Jim Phillips with Joseph Cullom, M.D.
LEXINGTON, N.C. – Jan. 16, 2015 – Most people wouldn't want to go through what former State Senator Jim Phillips has endured the past four years. Always a large man at 6 feet tall, he’d put on weight—he was close to 300 pounds—and was having trouble with his knees.
At the urging of his primary care physician, Victor Farrah, M.D., of Lexington Internal Medical Care, and the encouragement of his orthopaedic surgeon, Gordon Kammire, M.D., of Wake Forest Baptist Health – Lexington Medical Center, Phillips lost 86 pounds in a little over a year, when he was 79 years old. He had a left knee replacement and, months later, his right as well.
One morning about a year ago, Phillips found he couldn’t get up from the breakfast table; his left foot and leg simply weren’t working. When he got to his doctor’s office, he was diagnosed with a stomach aneurysm that was causing circulation problems in his leg. Two months later, after surgery to repair the aneurysm, he noticed his foot was drying out, the skin very cracked. It started splitting open on the side of his big toe, and the wound got larger and worse. Phillips didn’t have enough blood flow and oxygen to heal the wound.
Phillips needed to go to a special place where wounds were treated. He had never heard of wound care, and wasn’t happy at the prospect of traveling to High Point or Durham as many as four times a week for a period of months. Then he learned about the Wound Care Center of Wake Forest Baptist Health Lexington Medical Center.
The solution to his problem was right in his hometown.
Phillips made 100 visits to the Wound Care Center’s hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) in 2014. There, four times a week for two hours at a time, he sat in a pressurized chamber that delivered 100 percent oxygen to his bloodstream, helping to fight infection, stimulate the growth of new blood vessels, improve his circulation and fully heal his foot wound.
Today, Phillips’ foot is completely healed. He said that to be able to move about without pain is remarkable.
"Walking used to feel like total pins and needles,’’ he said. Not only is that agonizing pain gone, “but I don’t need pain medicine.’’
Joseph Cullom, M.D., one of the Wound Care Center’s three physicians, said HBOT is one of several services offered at the center, which also offers treatment for people who develop complications after radiation therapy for cancer, and the application of special kinds of dressings on slow-healing wounds. The Wound Care Center has been open for five years and serves about 70 patients a month.
Many of the Wound Care Center’s patients have diabetes, and are suffering from pressure or venous ulcers, which are often in their feet because of poor circulation. Cullom estimated that a quarter of the Wound Care Center’s patients use hyperbaric oxygen therapy.
“We’ve saved a number of patients’ feet using the hyperbaric treatment; it offers a tenfold increase in oxygen,’’ he said. “Oxygen itself helps grow new capillaries. It’s also good for killing bacteria and preventing infection."
To Phillips, now 83, being in the HBOT chamber for two hours at a time was unusual, but relaxing.
“They roll you into that tank, turn the oxygen on and then you can watch TV if you like.” Phillips, though, had a different routine. He would simply relax and go to sleep.
Phillips said the HBOT treatment worked so well and was so painless that he’s been recommending it and the Wound Care Center to everyone he can.
Learn more about the Wound Care Center at http://lexington.wakehealth.edu/Wound-Care.htm.
Media contact: Amber Kirkman, firstname.lastname@example.org, 336-238-0295.
Wake Forest Baptist Health – Lexington Medical Center, with 94 acute care beds, is part of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and operates14 hospital-owned physician practices and a public pharmacy. The hospital is accredited by The Joint Commission, the nation’s esteemed standards-setting and accrediting body for health care quality. Lexington Medical Center serves as a satellite provider of Wake Forest Baptist Health specialty services including digestive health, urogynecology, neurosurgery, emergency medicine, ENT Head and Neck surgery among others.
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