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The Road to Wound Healing

In recognition of National Physician Assistants Week (Oct. 6-12), which is sponsored by the American Academy of Physician Assistants, I want to acknowledge all the PAs who work side by side with our physicians to provide outstanding patient care throughout the medical center!

Having been a physician's assistant for more than 30 years, working as a member of the Wound Healing Program at Montefiore is a humbling experience.  Patients often acquire their wounds under sad circumstances -- the most common include:

  • lying on the floor for days after a fall
  • gun-shot wounds that cause paralysis and lead to bedsores
  • diabetes causing ulcers and amputations
  • painful leg ulcers from sickle cell disease

An open wound often causes the patient to feel ashamed because it is such a visible and disturbing result of disease. Some ulcers have been present for months, years and even decades. The odors and sights can be difficult to witness but when I can help heal it, or at least ease some of the suffering, it is very rewarding. 

When we initially see patients, we tell them we will work with them as a team to heal their ulcer and we'll get them to the point of being able to "ring the bell". When an ulcer is healed, there are hugs all around and we ring a special bell to celebrate! 

I remember one patient who had suffered with leg ulcers for 15 years, trying many different treatments.  She is nearly healed now.  She brings us flowers and says "thank you from the bottom of my heart."   Her life had been so limited before because of the ulcers, the drainage and the pain — and now she goes to the theater regularly!

The Wound Healing Program began in response to the need to deal with pressure ulcers, which is an underserved area in medicine. We work closely with a patient's medical team to provide follow-up care — even after they've left the hospital. We utilize advanced treatments, like tissue grafts and compression therapy, and we even provide advice on nutrition. We help provide a continuum of care and reduced readmissions. 

My work and this program at Montefiore are all about hope, it's about caring and it's about healing. Next time you hear a bell ringing, you'll know that one more ulcer is healed!

Cary AndrewsCary Andrews, MS, CWS, is Senior PA in the Wound Healing Program DFSM/Hyperbaric Medicine at Montefiore Medical Center. She also is an associate at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University.

Posted by blogmoderator on 10/09/2013 at 9:29 AM Add Comment