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Wound Healing Center Expands at INOVA

Team approach continues to work on healing wounds.

When Ruth Harvey banged her leg on the car door a few years ago she didn’t think much of it. She had a small wound that didn’t bother her much.

When she still had the wound a year later, she realized that it was a problem. She decided to go to the emergency room where she learned about the Wound Healing Center at INOVA Mount Vernon Hospital.

Harvey spent the next few months going to the center twice a week for treatments until her wound was fully healed.

“The wound didn’t hurt, but it never closed up,” Harvey said. “I was so satisfied with the center that I have recommended it to three other people, and they were all happy with it too.”

Harvey’s wound was initially cleaned and prepared for a skin graft by Dr. Eric Desman M.D., medical director, Inova Mount Vernon Hospital Dorothea R. Fisher Wound Healing Center. He specializes in plastic and reconstructive surgery and is one of a team of doctors who participate in the center.

“It’s truly a team effort — no one-man show. It’s an amazing thing and I’m honored to be a part of it,” Desman said.

Also involved in the center are two podiatrists, an orthopedic surgeon, an internist and a family practitioner.

“We are all capable of handling wounds,” Desman said. “It’s a growing industry in the medical field. It’s a fairly neglected area — not particularly glamorous.”

THERE IS SO MUCH DEMAND for this kind of treatment that last week Inova Mount Vernon Hospital opened a newly expanded Inova Dorothea R. Fisher Wound Healing Center.

The facility has doubled its size from 1,200 square-feet to 3,000 square-feet with four additional treatment bays and state-of-the-art equipment. The original center was built with a bequeathment from Dorothea R. Fisher and bears her name.

The hospital celebrated the opening with a ribbon cutting and reception. On hand was Ann Vennell, physical therapist and director of out-patient programs. She said that they see patients with chronic wounds which are a wider variety than they originally thought. Almost five million Americans suffer from chronic, non-healing wounds caused by a variety of conditions such as poorly functioning veins, ulcers related to diabetes, radiation therapy wounds and wounds from other sources.

Based on the patient’s needs, the group of doctors will confer to determine what the patient will need.

“We try to match what the problem is with the best physician,” Vennell said.

Anybody can use the facilities and more than half are self-referred. The center has specialized equipment, dressings and skin grafts.

Desman said that while they used a human graft for Harvey that there are very good artificial skin grafts available.

“Doctors have all the resources [in the center] to address problems such as arteriole insufficiency,” Desman said. “We’re the only place in this area with such a facility.”