SPRING HILL — When one thinks of wound care, traumatic injuries from automobile accidents or slips or falls may come to mind. And those might require specialized care from the Bayfront Health Spring Hill Wound Care & Hyperbaric Center.

But among the 6,000 patients seen yearly, most are related to other medical conditions like diabetes, heart disease, etc.

“In our wound care center, we take care of patients with diabetic foot ulcers, venous leg ulcers, pressure ulcers, trauma wounds, postoperative surgical wounds that aren’t healing,” explained general surgeon Leslie Grella, a board certified wound specialist and a member of the American Board of Wound Management. “So basically, anything, head to toe, full body.”

Bayfront uses standard wound care treatments for 30 days “for what’s recommended and what’s expected,” she continued. “If the patients are not healing according to our expectations, we can use one of our advanced wound care modalities.”

They might include casting, skin substitutes, negative pressure devices, etc.

For specific wound care cases, hyperbaric treatment, available onsite, might be required. Hyperbaric treatments are used for a variety of cases including diabetic foot ulcers with depths to the bone, chronic bone infections not healing through antibiotic treatments, for post radiation patients prior to undergoing other surgical procedures to boost healing, gas gangrene, crush injuries, compromised skin grafts and more.

For post-radiation patients, Grella explained that while radiation kills cancer cells, it also changes the architecture of the healthy cells around the site. So, radiation patients will likely face challenges with healing from treatments. “Bones become more fibrotic or wood-like, with less blood vessels there and they just won’t heal,” she said.

If other treatments don’t work, the patient might then be placed in a hyperbaric chamber. “What that does is promote new blood vessel growth as the hyper oxygen comes to the tissue. It also promotes collagen formation which is a building block for healing.

The hyperbaric chamber can also help with bleeding after surgical procedures from prostate or bladder cancers. “That is another reason we might put them in the tank,” Grella said.

Bayfront Health has two monoplaced chambers, which accommodate one person. The patient goes into a clear 100 percent acrylic tube where they receive 100 percent pressurized oxygen.

Hyperbaric treatment is typically referred by a patient’s physician. But Grella said the center is equipped to receive emergency cases on occasion.

Most think of diving accidents when they think of hyperbaric chambers for decompression. Bayfront does not treat those cases because they require a multiplace chamber, one that can accommodate five or six people. They would be referred to another facility.

Wound care is a specialized, lifesaving part of the Bayfront Health umbrella of care.

Wound care is vital because any ulcer left untreated is susceptible to infection that could get into the bone. “When it extends into the bone you’re opening up a whole new level of care,” Grella explained. It now increases the length of time for the wound to heal. “It would go from a standard to an advanced wound care modality.”

Paul McCarthy of Spring Hill is an entertainer who injured his big toe while moving heavy equipment. There was pain, he remembered. “I saw stars.” But he went home and treated the injury himself.

Later, while visiting his son and daughter-in-law in Pennsylvania, McCarthy went to the hospital because his toe had developed red spots. “To make a long story short, they had to remove the toe next to the big toe and the big toe.”

A few days later, the other three toes were removed during an exploratory procedure. “This was all because I took care of the wound instead of going to a doctor.”

More than two years later, McCarthy is still dealing with issues from his injury. He is under the care of Bayfront Health Wound Care & Hyperbaric Center.

But McCarthy is thankful he had the right team in place who decided to save his foot rather than amputate immediately.

The goal is to prevent an amputation, explained Grella. “We want them up and walking on their legs.”

But it takes a team to reach the desired result. “We go to bat for the patient. But they have to want to go to bat for themselves.”

Many patients have a multitude of different doctors on their care team. “We are just another spike in their wheel,” she added. “I’ve been here 18 months and only one patient has had an amputation.”

Bayfront Health Wound Care & Hyperbaric Center is at 120 Medical Blvd., Suite 106. For more information, visit www.BayfrontSpringHill.com.