NIAGARA FALLS – After a month or more of care without success, some cases of chronic or nonhealing wounds need specialized care. That is where the new Wound Care Center at Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center comes in.
The new center will hold an open house and ribbon-cutting ceremony from noon to 6 p.m. Nov. 7 and will have a grand opening Nov. 12.
Niagara Falls native Aaron Wilson will serve as the center’s program director and join Dr. Michael J. Mitchell, a general, vascular and laparoscopic surgeon, who will serve as the center’s medical director.
Wilson, 35, has two bachelor’s degrees, a bachelor of health science from Brockport State College and a bachelor of science in nursing from the Decker School of Nursing at Binghamton University.
He most recently worked as a clinical specialist in negative pressure wound therapy and in sales and marketing as a tissue regeneration specialist.
Wilson has been married 12 years and is the father of a 12-year-old boy and 8-year-old girl.
You are originally from Niagara Falls?
I grew up on 97th Street in the LaSalle area.
So it must be nice to come home and work back in your hometown.
Absolutely. That was the attraction to this job. Being from the community, I understand the community. I am a grass-roots kind of guy. I know some of the history, and to be able to bring an advanced center like this to the community is just so exciting.
How long have you been at Niagara Falls Memorial?
I started on Sept. 9. I had been working in medical marketing and sales for the last year with Organogenesis, which is bioengineered skin substitutes – skin made from donated foreskin, live living cells. And prior to that I had worked for three years with Advanced Therapies as a clinical consultant.
So skin is your thing.
It really is – and healing it.
How did you come to be involved in your specialty?
I was in orthopedics for about seven years in Cooperstown. I just got into the medical field because I was lost after my bachelor’s in health education. There weren’t a lot of health education jobs in New York State at the time. So I went to Cooperstown. They offered me a job in medical records or surgical pathology. I had no clue at the time what surgical pathology was, but I said I’ll try that, and I ended up the second day on the job (in 2001) doing autopsies.
Is it something you enjoyed?
I found out that the body is a fascinating machine. Just the way that it healed itself and interacted with itself. The way another part of the body would pick up and produce and build it up. It’s something that I fell in love with, the human body and how it works. I actually got into reading and studying it, and my passion grew. I moved to orthopedics from there and ended up doing the wound care for the hospital.
What is wound care? It’s not about open gaping holes is it?
No, not at all. The hardest wounds to heal out there are those small little foot ulcers, diabetic foot ulcers. The longer a wound is open, the worse it is for that patient because of having that open port. When you are elderly, it can be a lot more serious. It can lead to amputation, and death in some cases. It’s a shutting-down process. People don’t realize the five-year mortality rate of an amputation. It’s higher than every cancer out there except for lung cancer.
Why is that?
It’s a big strain on the body. And when somebody gets an amputation, their health is already declining, and they are already on that path. It’s a change of lifestyle. Somebody was walking around everywhere, and now they can’t and may also have congestive heart failure or diabetes. They end up exacerbating those issues.
Why is a wound care center important at Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center?
It’s an underserved specialty anywhere. To hear that mortality rate with diabetic foot ulcers that I just told you about and know that we have cancer centers everywhere, but we don’t have something to concentrate on these wounds, it’s a specialty that’s not focused on enough. The big thing about wounds is there’s so many reasons to have a wound. To have a primary care doctor try to heal it without the vascular studies and infectious disease background, they are kind of throwing the kitchen sink at it.
Is diabetes one of the big issues you will have to deal with?
Absolutely. This is an impoverished area, and with poverty you see wounds, complications with health. There is a huge population in this area with diabetes, but also with chronic wounds. What we are trying to do here with this state-of-the-art technology is to be able to give some of the best therapies to these patients.
What are some of the therapies and services you will provide?
We will have an outpatient setting where patients will be followed on a weekly basis. We will have access to skin substitutes, negative pressure wound therapy, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, doing all the vascular studies, such as tissue oxygenation studies, and special boots. We will be working with vendors to be able get special mattresses for patients who have pressure ulcers.
What are hyperbaric chambers? They sound like a major piece of equipment.
It is like taking a patient and putting them under the water – 66 feet. You’ve probably been underwater 7 feet deep, and you feel the pressure and your ears popping. What this does is condense the oxygen and press it into the most needed areas, the wound, which is there because of lack of ability to heal. What this does is force the body to build branches (of capillaries) to the wound and promote blood flow and carry the essential nutrients to heal the wound. This is advanced technology. We will have two of them and hopefully be able to “dive” six to eight patients, put patients into the chamber, six to eight a day.
What is the most important thing about the Wound Care Center in Niagara Falls?
What we are offering is a multidisciplinary approach. A lot of doctors following patients. We have 10 physicians on our panel. When a patient comes in with a wound, we try to find the root problem and work toward the healing process.