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Trumbull wound center receives award

Submitted photo Staff at the Wound Healing Center at Trumbull Regional Medical Center pose with the Center of Distinction plaque from Healogics. From left are Susie Matak, RN, clinical nurse manager; Dr. Diana Karnavas, podiatrist; Steve Varkony, director of the Wound Healing Center; Krista McFadden, president of Trumbull Regional Medical Center; Kathy Stein, RN; Betty Ramos, front office coordinator; and Colleen Vallas, RN.

WARREN — For the fifth year in a row, the Wound Healing Center at Trumbull Regional Medical Center earned a Center of Distinction Award from Healogics, billed as the nation’s largest provider of advanced wound care services.

“It speaks a lot for the nurses we have in the clinic and the doctors. All the credit goes to them,” Steve Varkony, program director at the Trumbull Regional center, said. “It’s an honor to be recognized with this distinguished award and a true testament to the quality care we provide daily to our patients.”

The Wound Healing Center at Trumbull Regional is the only center in the Mahoning Valley to receive such a distinction, Varkony said.

To receive the award, the center had to achieve clinical outcomes of a minimum wound healing rate of 92 percent within 28 median days and more than 92 percent patient satisfaction, among other criteria for 12 consecutive months.

Dr. Diana Karnavas, a podiatric surgeon and certified wound specialist, said typically, cuts, scrapes and other wounds heal on their own in seven to 10 days. Chronic and nonhealing wounds are those that don’t.

“There’s a normal cascade that happens in wound healing. For whatever reason, they get stuck in one of the cycles. It’s our job to get it unstuck so it can heal,” she said.

When a wound lingers for weeks, patients are at risk. Particularly vulnerable are diabetics, who often have lost feeling in their lower extremities and may not realize they have an injury, she said.

“So the wound doesn’t heal, an infection sets in, it can get right into the bones, and the patient can lose a toe or the whole foot,” she said. Statistics show in cases that escalate to the need to remove an infected limb, 50 percent of patients die within five years of limb amputation.

Varkony said a person with a nonhealing wound has an average of three to four chronic conditions such as diabetes, peripheral artery disease, cardiovascular disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The Mahoning Valley population has a higher-than-average rate of diabetic and obese patients, who tend to have much higher rates of chronic wounds, he said.

“We’re an advanced wound care center,” Varkony said. “That means we have plenty of options in the arsenal of treatment.”

Treatments range from negative pressure wound therapy, bioengineered tissues, biosynthetic dressings, growth factor therapies and stem cell skin grafts to hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

The hyperbaric chamber is especially useful with bone infections, Varkony said. The patient spends at least two hours per day for 30 days in the chamber with 100 percent oxygen saturation.

“That heals wounds from the inside and doctors are working on healing from the outside,” he said.

Karnavas said she’s seeing a lot of success with the stem cell skin substitute. The product incorporates mature stem cells from placentas donated by mothers after the births of their children.

If applied to a wound, the stem cells conform to the skin tissue and form new skin. If it’s a ruptured tendon, the cells can be applied to the tendon and over 28 days, they develop into part of the tendon.

Another function of the Wound Healing Center is education, Karnavas said. Some patients skip routine doctor appointments, douse wounds that aren’t healing with more peroxide — which often makes the wound larger — and never show up to the center until things have progressed to a critical stage.

For many patients, better habits would prevent problems in the first place.

“Some of our diabetic patients are not getting consistent care,” Karnavas said. “We have to work with them on how to eat and how to control diabetes.”

“Our goal is to raise awareness of treatment options available for these individuals with nonhealing wounds,” Varkony said. “A nonhealing wound doesn’t have to be something that lasts forever. With the right course of treatment, you can see huge improvements in just a few visits.”

“We’re the only wound clinic in the area that provides transport,” Karnavas said.

If someone has a foot wound that they can’t walk on or a cast that keeps them from driving, the wound clinic will pick them up and take them back home, she said.

For more information on the Wound Healing Center at Trumbull Regional Medical Center, visit trumbullregional.org or call 330-841-6500.

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