Ellen Czerwinski - Essexville, MI
"They treated me so well and they didn't give up. I actually looked forward to going there every week."
Pressure and Persistence Helped Heal a Stubborn Wound
For more than six months, Ellen Czerwinski struggled to treat an open wound that simply would not heal. It all started in December of 2014. "I bumped my leg on the door of my dishwasher," she said. That bump caused a small bruise to appear on the inside of her left leg, midway between the heel and knee. Initially, the active 88-year-old was not concerned. "I was on a blood thinner so I bruised easily. It started out the size of a quarter and continued to grow. Eventually it grew to the size of a small coffee cup."
Czerwinski tried, unsuccessfully, to treat the sore at home. A month later, in January, when she went to a regular appointment with her cardiologist, he thought the wound needed professional care and referred her to a vein and vascular center. "They treated it from January to June and I wasn't seeing a lot of healing," she said. "That's when my daughter, Kathryn, called a couple of clinics that specialize in wound care. We decided on the one in Midland because they could get me in sooner. That was the best move we ever could have made."
The Wound Treatment Center at MidMichigan Medical Center - Midland, provides specialized treatment for chronic or non-healing wounds, which are defined as sores or wounds that have not healed after 30 days of conventional treatments. When wounds persist, specialized methods, like those offered at the Wound Treatment Center, are required for healing
In just over three months, the team at the Center successfully treated the wound that had nagged Czerwinski for months. "I received the most remarkable treatment there," she said. "Every week they would clean the wound and my leg really well. Then they put a treatment on the wound and wrapped my leg. They started just behind the base of the toes and wrapped my leg to just below the knee. There were three layers by the time they were done." The layers were removed and reapplied weekly. "Each week I saw improvement. It was thrilling to see it healing."
The wrapping and compression was vital for her recovery according to Travis Taylor, D.O., who specializes in emergency medicine and hyperbaric medicine. He treated Czerwinski at the Center. "In her case, multi-layered compression wrap worked best," he said. The multiple layers they applied each week provided significant compression to prevent swelling. "That was the underlying problem in Miss Ellen's case. She has chronic lower extremity edema." Edema is swelling caused by excess fluid trapped in the body's tissues. "We needed to keep the fluid from collecting around the wound. And, once healed, it was very important for her to keep the swelling under control."
"Dr. Taylor was very good. He was always very careful when removing the old bandage. If he didn't see any progress, he'd try another medicine. He did that until he found one that worked," Czerwinski said. She also understands that keeping the swelling down was vital to healing. In fact, she now wears light compression stockings on a daily basis.
Dr. Taylor said results like those that Czerwinski enjoyed are not unusual. "The key to successfully helping patients with stubborn, non-healing wounds is the integrated approach we take," he said. "We are closely tied to other providers and we have a strong team within the clinic. It's the combination of all that we do – individualized care, frequent visits, advanced therapies - that contributes to our high success rate in healing wounds."
Patient compliance plays a role in recovery too. "There is only so much we can do. The patient has to see the plan through," Dr. Taylor said. "Highly-motivated patients like Miss Ellen help themselves."
Czerwinski appreciated the persistence and kindness of the staff. "Dr. Taylor and the nurses at the Center treated me so well and didn’t give up. They knew I could get better with the right treatment," she said. "Everyone was always pleasant. I can't say enough about them and the wonderful treatment I received. They were very friendly and we shared a lot of laughs. I actually looked forward to going there every week. I would certainly recommend the Wound Treatment Center. It was just the ultimate for me to be treated there."
MidMichigan’s Wound Treatment Centers in Alma, Alpena, Clare, Midland and West Branch provide specialized treatment for chronic or non-healing wounds. The Centers feature physicians and other clinical experts with advanced training and expertise in wound management as well as state-of-the-art technology, including hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Learn more at www.midmichigan.org/woundcenter.