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Information for Patients & Visitors

Connie Lattimer - Fitzgibbon Offers Specialty Care for Hard-to-Heal Wounds

     We are used to receiving little injuries when we go about our daily lives. From the time we were young, cuts and scrapes were common, and most of these injuries heal themselves. However, as we age or fight certain diseases, our body’s ability to heal wounds becomes more difficult, and help is needed from a wound care specialist like Suzanne Vogelsmeier, Board-Certified Advanced Practice Nurse, Certified Wound Care Specialist in the Fitzgibbon Outpatient Clinics. Such hard-to-heal wounds were a recent and continuing experience for Connie Latimer, who began her wound-healing journey a year ago.

            “It started out as this spot on my leg that really bothered me,” said Latimer. “I had surgery to remove it. As time went on, it just wasn’t healing. One day I hit that area with the corner of my car door, and that’s when I realized that the wound was probably something I needed to ask my doctor about. When Dr. Ryan saw it, he immediately referred me for wound care.”

            Latimer’s wound started out nearly the size of a dime. But unbeknownst to her, the infection had increased in size beneath her skin, hidden to the naked eye. Ultimately, the wound was nearly five inches in diameter below the surface.

            Untreated wounds that do not heal carry a risk of advancing into a larger infection, possible life-threatening sepsis, which is a multi-system infection, and even – in the most severe cases – the need for limb amputation. So it is vitally important that non-healing wounds are examined by a professional.

“When I would work, it is in a spot where my jeans would rub and just make it worse,” said Latimer.

            “It was difficult to treat because there were other factors involved in Connie’s wound,” said Vogelsmeier. “She had some veins underneath the skin that had to be treated with a laser ablation procedure. There are times when we have to collaborate with other physicians, including orthopedic or vascular surgeons, before we can really begin to heal.”

            Once Latimer had the varicose vein issue resolved below the skin, she made weekly visits to see Vogelsmeier over the next 10 months for wound care. Latimer prides herself on being a great patient.

            “I don’t think I speak out of turn when I say I get a ‘gold star’ as a patient. I was faithful to do everything I was asked to do and make ALL my appointments, isn’t that right, Suzanne?” quipped Latimer, with a big smile.

            “You are certainly a great patient, Connie. You did everything right plus a few extra things,” bantered Vogelsmeier, while emphasizing how important it was that Latimer kept her weekly appointments so her wound could receive the treatment it needed to heal. Latimer’s wound has made such great progress she is now able to reduce her visits to every two weeks.

            Latimer is quick to comment about the quality of the care she has received from Vogelsmeier.

            “Suzanne has provided so much education while she has provided care. I’ve learned so much and have been able to be a resource for others at work or in the community about this,” said Latimer.

“If you have a chronic health problem like diabetes or poor circulation or other chronic conditions, it is probably better to not wait to have your wound looked at,” said Vogelsmeier. “Connie didn’t have any of those and still the wound needed additional assistance to heal. You can make an appointment directly with our office, you do not need to go to your primary provider first.”

Vogelsmeier says that there is no hard and fast rule about when a person should be seen for care, but she cautions that it would always be better to find out that you are doing okay and that no further intervention is needed than to wait too long and learn the road to recovery will be much more difficult.

“If you have a wound you have been caring for, make an appointment. The sooner, the better,” said Vogelsmeier. “If you are healthy, otherwise, and you have been healing for three weeks or so, and it still not getting better, then you really need to get in here for an appointment.”

            Latimer is thankful that Vogelsmeier and Fitzgibbon Hospital were there for her when she needed them. If she had to leave the community for weekly treatments to heal, she knows the challenge it would have caused for her.

“People have no idea what’s here. They need to check here first to see what’s available, because there are more specialties here than people realize. Why would you want to go to another community when you may be able to get the care you need right here at Fitzgibbon?”

To schedule an appointment with wound specialist Suzanne Vogelsmeier in the Fitzgibbon Outpatient Clinics, on the second floor of Fitzgibbon Hospital, call (660) 886-8414.