Jacksonville Beach, FL – Approximately 6.7 million people in the United States are living with chronic wounds, and that number is expected to increase by 2% annually over the next decade.1 An aging population and increasing rates of diseases and conditions such as diabetes, obesity, and late effects of radiation therapy contribute to the chronic wound epidemic. More than $50 billion per year is spent in the U.S. caring for these nonhealing wounds.2 Additionally, more than 29.1 million Americans are living with diabetes.3 Of those, 25% will eventually develop a foot ulcer due to complications. In an effort to promote activities related to the month of November serving as Diabetes Awareness Month to help shed light on the deadly condition that’s so often associated with chronic wounds, wound care staff members at Baptist Beaches Center for Wound Care and Hyperbaric Medicine, a Healogics Inc. facility, are sharing a recent encounter with a chronic wound patient who with the help of his providers has taken the appropriate steps to heal a diabetic foot ulcer (DFU) and take better control of his condition.
Jimmy’s Journey to Healing
As the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S., diabetes is a complex disease with many risk factors including heredity, age, diet, inactivity, and obesity. There are about 8.1 million Americans living with diabetes who are unaware of their disease. Jimmy Hammonds is not one of them. Diagnosed with diabetes many years ago, Hammonds had long known those who live with the disease are at risk for losing their limbs. Still, he was not prepared for the news that he received after recently visiting his podiatrist for an ulcer that he had noticed on the bottom of his foot. “He said I had bone sticking out of my foot and that he didn’t know what to do about it,” said Hammonds, of Jacksonville. He was immediately referred to the wound clinic for further consultation. A series of hyperbaric oxygen treatment (HBOT) was ordered. Though staff at Baptist Beaches always incorporates education associated with nutrition and risks related to heart disease, stroke, lack of circulation, and feeling in the lower limbs, as well as other complications that can result in hard-to-heal wounds, the importance of proper foot care has been a prevailing theme during Diabetes Awareness Month and is something that was not lost on Hammonds. However, despite his willingness to make all appointments and to follow the instructions he’d been given for self-care while away from the clinic, his results were not completely encouraging. After several weeks of HBOT care he still experienced protrusion of the bone. It often left him feeling disappointed and dejected, even if he was still being steadfast about his appointment schedule.
“One challenging part of the treatment with Jimmy was we were probably about one-third of the way into it and he plateaued,” said Gregory (Spike) Speicher, EMT-P, CHT, safety director at Healogics. “It’s hard when the patient’s walking out of here with their head down. But we told him, ‘we’re not giving up, so you can’t give up on us.’”
Fears of not being able to walk or dive his prized Corvette around town began to make him considerably anxious.
“I felt very helpless,” Hammonds said. “I was terrified that I was going to lose my foot.”
Staff members were concerned too.
“Normally, when we see patients come in, we take a look at the wound and will have a plan about what we want to do and the products that we want to use,” said Dawn Weber, RN, nurse case manager with Healogics. “[With Jimmy], we went through several different modalities of treatments here and we got to a point where we pretty much exhausted every single thing we could think of. But one thing that we noticed was that when he was in the chamber watching TV he’d be wiggling his toes. So, we decided to make ‘a sandwich’ with his toes using material at the top and bottom of his feet so that his toes could not move at all. Amputation was never an option in our plan of care.”
At that point the results began to become more positive.
“We began to see the wound bed getting smaller and the exposed bone going back into the skin like it’s supposed to,” Speicher said. “We persevered and he was a very dedicated patient, which is absolutely necessary. Jimmy’s compliance to his treatment plan was imperative for success.”
The team members at Baptist Beaches who were involved in Hammonds’ care included Weber; Speicher; Anamika Agrawal, DO, panel physician; and Denise Anderson, RN, program director at the facility who, as part of the facility’s initiative to Diabetes Awareness Month, said she builds relationships with local physicians and within the community to help showcase how the center can benefit people who are living with chronic wounds.
“The patients in our center are like family to us,” Anderson said. “We make them part of the team by involving them in the process. Some of our patients have [lived with their] wounds for a very long time, sometimes years; so they already know what didn’t work in the past. We help them get to the ‘why’ it didn’t work. We find out what concerns them so we can better help them to overcome the obstacles that are keeping the wound from healing. Why doesn’t that patient want to get that diagnostic test or procedure? Is there a good reason? Can we help them work through it or find another way to get it done? Our team will overturn every rock in the process to get them to heal. The patients see that it is just as important to us as it is to them and that they are worth the effort. And they see that we truly believe in them and their ability to be successful. They know they can fully commit to us, because we are already fully committed to them. This is the winning combination that works.”
Now healed, Hammonds said he’s back to enjoying his life.
“Every day is a bonus because I don’t have to worry about getting out of bed knowing that I can’t walk right,” he said.
Video Documentary: For a more personal look at patient Jimmy Hammonds, click here.
1. Market Sizing and Assessment of Outsourced Outpatient Wound Care. L.E.K. Consulting.
2. Fife CE, Carter MJ, Walker D, Thomson B. Wound care outcomes and associated cost among patients treated in US outpatient wound centers: data from the US wound registry. WOUNDS. 2012;24(1):10–17.
3. Statistics About Diabetes. Overall Numbers, Diabetes and Prediabetes. American Diabetes Association. Accessed online: www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/statistics.