SUNNYSIDE, WA - Juan Mendoza’s injury started as a simple blister caused by new tennis shoes. He assumed the small skin abrasion would resolve itself with simple home remedies, but because Mendoza is diabetic, the blister became a severe diabetic ulcer and threatened his life.

The infection was deep in the limb tissue and had reached the bone by the time he arrived at Astria Sunnyside Hospital’s emergency room. 

Lucky for Juan, he was met there by Dr. Tracy Berg, an Astria Health Board-Certified General Surgeon who specializes in wound care treatment. 

sunnyside patient

With her team, she was immediately able to assess the severity of the wound and the threat to Juan’s life.  Thankfully, the hospital also has a Wound Care Center fully equipped with hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) technology and a trained team of specialists to help patients like Juan.  Dr. Berg was able to begin treatment immediately. 

On January 4th, Juan Mendoza completed his 40th and final hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) treatment at the Wound Care Center and is now on his way to a full recovery.  Without the hospital’s HBOT chambers and the expert care of the Wound Care team, “amputation was imminent,” said Dr. Berg. Luckily, Juan was able to avoid losing a limb, and quite possibly, his life. 

sunnyside patient 1

Years ago, Juan’s own brother died from a septic diabetic ulcer. “I am so lucky,” said Juan. “This team—they know what they’re doing and they keep me going.”

According to the Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association, the loss of a limb due to severe infection in diabetics is not uncommon, 15% of all diabetics will develop chronic wounds. Approximately 70,000 diabetics will undergo amputation each year.

HBOT treatment helps the body’s wound-healing process function more efficiently. Patients undergoing this type of treatment are placed in an enclosed chamber at greater-than-normal atmospheric pressure. They are also breathing pure oxygen during treatment which saturates the blood plasma and allows it to carry 15 to 20 times the normal amount of healing oxygen to the body’s tissue to heal chronic or severe wounds.

Juan is among 8.6% of the population of Washington state diagnosed with Diabetes in 2016, that’s a little over 53,000 people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While Juan needs additional orthopedic procedures to help him get back to work and doing what he loves, he is now healthy and happy thanks to the Wound Care team at Astria Sunnyside Hospital.

sunnyside patient 2

With the high incidence of diabetes and the chance of severe wound infections among diabetic patients, Dr. Berg and Astria Health are hoping create awareness of the need for appropriate wound care treatment among diabetic patients living in the Valley.  The goal of the Wound Care Center at Astria Sunnyside Hospital is to help patients avoid amputation due to chronic wounds.  For more information about the Wound Care Center at Astria Sunnyside Hospital, call 509.837.1500 or visit the Astria Health Website www.astria.health

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