Dedicated Wound Center Means a Higher Level of Care
Charlie Brannon, 52, of Alexandria, and his wife, Beth, credit a team effort at Virginia Hospital Center for saving not only his legs, but possibly his life. It’s a compelling story that covers almost a full year.
Last March, Charlie was admitted to Virginia Hospital Center for treatment of a heart attack, congestive heart failure and atrial fibrillation (AFib). Jeremy Bock, MD, FACC, found that the heart conditions, combined with a rare blood-clotting disorder, caused a blood clot to form in Charlie's heart and travel to the arteries of his legs. This caused complete obstruction of the blood flow in both of his legs.
“Over multiple procedures, we were able to remove the large clot in Charlie’s left leg and clean out as many of the smaller clots in the right leg as possible,” says Dr. Bock.
Unfortunately, Charlie continued to make new blood clots despite being on anticoagulant medication. Shortly after his release from Virginia Hospital Center, he was rushed to the hospital nearest his home with a large pulmonary embolism—a blood clot in his lungs. In an effort to save his life, he was placed in a medically induced coma, where he remained for two months.
Because of the remaining clots in his leg, Charlie developed an ischemic wound on his right foot that was not healing because it did not have enough blood supply.
“The body has a hard time healing an infection when blood flow and oxygen cannot reach the wound. The result is tissue death, which may require an amputation. The better approach is to resupply the foot with blood whenever possible, which is what we were able to do for Charlie,” says Dr. Bock.
Charlie returned to Virginia Hospital Center where Dr. Bock performed additional procedures to open up the artery to improve blood flow to his foot. He also began treatment at the hospital’s Wound Healing & Hyperbaric Center.
Wound care is a multidisciplinary effort, and Charlie was treated by a number of specialists and caregivers.
“As a hospitalist, I helped coordinate care for Charlie when he was hospitalized here,” says Peter Karacki, MD. “We serve as a direct liaison between the family and the Hospital, and bring together any necessary consults with specialists.”
“We work with a team that can include vascular surgeons, podiatrists, infectious disease specialists, nurses and, of course, the patient’s own primary care physician,” explains Ali Asad Arastu, MD. “Every member of the patient’s team has access to the patient’s electronic health record, including medical history, physician notes and test results, resulting in highly coordinated care.”
“Dr. Arastu and his team always take time to talk with us and answer our questions,” says Beth. “They follow up, not just with Charlie, but with me and with our primary care doctor. If I can’t come to an appointment, I send a note with questions and they call me to go over their answers.”
Charlie continues to undergo treatment, but his wound is healing. He was recently given a cast, so he can walk without putting pressure on the sore on his foot.
“The advantage to being treated here is not only do patients have easy access to the many specialists, but to the most advanced treatments and latest technology,” says Dr. Arastu. “We use advanced graft materials, ultrasound machines that clean wounds using water spray to kill bacteria, and 50 to 100 different types of complex dressings. Because our center is dedicated to wound care, patients like Charlie are able to receive a higher level of care."