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WOUND CENTER SPECIALIZES IN HEALING; VARIETY OF TREATMENTS LEAD TO 80 PERCENT SUCCESS RATE.

Byline: Steve Carney Staff Writer

The open sore on his foot just would not heal - for nine years - and Carmello Gonzales lived with the constant, throbbing pain.

His doctor said he would have to amputate.

Now, after only six weeks of treatment at the Wound Care Center of Sherman Oaks Hospital, the sore has healed, and the Canoga Park man will keep his foot.

``It's amazing, and in such a short time,'' said Gonzales, a 39-year-old diabetic. ``I was losing faith. I was almost going to have them cut my foot off.''

About 5 million Americans suffer from stubborn, unhealed wounds - wounds that lead to more than half of all amputations performed today. The Wound Care Center, which will celebrate its first anniversary July 5, has treated about 100 patients so far, with an 80 percent success rate.

For Gonzales, the center's surgeons also treated another foot wound and expect to have it healed in a month.

``Most of what we do here is not all that magic,'' said Dr. Joel J. Teplinsky, the center's medical director.

He said the trick is that the Wound Care Center focuses solely on wound care, compared to facilities that are less specialized.

``You have to try a lot of different approaches to deal with different wounds,'' said Phyllis Bertrand, a registered nurse who is the center's clinical manager. ``They have their own personalities.''

General physicians couldn't possibly be familiar with all the 6,000 wound treatments on the market today. ``Medicine is a team effort. We're a partner out there,'' Bertrand said.

Many of the patients the Wound Care Center sees are diabetics, whose circulation problems often create sores that will not heal and lead to amputations. Others include the elderly with severe bedsores, or patients with cancer. Cancer treatments inhibit rapid cell growth; unfortunately, that's what wound healing is also, Teplinsky said.

``The object now is to try and prevent amputation,'' he said. ``We can get a lot of wounds to heal and save a lot of extremities. It's no longer cut them off below the knee and thank you very much.''

The center also uses a patented solution, Procuren, developed by Curative Health Services, the New York company that runs the Wound Care Center and 200 others in a network throughout the United States. Among them are centers at Verdugo Hills Hospital in Glendale, Methodist Hospital in Arcadia and Daniel Freeman Memorial Hospital in Inglewood.

Procuren is made from growth factors in the patient's own blood and stimulates healing when applied daily.

``It's one arrow in our quiver most other places just don't have,'' Teplinsky said.

It worked for Catherine Coby, one of the center's first patients, who had an infected cut in her left heel last year.

Coby said she didn't think her regular doctor was fighting the infection as aggressively as he should. Using the Procuren solution and other treatments, her doctors made the wound vanish by October.

``They were wonderful. They saved my foot,'' said Coby, a 51-year-old diabetic from Lancaster. ``I just thank God there was a Wound Center.''

CAPTION(S):

photo

Photo: Dr. Stanley Cowan treats Carmello Gonzales at the Wound Care Center.

Evan Yee/Daily News
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jun 28, 1999
Words:531
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