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Palomar Wound Care Center helps WWII vet, diabetic, preserve limb, using hyperbaric oxygen therapy

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Virgil Rochester of Escondido is a World War II veteran, a retired military and civilian lawyer and a longtime diabetic.

The latter condition could have cost Rochester his left foot if he had followed a physician's recommendation to amputate his diabetic, bone-infected limb.

Fortunately, he waited for a second opinion and found one he welcomed at the Palomar Wound Care Center in San Marcos. The medical staff immediately put together a multidisciplinary approach to preserve his problem limb.

"They told me there not to even talk about amputation," says Rochester, smiling while preparing to leave the outpatient clinic after another round of treatment in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber.

Roger Schechter, M.D., Medical Director of the Palomar Pomerado Health (PPH) Wound Care Centers in San Marcos and Poway, says his medical team is dedicated to healing chronic wounds that threaten limbs.

"We're not just a wound care center. We're really a limb preservation and chronic wound healing center," Dr. Schechter says.

"The Wound Care Centers specialize in treating patients with diabetic foot ulcers, pressure ulcers, venous ulcers, lower extremity arterial disease ulcers, late effects of radiation or radiation burns, surgical wounds and trauma.

"Here in the Wound Care Center, Mr. Rochester had a comprehensive team approach to healing his wound, including the participation of a wound care and hyperbaric doctor, an infectious disease physician and a podiatrist," Dr. Schechter says.

The podiatrist removed a small piece of infected bone, Schechter says, explaining the multidisciplinary approach used in Rochester's case.

Rochester is currently undergoing daily hyperbaric oxygen therapy inside a pressurized chamber where he breathes pure oxygen. The therapy allows a high concentration of oxygen to get into bloodstream, which is helping to increase his body's own natural wound-healing abilities.

"It works to kill germs, heal infected bone and heal up tissue in diabetics, who have relatively poor blood flow," says Dr. Schechter, who has special board certifications in Emergency Medicine, Undersea and Hyperbaric Medicine and Wound Care.

Rochester is expected to fully heal after he was diagnosed with a diabetic foot ulcer, limb-threatening peripheral vascular arterial occlusive disease and bone infection.

Rochester was nearly resigned to losing his foot after a physician recommended amputation in August. Fortunately, a vascular surgeon at Palomar Medical Center advised him not to go through with it and sought other treatment for him.

The vascular surgeon performed a procedure to help restore blood flow to his affected limb. Rochester was discharged and given IV antibiotics at his home. A PPH Home Health nurse told him about the Wound Care Center in San Marcos during a visit to his home.

"They do wonders. Your best bet is to get over there," Rochester recalls the nurse telling him. "I feel lucky that the (Home Health) nurse told me about the Wound Care Center.

Dr. Schechter recommends a visit to the Wound Care Centers to anybody who has a wound that has not healed fifty percent in four weeks or completely healed in eight weeks.

"Don't let somebody cut off your leg until you've had a full evaluation by a comprehensive team of specialists who are dedicated to limb preservation," Dr. Schechter says emphatically.

The Palomar Wound Care Center is at 120 Craven Road, Suite 105, San Marcos. It can be reached by calling 760.510.7300.

The Pomerado Wound Care Center is at 15611 Pomerado Road, Suite 200, Poway.It can be reached by calling 858.613.6255.

For more information about the Wound Care Centers, visit www.pph.org/woundcare.

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1 UserComments
Jean Mahlum 11:39am November 29, 2011

I read the article about HBOT with great joy. I, too, had a foot slated for amputation at Mayo, and was told there was no choice. I had multiple bone infections-a methicillin-resistant one & strep viridans, which had eaten most of the bonein the middle of my foot, including the talonavicular joint, I stumbled upon HBOT in Minneapolis, and chose that route. Initially the doctors thought it was such a mess they didn't know for sure it would work, but would try. It did, and I had my foot reconstructed out of coral calcium, cadaver bone and my bone. It worked! I'm so happy for your patient!