Shirley Putz - Harrison, MI
"I cannot say enough good things about them. I owe them a big debt of gratitude."
Diligence, Patience and Teamwork Help Heal Stubborn Wound
In October of 2014, Shirley Putz and her husband Mark were shopping at a local mall. "We had started down the escalator, just a few steps from the top, when I fell," Shirley said. "My husband tried to grab me but he couldn't. On the way down, I thought 'well this is it for me' but then I felt arms around me that guided me to the bottom."
Somehow, Shirley fell relatively unscathed almost the entire length of the escalator. "Some nice people at the bottom caught me and kept my clothes from getting tangled."
Thanks to the kindness of strangers, and what Shirley believes was divine intervention, she walked away with just a sprained thumb and a large bruise on the outside of her left calf, a few inches above the ankle. "It was really tender and sore," she said. "A hematoma came up in the middle of the bruise, and then broke, and an infection developed."
For a full week, Shirley was treated with antibiotics delivered via a catheter in her arm. When the sore didn't respond to conventional treatments, she was sent to the Wound Treatment Center.
The Wound Treatment Center at MyMichigan Medical Center Midland, provides specialized treatment for chronic or non-healing wounds, which are defined as sores or wounds that have not healed after 30 days of conventional treatments. When wounds persist, specialized methods, like those offered at the Wound Treatment Center, are required for healing.
"They are the most wonderful people over there," Shirley said. "When they first took me in, they looked at the opening on my leg and thought it would take a few weeks to heal."
At first, she was progressing as planned. "Every time I went in, it got a little better and then a lot better," Shirley said. "Then it started going the other way." Her weekly visits to the Wound Center extended far beyond the anticipated month of treatment. "They tried all sorts of different treatments, even a skin graft and it wouldn't take." Through it all, Shirley said the staff was kind and supportive. "They were really caring."
Physician Assistant Laura Scott agreed that Shirley's treatment took longer than anticipated. "Our goal for most patients is 12-15 weeks of treatment," Scott said. "Shirley was atypical in that respect; however, each individual is unique as is their treatment plan."
Scott said they tried a variety of treatments to help Shirley. "We have access to a lot of different therapies and we take a very systematic approach to find the right treatment for each patient," she said. She added that underlying issues - kidney problems, diabetes, or perhaps multiple issues - often contribute to lack of healing. "We look at those issues one by one and try to overcome them."
In Shirley's case, swelling was one of the underlying issues that worked against healing, Scott said. "Ultimately we treated her with a collagen product and an Unna boot, a type of compression wrap," Scott said. "It kept the swelling under control so the healing could begin."
Shirley said wearing the Unna boot was frustrating but necessary. "They took an ultrasound of my leg and showed me what was going on with the fluid pockets and the swelling. That really helped me. After seeing that, Mark and I could understand why it was taking so long to heal and why I needed the boot," Shirley said. "And we could see regression when we didn't use the boot," Scott added.
After nearly a year of treatment, Shirley turned the corner and the wound began to heal. "Now all I have is a beautiful scar," she said. She praised the staff at the Wound Treatment Center for their persistence, their patience and their kindness. "They are so wonderful, just plain wonderful. I took a bad fall and it takes a long time to heal from that. They handled it and handled it well. I’d recommend them to anyone."
Scott said a shared mission, common values and excellent teamwork help the Wound Treatment Center succeed with even challenging cases. "We have a really good group of providers who care deeply for the patients, and want to get them back to their normal routine," she said.
Shirley agrees completely. "I cannot say enough good things about them," she said. "I owe them a big debt of gratitude."
MyMichigan’s Wound Treatment Centers in Alma, Alpena, Clare, Midland and West Branch provide specialized treatment for chronic or non-healing wounds. The Centers feature physicians and other clinical experts with advanced training and expertise in wound management as well as state-of-the-art technology, including hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Learn more at www.mymichigan.org/woundcenter.