Department Spotlight: Wound Care

By: Alana Ridge

February 16, 2024

For the average person, wounds aren’t an everyday worry. However, for at least eight million Americans, chronic wounds can pose a serious threat to health and well-being. From a person with diabetes experiencing painful neuropathy to a patient healing from a significant burn, caring for advanced wounds is a major part of their healthcare journey. Who do they go to get the care and guidance they need?

The answer: Renown Wound Care. Serving patients in both the inpatient and outpatient settings, this department provides comprehensive, best-in-class treatments for severe and chronic wound healing and ostomy care. Our Wound Care team members have mastered the art of harnessing cutting-edge technologies and a patient-centric approach to redefine the standards of healing. 

Advanced Care for the Best Repair 

At Renown Health, we are fortunate to have a team full of nurses, physicians and more caring for patients with wounds caused by a wide variety of conditions. Those include: 

  • Burns
  • Trauma
  • Vascular diseases
  • Radiation therapy
  • Pressure ulcers
  • Diabetes and diabetic neuropathy

Adding to the expert-level continuum of care, Renown is the only health system offering complete ostomy services in the entire region. The Wound Care team helps ostomy patients with the fitting of their medical bags, treatment of any skin conditions that may arise after ostomy bag placement, care coordination and much more. 

With a multidisciplinary network of experts tailoring personalized treatment plans, there is never a dull moment on the floor. On the outpatient side, the team expects 50-60 patients in one day alone. 

“As a clinician, wound care is a lot of ‘arts and crafts,’ so we get to use our creative and critical thinking skills to provide the best possible care,” said Samantha Moore, Advanced Wound Care Specialist RN for Outpatient Wound Care. “Each patient has an individualized plan of care – we greet them as they come into the clinic, escort them back to their treatment rooms and get their latest health updates and life situations before providing wound or ostomy care. We prepare each morning doing chart reviews to determine patient needs, wound progression and referral needs.” 

“We are a highly specialized, dedicated group of professionals with a passion to treat and heal our patients’ wounds,” added Lori Conner, Advanced Wound Care Specialist RN for Outpatient Wound Care. “When a patient comes to our clinic for evaluation, they are given a dedicated appointment to thoroughly go over their medical and surgical history, medications and nature of the wound.” 

Switching over to the inpatient care team, they operate like a well-oiled assembly line, navigating different daily assignments with precision and flexibility. 

“On the inpatient side, our day starts in our office with triaging our consult list; after the triage process is completed, we get our assignments, which can consist of wound vacuum-assisted closure (VAC) patients, follow-up patients, ostomy education patients and new wound consults,” said Megan Uy, Advanced Wound Care Specialist RN for Inpatient Wound Care. “In the case of patients requiring wound VAC changes, we consider what kind of pre-medication for pain that they need. Although some patients may be seen on a time schedule, the day ends up flexible as patients are being seen by other specialties. This flexibility also benefits the patients, making them feel more empowered with their care.” 

“Each day in the inpatient setting, we get to our office and sort through all the new consults that came in overnight, and the charge nurse makes the assignment for the day,” added Madison Arlin, Advanced Wound Care Specialist RN for Inpatient Wound Care. “After the assignment is completed, each nurse is responsible for researching their patients and organizing their day, typically by priority – wound VACs and ostomies usually take top priority.” 

Now, how do these treatments actually work? This specialized field handles advanced methods of treating each condition, including: 

  • Biological skin substitutes
  • Surgical debridement
  • Advanced wound dressings
  • Negative pressure therapy
  • Pre-ostomy markings and education
  • Offloading techniques, such as padding or dressing

“Before starting treatments, we communicate with our nurses and providers to make sure that the patient is comfortable prior to wound care,” said Dianna Seo, Advanced Wound Care Specialist RN for Inpatient Wound Care. “After we see the patient, if there is a need for escalated care, we contact the provider for additional testing or consults. We continue to follow-up on patients that have severe wounds, wound VACs and ostomies.” 

In the hands of the Wound Care team, patients exit our hospital walls not only restored but also empowered, set on a trajectory for long-term healing.

Your Expert Care Guides 

No matter the case or the severity of the wound or condition, patient care, comfort and communication always come first – before, during and after treatment.  

“Many of our patients have chronic needs, so we end up seeing them for several months, if not years in some cases; we stay up to date with their specific psychosocial needs and help remove barriers that would prevent their wounds from healing,” said Samantha Moore. 

“I enjoy knowing that my positive attitude can improve our patients’ days,” added Maddie Pauley, Patient Access Representative for Outpatient Wound Care. “When they’re routinely coming to appointments they might not enjoy, hearing them praise our team and give their thanks is one of the most rewarding feelings.” 

As a wound care patient, there can be a lot of unknowns when beginning their care journey. However, these team members carefully walk each patient through every step from beginning to end. 

“When we go to see a wound care patient, our team is very consistent about explaining to the patients what our role is and what we plan to do with their wound, and then we continue to actively communicate throughout wound care each step that we are doing as we are doing it,” said Madison Arlin. “We also encourage some of our patients to listen to music that they enjoy during the wound care, or we will cover their eyes with a cloth if they request so that they don't have to see their wound. Sometimes, we will ask the family to stay at the bedside to hold their family member's hand.” 

Education is crucial to ensuring each patient knows what to expect in order to care for their wound and understanding the stages of healing. Fortunately, this team is well-versed in the world of wound wisdom. 

“A lot of education is provided on the type of dressing we are applying, and if the patient is going to be performing their own dressing changes, we will go over the entire change with them and provide supplies for discharge,” said Megan Uy. “Additionally, there will be written instructions in their discharge paperwork. In the cases of wound VAC dressing changes, each step is explained to the patient before doing it, and we also go over discharge options and expectations.” 

