Fri, March 31, 2017
Dr. Gary Griffin of West Georgia Wound Care Center in LaGrange knows many of his patients come to him as a last resort, and that’s perfectly OK with him.
“We have a lot of patients who have critical wounds—diabetic foot ulcers, vascular ulcers or non-healing surgical wounds—and their doctors have suggested amputations,” said Dr. Griffin, who joined West Georgia Wound Care Center in February. “In most of those cases, we have been able to save their limb through the advanced wound care options we offer.”
It is estimated that chronic wounds affect 6.7 million people in the United States, and the number of incidents is rising, fueled by an aging population and increasing rates of diseases and conditions such as diabetes, obesity and the late effects of radiation therapy. If left untreated, chronic wounds can lead to diminished quality of life and possible amputation of the affected limb.
At West Georgia Wound Care Center, Dr. Griffin and his team members offer comprehensive care and treatment for non-healing wounds, including hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT), antibiotics and localized care to the affected area.
HBOT speeds up the healing process by exposing one’s body to 100 percent oxygen at a pressure greater than one normally experiences. The patient breathes 100 percent oxygen inside one of two comfortable, see-through hyperbaric chambers at the Wound Care Center.
The chamber delivers high concentrations of oxygen into the bloodstream, which assists in the healing process of wounds and is effective in fighting certain types of infections. It also stimulates the growth of new blood vessels and improves circulation.
Being committed to the treatments isn’t easy, as patient James Lambeth of LaGrange can attest. Saving his foot from being amputated, though, was worth being treated in the hyperbaric chamber three hours a day, five days a week, for eight weeks.
Before he became a West Georgia Wound Care Center patient, Lambeth had an operation on his heel in July 2015 to clean a bone infection. But after he continued having complications, his doctor suggested he consider having his foot amputated.
“In the meantime, my doctor had home health come take care of me because I was in such bad shape,” said Lambeth, speaking of West Georgia Home Care. “They saw my foot and thought the Wound Care Center might be able to help me.”
Nurses at the West Georgia Wound Care Center began changing the dressing on his foot several times a week. By January 2016, he was seeing a second doctor, Dr. Vincent Scoglietti with West Georgia Surgery, whose specialties include wound care and hyperbaric medicine.
Lambeth said Dr. Scoglietti was cautiously optimistic, saying he was fairly certain Lambeth’s foot could be saved through another surgery coupled with hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) treatments at West Georgia Wound Care Center.
“I’m so glad they had faith that he could help me and that everyone at the Wound Care Center was so nice while they helped me get better,” Lambeth said. “I can’t say it was an easy journey. But at one time I didn’t know day-to-day if I would be able to keep my foot or not. But now I can move my foot; I can even drive my car.”
For the most part Dr. Griffin and the team members at West Georgia Wound Care Center treat adults, but they also see young patients, including those who have suffered from burns.
“I enjoy interacting with all my patients, but what initially attracted me to come here was knowing of the relationships I would get to build with the older generation,” he said.
Originally from the Atlanta area, Dr. Griffin earned his undergraduate and Doctor of Medicine degrees from Emory University. A medical residency in Salt Lake City, Utah, ultimately led him to caring for geriatric patients as an internist for 23 years.
As his own parents were getting older, he decided to move back to Georgia in 2015, where he cared for veterans in U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Community Living Centers in Dublin. While there, he supervised “amazing” wound care nurses and developed a passion for providing the specialized care needed to treat critical wounds.
“It’s been an easy transition to come here,” he said of the Wound Care Center in LaGrange. “I love getting to develop relationships with our patients, and it is very satisfying for all of us here to know we were a part of seeing our patients’ wounds improve when they might have lost hope.”