Joseph Bivens, M.D. is the new medical director of The Wound Clinic at Pioneers Memorial Healthcare District.
The Wound Clinic at Pioneers recently named Joseph Bivens, M.D. as its new medical director. In practice for more than 20 years with a background in plastic and reconstructive surgery, Dr. Bivens takes a holistic approach to wound care and evaluates each patient carefully to create a comprehensive treatment plan. He has a keen interest in identifying and addressing underlying causes, controlling infection, and improving the overall health of each patient for the best wound healing outcomes.
Q: Tell us what sparked your interest in becoming a physician and surgeon.
A: Since I was very young, I’ve always loved puzzles and putting things back together. If Humpty Dumpty fell off the wall and you wanted him back together, I’d be the guy to do it. So when I went to medical school at UC San Diego, I had an interest in plastic surgery and reconstruction of the body. In wound care, you have a broken hole that needs healing, and it’s my job as a physician and surgeon to identify what’s necessary to fill that hole and heal it.
Q: What kinds of wounds do you typically see at The Wound Clinic?
A: We treat many patients with diabetic ulcers. This happens when a lower extremity is not perfusing very well and an injury – a scratch, cut or abrasion – produces a chronic wound. We also see a lot of venous stasis ulcers and pressure ulcers. Many people, as they get older, don’t have cushion mass on the bones, and they can get a pressure point. The tissues become necrotic and start to die, and a pressure ulcer develops.
Q: What kind of treatment options do you have for patients at Pioneers?
A: Debridement is probably the most common technique. We get rid of anything that is not viable. If it’s dead, it has to go away. Once the wound is clean, we need to cover it to help the healing process. We do this with many advanced therapies and dressings such as skin substitutes or grafts, which adhere to the wound so skin cells can grow over them. We also have three hyperbaric chambers. I love hyperbaric medicine because it helps wounds heal by utilizing high concentrations of oxygen and pressure, which work very well together.
Q: Do you believe that it’s possible to heal every wound?
A: Yes, we believe that every wound has the propensity to heal. And if it’s not healing, it’s because there’s some kind of problem. Either it’s mechanical, meaning there’s something wrong with the structure, or it’s biochemical, meaning there’s something within the system of the individual that’s preventing the wound from healing. We’re specialists in identifying the defects that prevent a wound from healing.
Q: How important is patient compliance?
A: Patient compliance is extremely important, especially because of underlying disease processes. It helps wounds heal more quickly. I may ask patients to keep their leg elevated, eat properly, reduce sodium, or change wound dressings twice a day. It’s very important to follow those directions. Sometimes caregivers or family members step in, which is also very helpful.
Q: What is your impression of The Wound Clinic at Pioneers Memorial Health District?
A: This is an excellent wound program. I’ve been at other wound centers throughout the country, and the relationship Pioneers Memorial has with the community is extraordinary. The people are very important to the hospital, and the hospital is very important to the community. The Wound Clinic also has wonderful personnel. Everyone is very committed – not only to managing the wounds, but taking good care of the patients.
Q: What excites you most about wound care?
A: Wound care, in and of itself, is not very exciting. The exciting part is having the tools we need to heal the wounds. I like to understand the complexity of a patient’s life, how it resulted in that wound, and help them resolve some of the issues that led to it. It’s very gratifying to see a patient participate in healing his or her own wound. As soon as you do that, you have a healthier patient. If we can get that wound to heal, it’s not because of me as much as it is about taking a comprehensive approach. It’s a very holistic approach to success, and it works.