HELENA - The wound care center at Saint Peter's Health is passing the first anniversary of its opening and is currently ranked in the top third for centers of this kind.
So it brings into question, what is this group doing right?
“We've been standing up pretty well. We have a 95% heal rate if we eliminate the difficult, palliative patients or the end-of-life patients. And overall, we have about an 83% heal rate," said the center's director, Dr. John Galt.
The center has a partnership with Healogics, which allows the health care workers at the center to take photographs and put them into an app that will analyze the wound and track the changes across the patient's tenure at the center, which is a big help according to Galt.
"In the past, you know, as a general surgeon, we'd get out a ruler, and we'd kind of do a measurement of the wound, kind of guessing on the millimeters and that's how we would monitor that progress before. So this is, you know, clearly a step up from what I've been used to in the last 25 years as a surgeon."
Prior to the opening of the center, wound care was done in several medical settings like at physical therapy clinics.
When Saint Peter's wound care center opened, Galt noted it was like trying to drink through a fire hose with how many patients they were seeing. Though there are still some challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic Galt’s very thankful he has a good team to work with to provide care to the Helena area.
“When we were having days where 25, 50% of our staff wasn't showing up, and we still had patients walking through the door, I had a lot of wound care nurses — nurses doing a lot of really hard work,” said Galt.
Kali Welch is a patient of the center and started working with them to help heal a wound in October of 2021, and in that time, she noted the staff has made what’s for most people an awful experience, an almost positive one.
“It's a really scary thing — was a really scary thing. And they have been able to make me feel so comfortable every time I'm in here, and help that process move smoothly. So that, you know, healing is less as a little traumatic as it has to be,” said Welch.
Welch said across the last several months, her wound has been healing constantly and she’ll be coming up on a time where she won’t need this kind of care anymore — which she says will be a great day, but a bittersweet one nonetheless.
“I'm going to be over the moon excited that I don't need this level of care. And then I'm ready to take the next steps in healing and returning to life. But I'm also going to be really sad not to be seeing these people every day,” said Welch.
As for the future of the center, Galt says there's still plenty to learn and grow upon, but the fact they've been able to be this successful early on is a welcome sight.
"I want to take this to where we make sure we provide adequate therapy on a timely basis for all the patients that need us," said Galt. That was my biggest goal for the first year, and I think we've done a pretty good job accomplishing that."