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Celebrating The Resolution Of A Chronic Wound and Giving Patients Our Empathy

As the patient prepared to leave after their final wound care visit, she exited the treatment room and stopped to vigorously clang the bell that sits atop the office’s counter. The sound symbolizes that a wound has healed. The toll is heard throughout the halls of the clinic, and all providers respond with unanimous applause, cheers, and well-wishes.

How ironic then, that at such a moment of triumph, there could be an undertow of deflation and sadness. The sincerely grateful patient sighed and said, “Now, I don’t know what I will do. What shall I do?”

What an odd twist. She lamented of being bored, depressed, confined to her home, limited by masks, unable to hug neighbors, friends, or family. There has been no happy hour. “What shall I do?”

We are experiencing a time when the brokenness of our patients exceeds and extends far beyond the physicality of their wounds. Have you considered that your patient may indeed look forward to seeing you for more than a wound? As wound care providers, we have verbal and physical encounters with our patients. Let’s not take those interactions for granted. Yes, we must document those key performance indicators and reconcile medications, inquire about eating habits and sleeping patterns. Our patients literally may require hands-on care whether by wound debridement or the application of a compression wrap.

Let us not overlook the meaningful opportunities before us. Each day, at work, we purposefully serve with the goal to heal the wound. The manner by which we deliver this care may be frankly therapeutic. Have you considered that our attentive presence may earnestly give the patient purpose? Our meaningful empathy creates the foundational means by which we attain the goal together. Smiles will abound beneath the masks. It is indeed a happy time.

Let us be humble in our deeds, and generous in spirit as we deliver care to others.

Until next time …

Monique Abner, MD, CWSPMonique Abner, MD, CWSP, is affiliated with Wound Healing & Hyperbaric Medicine, part of Tower Health Medical Group, in Wyomissing, PA. Dr. Abner's professional affiliations include the American Society of Plastic Surgery, Diplomate of the American Board of Plastic Surgeons, member of the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society, and member of the Association for the Advancement of Wound Care.

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