Helping to Heal: Why We Care About Wound Care

July 22

Late last year, Robert Berger started to feel fatigued. So, the former French horn player and long-time resident of United Hebrew’s skilled nursing and rehabilitation facility began spending longer periods in bed. What he didn’t realize at the time, was that he developed a pressure wound on his back.

Berger did not feel pain from the wound but, in fact, it was causing him to feel unwell. What most people don’t realize is that if left untreated, pressure wounds, also known as bedsores, can be fatal.

While performing routine daily care for Berger, Norma Letman, a certified nursing assistant, discovered the wound. She reported it to the nurse management team, which included Ruchi Reyes, one of United Hebrew’s specially-trained wound care certified nurses. Reyes performed an initial assessment, and together with a wound care physician, she helped to develop a multidisciplinary care plan.

Over the next several months, Berger received treatment. United Hebrew’s dietician oversaw a nutrition plan designed to promote healing. Therapists ensured he was moved in bed every two hours to take the pressure off of his wound. Cyndia Romulus, head nurse, continued to perform the recommended treatment, which included Vacuum Assisted Closure therapy—a type of therapy that uses a specialized dressing and a vacuum tube to remove fluid and bacteria, while promoting blood circulation and healing. Reyes monitored his progress and optimized his wound treatment plan.

Happily, Berger’s wound never progressed to a serious stage because of the specialized care he received.

“My wound could have become infected and been more serious,” says Berger. “But thanks to my nurse, I’m feeling much better and I’m up and out of bed.”

Specialized care unique to United Hebrew

As part of its strategic planning process, United Hebrew made the decision in 2019 to actively encourage its nurses to upgrade their skills and obtain specialty certifications. Their goal is to have all nurse managers to be wound care trained and certified.

“As we have a growing aging population and have been seeing an increase in chronic and complex health conditions in older adults referred to our facility, wound care specialization seemed the smart thing to do,” says Jerome Bagaporo, Assistant Administrator for Clinical Services. “We felt having wound certified nurses on staff would make a positive difference in our patient care.”

To date, four nurses at United Hebrew – Ruchi Reyes, Laresa Enderes, Thomas Philip, and Joanne Jacob Apillanes – received certification after completing intensive training through the Wound Care Education Institute. Certification signifies that they’ve mastered the essential knowledge and skills in treating skin and wound management above and beyond what is required for basic nursing licensure. Nursing homes are not required to have wound certified nurses, and many don’t. It is unusual for one nursing home to have four certified nurses on staff, notes Bagaporo.

“Many nursing homes have a wound doctor who visits on a weekly basis to help diagnose wounds and create treatment plans. Our nurses fill a gap. They make an initial assessment and treatment recommendation without waiting for a doctor to make the rounds. The sooner we start treatment, the faster a wound will heal.”

Bagaporo expects the added specialization will provide long-lasting benefits for patients. “Our goal is to heal. Our wound certified nurses speed up that process —reducing pain and discomfort along the way.”

As for Berger, who formerly performed with several local orchestras and bands, he is now back to attending his weekly classical music appreciation program at United Hebrew and his mobility has improved. This story has a happy ending, due to the specialized care he received. He’s even enjoying socially-distanced window visits with his family.

“The care at United Hebrew is very good,” says Berger. “They notice when something is wrong, and they are always there to help me when I need it. Now, I am able to enjoy myself more.”