“As a clinician who sees a lot of patients prior to having their ostomy placed (pre-surgical marking), one of the most important things we do is first sit with the patient and/or caregivers and talk about their fears, concerns, questions and goals,” said Samantha Moore. “We provide a lot of emotional support and education, helping identify community resources. For our wound patients, we spend a lot of time educating our patients/caregivers about how and why their wounds occurred. We try to connect with them on a personal level and help them identify ways to help their wounds heal.” 

To see a patient’s care journey from the second they enter through our doors to the moment they return home is one of the most rewarding feelings for the Wound Care teams. In fact, they’ve had the pleasure of treating patients for years and seeing their wounds almost completely heal. The team collectively values the successful healing journeys of their patients as their proudest achievement. 

“One of our team's greatest accomplishments was being able to see one of our long-term patients discharged with nearly resolved wounds,” said Megan Uy. “This patient had been in our care on-and-off for the past year with many hospitalizations and had complicated high-output enterocutaneous fistulas within his wound bed. These were incredibly hard to keep a dressing on successfully, and he often had issues with the dressing leaking. Eventually, we got a dressing that could remain intact until his next scheduled dressing change, and he was able to get surgery that fixed his fistulas. Being able to see him recover and heal his wounds was a very large accomplishment for us.” 

The admiration and compassion this team has for their patients also extends to each other. The cohesive way they work together only further benefits their patients, offering the best-possible collaborative care. 

“We have extremely skilled clinicians in our group that are not only incredible in the work that they do and the patient care that they provide but are also enjoyable to work with as well,” said Geane Weaver, Advanced Wound Care Specialist RN for Inpatient Wound Care. “There is something to be admired in each and every one of my coworkers.” 

“Our team is very close and supportive of each other at all times,” added Madison Arlin. “I feel very lucky to work with such an amazing group of people. Our team is very proud of the work we do.”

Fervently Fighting the Good Fight

So, with the highly specialized nature of advanced wound care, how did these team members get inspired to join the Wound Care team in the first place? 

Well, for many of these devoted employees, their first exposure to caring for wounds took place on different units – sparking their interest in making wound care their full-time career. 

“Renown was the most welcoming towards me as a student nurse, and I liked that it was a teaching hospital,” said Madison Arlin. “I started in the General Surgical Unit (GSU) immediately after graduating nursing school and worked there for two years before transferring to wound care. I decided to apply to the wound team after watching the wound nurses do wound VACs and ostomy changes on the floor. I would ask them if I could watch, and I was always very fascinated by the wound healing process.” 

“Prior to joining the inpatient wound team, like Madison, I was also a bedside nurse in GSU,” added Geane Weaver. “Working on that floor, I was already exposed to a lot of patients that were requiring some kind of advanced wound care in one way or another. Working in the GSU, I also cared for a lot of patients that had wound VACs and ostomies. These patients make up a huge group of the individuals that our team sees on a regular basis, and they've always been intriguing for me, so naturally, wound care has always been on my radar.” 

For other team members, wound care has always been a point of curiosity throughout their education and career. From their very first exposure to this care area, they were hooked. 

“I was always curious about wound care even through my nursing school experience,” said Dianna Seo. “When I was working on the floor, I would trade to do wound care for patients. When I had time, I would follow wound care and help when I could. I joined the skin team which drove me to be increasingly involved with wound care. As soon as there was a job opening, I applied for the position. I worked in outpatient wound care for approximately four years and now inpatient for another four years. I have enjoyed all aspects of wound care and patient care.”   

“I had great clinical experience at Renown when I was in nursing school; I also was very interested in caring for trauma patients, and Renown being a Level II trauma center aligned with my interests,” added Megan Uy. “I began my nursing career in the GSU, but my dream job was always Wound Care. During my nursing school clinicals, I had the opportunity to watch some members of the wound team do wound VAC changes and thought it was incredibly intriguing and a great combination of utilizing the knowledge of anatomy and physiology while being creative with handicraft. A position opened on the team around the time I met the prerequisites to be eligible for the position, and luckily, I got it.” 

Our Wound Care team has achieved significant employee and departmental milestones over the past year, reflecting their dedication to enhancing patient care and overall process improvement. 

“We have had many accomplishments within the last year and are currently working on more to improve the hospital,” said Dianna Seo. “Madison Arlin won the DAISY Award for her great work with our patients. Megan Uy won Top Talent of the Quarter for helping a stranger. Ande Ferriera has worked tirelessly to improve our process improvement. Allie Saunders, as our leader, has worked to improve patient skin by getting new beds for Renown Regional. All our patients that have healed or are on their way to healing under our care is our greatest achievement that we as wound team is most proud of.” 

“We are constantly updating protocols, notes and orders for bedside nursing so that it is a more straightforward and seamless charting process,” added Madison Arlin. “We have representatives of different supply companies come and present new products that we think may benefit our patients better. Our wonderful tech has even updated our department site on Inside Renown so that the nurses always have references available.” 

Renown’s strong influence in the region – and the opportunity to give back to their community – was, and continues to be, a major draw for this team. 

“Since I can remember, Renown has always been the most prevalent healthcare name for my family and has always taken the most amazing, thorough care of my loved ones,” said Maddie Pauley. “I have always wanted to work somewhere I could help people, and starting at Renown has really opened my eyes into how much of a difference each one of us can make.” 

Our Wound Care department’s success stories and proactive approach not only reflect their passion for healing but also inspire a ripple effect of positive change throughout our health system. They proudly exemplify a shared commitment to enhancing the well-being of all patients under their care. 

“Being part of Renown and part of this team has been my blessing; I get to do a job I love with people that love it too,” closed Dianna Seo. 

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