There’s no place like home, especially for Mike Hendrix of Mt. Sterling, Kentucky. After consulting with several physicians and crossing state lines in an effort to heal a chronic foot wound, he found healing right in his own backyard at the Center for Wound Care at Clark Regional Medical Center in Winchester, Kentucky.
By the time Hendrix discovered the Center, he’d had over three years of unsuccessful treatment and was concerned about amputation. A diabetic, Hendrix is one of over 8 million Americans who suffer from chronic wounds. Complications from diabetes can make wounds much more difficult to heal and more susceptible to serious infection, amputation, or even death. The mortality rate after a major amputation is nearly 60 percent.
Hendrix’s healing journey began several years ago when his wife noticed a bloody cut on the bottom of his foot. He didn’t feel any pain because diabetic neuropathy caused a loss of sensation throughout his lower limbs, but on visual inspection it kept getting worse.
“The wound kept getting bigger and deeper, and it was starting to open up,” he said. “The first doctor treated it with debridement and dressings and prescribed a knee scooter for six months, but it didn’t heal. A second doctor shaved off part of the bone in my foot to alleviate the pressure. That didn’t work, either.”
A third physician at a large medical center in Ohio suspected Hendrix had an infection. When he tested positive for Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), he needed intensive antibiotic treatment. The wound healed in about three months.
He thought everything was OK until a few years ago when he felt a painful sensation in his leg. A neurologist diagnosed spinal stenosis and sciatic nerve issues, as well as a drop foot. He prescribed a foot brace to help prevent falls, but Hendrix developed yet another infection.
“At that point, I thought I might lose my foot,” he said. “Working as a CFO at Traditional Bank, I was fortunate to have a desk job. But I wanted to live my life and not rely on people to take care of me. At that point, I was referred to the Center for Wound Care at Clark Regional, and that changed everything.”
Located in Winchester, Kentucky in Clark County, the Center for Wound Care at Clark Regional Medical Center is an outpatient wound care program specializing in evidence-based treatment protocols for problem wounds including diabetic foot ulcers, venous ulcers, pressure injuries, necrotizing soft tissue infections, osteomyelitis, and delayed radiation injuries. To aid in the healing process, the Center also offers hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT), where the patient is given 100 percent oxygen in a pressurized environment. The combination of pressure and oxygen increases the amount of oxygen in the bloodstream, helping the wound heal more quickly.
When he first visited the clinic, Hendrix had never heard of hyperbaric oxygen therapy.
“They had a brochure about it and I thought it was really interesting, but I didn’t know how it worked,” he said.
After meeting the Center’s medical director, Charles “Jack” Arnold, MD, he was prescribed wound vac treatment, or vacuum-assisted wound closure, followed by daily hyperbaric oxygen therapy sessions for seven weeks.
“Mr. Hendrix had been suffering for a long time,” said Dr. Arnold. ‘We initially tried some basic treatment but when we used the hyperbaric oxygen chamber, we saw dramatic improvement within a month. He was also very compliant and came in for all his appointments, which is a huge component to healing a wound.”
According to Layne Hazel, program director, having a wound center in a rural area like Winchester helps Mr. Hendrix and many other patients in Clark county avoid infections and stay out of the ER. The majority of the Center’s wound care patients have diabetes.
According to the American Diabetes Association, diabetes is common in Kentucky, with 14.5 percent or 531,646 people diagnosed. In addition, more than 1.1 million Kentuckians, or 35.5 percent of the state’s population, have prediabetes, with blood glucose levels higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes.
“The need for specialized wound care in this area is huge,” she said. “Many patients don’t receive the health care they need because they live so far away. It’s important to get treatment early on in order to prevent serious infection or amputation.”
According to Hendrix, finding a wound center close to home improved his quality of life tremendously. It was easier to come in for his daily appointments because it was a short drive.
“They were close to home and the staff was absolutely the best, from the front desk to the technicians, to the nurses and Dr. Arnold, ” said Hendrix. “They are all very passionate about what they do. I’d give them an A++. I feel like I have my life back.”
If you are having a problem with a chronic wound, contact the Center for Wound Care at Clark Regional Medical Center by calling 859-737-6655.