Aletha Smialek had just wrapped up a bible study session last fall when her path ahead took an unexpected turn.
“It was one of those freak things. I was heading to my car and I turned my ankle just enough to lose my balance,” said Smialek, of Mount Vernon. She’d just had her knee replaced a few months earlier. “My fall broke the skin and I developed an infection.”
Smialek, who works part time at the Aurora and Marionville police departments, was ready to get back to work. Her wound, however, wasn’t progressing well. She ended up needing surgery.
“They put a wound pump on it to keep pressure so it wouldn’t get inflamed,” she said. “My doctor ordered regular wound care sessions; luckily Mercy offered that in Aurora so I didn’t need to drive all the way to Springfield.”
“We helped her get a jump-start on her healing process,” said Barbara Thompson, RN and certified wound care associate. “It’s been a pleasure watching her get better, and we’re pleased to offer this service to more people than ever before.”
That’s because last fall, Thompson and her wound care team at Mercy Hospital Aurora were certified by the American Board of Wound Management. Registered nurse Pam Rupp, at Mercy Hospital Cassville, also led her wound care team through the certification. Certified Wound Care Associates (CWCA) must meet the highest standards in wound care to complete the process.
“Only about 3,700 people in the nation have this certification,” Rupp said. “Before, we relied more heavily on doctors who write the orders to treat a patient. Today, we can go in with a lot more knowledge, adjust treatment plans and get them healed quicker.”
This allows for more accurate assessments, documentation, identification and comprehensive patient treatment plans and interventions for wound management at either Mercy facility. “We’re able to treat patients faster for things like foot or pressure ulcers, burns, post-operation wounds and infections from surgeries,” Thompson added. “We also have the capacity to administer antibiotic therapy as well.”
Cassville patient Dr. John Baumgardt saw firsthand how streamlined the care has become. He recently developed a sore on his upper heal where his shoe rubbed against his skin.
“The wound specialists applied a foam pad and wrapped my foot and ankle in such a way that the wound was protected and healing started almost immediately,” Dr. Baumgardt said. “In a few days, there was no trace of the injury.”
“I was very impressed with the amount of care Mercy’s team gave me,” Smialek said. “They were very cautious, clean and I was able to take off the pump after a month. I’m doing great and the wound has been getting smaller and smaller.”
“We’re proud to bring this level of care to small communities like Aurora and Cassville,” Thompson said. “In the past, people like Aletha would’ve had to travel several miles. Now she’s recovering quicker and back on her feet.”
Wound care requires a doctor’s referral. Call Mercy Hospital Cassville’s wound care team at 417-847-1461 or call 417-678-7846 to chat with the team at Mercy Hospital Aurora.
“I could have had home health care, but that’s not me,” said Smialek. “I wanted to get out and get into life and that’s why I chose Barbara and her team.”