother into Oklahoma City for treatments.
“It’s hard getting a 101-year-old woman around; we can use all the help we can get,” she said. “It was just very close and very easy to get in and around.”
Mercy Hospital El Reno began offering wound care services once a week in July 2014 and recently added a second day per week to meet the demand of the community.
Shelley Cragg, a physician assistant at the Mercy Hyperbarics and Wound Care Center in Oklahoma City, see patients in El Reno every Monday and Thursday for a variety of conditions, including foot ulcers; leg ulcers; acute burns; non-healing surgical wounds; acute crush injuries or traumatic skin disruptions; chronic wounds; incisions; drainage of abscesses; and treatment of spider bites.
“The demand for wound care services in the El Reno area has been tremendous,” said Cragg. “I expected to see about eight patients per week, but I am now seeing about 25 patients each week.”
Wound care treatment includes healing gels that are infused with silver, which kills bacteria; cleaning and clearing out wounds; and, in certain cases, use of high-oxygen hyperbaric chambers. Other patients receive special footwear or inserts to keep pressure off a foot or leg that needs to heal.
During Gambill’s twice weekly appointments, Mercy co-workers cleaned her wound, applied a healing pad and wrapped the wound in medicated bandages. Mathews did not have to do anything to the wound between visits and the wound healed within a few weeks.
“Everybody was very nice to us and treated us like family and they took such good care of mother’s arm,” said Mathews. “It was just so easy and professionally done. I was so impressed.”
Convenient Access to Specialty Services
Before Cragg and her team began offering wound care services in El Reno, physicians and providers, like Dr. Richard Lowrance III, provided as much wound care as their time and resources allowed. Many patients opted to go to Oklahoma City to treat their wounds.
“Having a dedicated wound care service in El Reno gives patients a way to deal with wounds they may have neglected in the past,” said Lowrance, a physician with the Mercy Clinic primary care office on SW 27th Street in El Reno.
Cragg said lingering wounds are more than a nuisance; they impact patients’ lives.
Wound care is often tied to many of the state’s poor health care indicators – particularly diabetes and circulatory problems. Because of this association, part of the wound care clinic’s work is controlling a patient’s high blood pressure, diabetes, malnutrition or peripheral vascular disease.
“Most of the time, a wound is an external sign of an internal system failing,” said Cragg. “It is our job to address a patient’s internal and external health.”
To make an appointment for wound care services at Mercy Hospital El Reno, call 405-295-1300.