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June 2023: Dawn Grothe, RN and Certified Wound Care Nurse on Wound Care basis

June 1, 2023
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June is Wound Health Awareness Month and Dawn joins us from the Lake Region Healthcare Wound Care Center to celebrate this team and educate us on Wound Care basis. She shares tips on when you know a wound needs medical attention, things you can do to improve the wound healing process, and more about what the Wound Care Center team does to help people with acute or chronic wound care needs.


Katie Johnson: Well, good morning and welcome to Apple A Day. It's Lake Region Healthcare's Health and Wellness show where we feature news and information you can use to live a healthier life. I'm Katie Johnson, your host, and my guest today is Dawn Grothe. She is in Lake Region Healthcare's Wound Care Center. And perhaps a little known fact, June is Wound Health Awareness Month and that's why we've chosen to feature our Wound Care Center because this month is really a time set aside to raise awareness around wound healing and recognize some of the challenges that are experienced by people whose lives are affected daily by chronic wounds. Or maybe you have something acute that needs attention. And it's, of course, also a time to just really lift up the amazing work of wound care specialists, what they do to help with wound healing and the educational resources they can provide to our community. And Dawn is one of those people, and I know she's going to share a lot of great information with us this morning. So good morning, Dawn. Thanks for taking some time to join us today.

Dawn Grothe, RN...: Well, thank you and I appreciate the opportunity to talk about our Wound Care Center here at Lake Region Healthcare.

Katie Johnson: It really is a special place. Every time I hear a patient who's had an experience at the Wound Care Center, they have nothing but positive things to say about the people and their experience and their outcomes. So it is kind of a best kept secret in some ways, but we don't want it to stay that way. So we'll talk more about what happens at the Wound Care Center, but before we do, let's just introduce our listeners to you a little bit and tell them about who you are and what your background is, and how you ended up in the Wound Care Center.

Dawn Grothe, RN...: Sure, sure. Well, I have been a nurse for 34 years, and so I've done a few different things. My last 20 years prior to the Wound Care Center was spent in surgery, so I was definitely used to the world of working very diligently to fix what we could fix.

And so, just by opportunity, I was brought into Lake Region Healthcare with the inception of the Wound Care Center, and that was about three and a half years ago, three years ago last March. And I was hired when we were putting everything together, the development, and I just am very grateful for that opportunity that was given to me.

Katie Johnson: It has been a great fit from what I can tell. And you mentioned it's just three years in the making. Tell us a little bit more about the team that's assembled there in the Wound Care Center.

Dawn Grothe, RN...: Sure. So it is comprised of, we have four registered nurses. We also have, right now, eight providers that will see patients in the Wound Care Center, in addition to other specialties that will also see patients with us as a need be basis. And so, we have a wonderful, I call it the dream team of providers to be able to see people that have wound care needs,

Katie Johnson: Yeah. Like you said, so many with varied backgrounds and specialties that really can address any kind of need that walks through the door.

Let's talk a little bit more about what wound care is. One of the slogans on the wound care brochure that we put together is it's more than just a dressing change. So maybe that's a misconception or a myth that we can bust today. How would you describe what wound care really is?

Dawn Grothe, RN...: Absolutely. That is definitely just a very touch of what really wound care is. It can actually be a life and limb saving medicine actually. We are treating wounds that are either acutely happening, say you have a little incident with a chop saw or the table saw, log splitting is usually in the winter or fall time, all the way to more of our diabetic ulcers or vascular disease, that type of thing. So it really encompasses quite a bit.

And it's a complex science in order to be able to treat the wounds more from a more of a technology base than is just a bandaid. And it's also looking at the individual from, we have kind of a little slogan that I had heard one time that we don't treat just the hole, but it's the whole person. Because there's so much more that goes into wound healing than just what do we put on for a dressing? We discuss nutrition, glycemic control, vascular disease, so many parts that really education, all of that, that plays all a part in our strive as a team to get your wound healed.

Katie Johnson: Wow. I really like that. Not the hole, the H-O-L-E, but the whole person.

Dawn Grothe, RN...: Right.

Katie Johnson: That's a great slogan. You described some of the wounds. I don't know if there are others you'd want to touch on, but another question that comes to my mind is what is a typical length of time for a treatment of some of these wounds? I imagine that varies.

Dawn Grothe, RN...: It does. And we always wish we had the crystal ball to say exactly how long it's going to be, because we are asked frequently. And I think going back, it depends sometimes on what else is going on. Maybe it's time to get in check as to how are we doing with keeping our blood sugars where they need to be. Maybe we didn't know that we had peripheral arterial disease or venous insufficiency. Maybe it was just something that it happened out on a corral fence, and so there's bacteria there. There's multiple things. And also, where's our nutrition at? Are we getting all the protein we need to build all that we need to do to heal our wounds?

So it's such a multifaceted thing that sometimes when we are able to put all those little pieces in, things move along more quickly than if we're kind of missing pieces of our puzzle. And so, then we kind of have to work to do all of those. So we try to move along as quickly as we can, but also being inspectors and identifying those areas that we need to fill the gap.

Katie Johnson: Yeah. You're doing a little detective work, it sounds like. I'm so fascinated by your mention of nutrition and the role of food as medicine. Is that part of the education process typically in wound care?

Dawn Grothe, RN...: Absolutely. We definitely will discuss that every time. We are able to calculate how much a person is supposed to be getting, not only... It requires more calories to heal a wound, but we want to make sure that those calories are the right calories. Because I go back to the protein is the very, very important part of wound healing. And so, where does our protein needs come from and how much do we need?

And people are always surprised like, "Oh my gosh, I'm really not eating as much protein as I probably need to do to heal." And so, we talk about supplements. And we also, we will include our dieticians in with that, for supplemental education or for glycemic control, that type of thing. So we work with them as well to make sure that people are getting what they need.

Katie Johnson: The registered dieticians here such a treasure of great information, so that's something new I learned. And what an interesting facet to wound care, in terms of the part that nutrition plays. Is it necessary for a person with a wound to be referred to the Wound Care Center by a physician? Or is it something that you can just call directly and set yourself up with a treatment regimen?

Dawn Grothe, RN...: Sure. Actually, surprisingly enough, you do not need a referral to come see us. You can self refer. Many people have just had a neighbor or actually went to the website, the Lake Region Healthcare website, and found that we had wound care and made the phone call.

Once you make the phone call or your physician refers you, or sometimes if you've been seen in the emergency room and they refer, then that will go to our receptionist. And then there is a prior authorization for insurance, but usually moves along pretty quickly and then we can get you scheduled as soon as we can with the appropriate provider to help you.

Katie Johnson: That's great. And it's also great to have those people helping with the prior auth. Right?

Dawn Grothe, RN...: Absolutely.

Katie Johnson: That's a really important step, and we've got great people here to help you with that. How do you know when it's okay to keep trying the things that we try at home to heal a wound or when it's really something that needs some extra medical attention?

Dawn Grothe, RN...: Sure. Many times we always think, "Gosh, sooner would be better than later." But definitely if you have any of those other preexisting conditions, if you're a diabetic, if you know you have vascular disease, if you know that your immune system is a little bit compromised, anything like that, definitely, if you notice something, give us a call and get in as soon as you can.

Other times, if all of a sudden it just doesn't seem to be healing as fast, give us a call. You could always come in. We can always do our evaluation and give recommendations or do a treatment plan and get you onto the right course. So it varies on how long people will, how long we will wait for something to heal. And then when you finally decide, it's like, "Okay, this is just not getting where it needs to be and I'm not really sure why," then come see us.

Katie Johnson: Yeah. If you're in doubt, probably-

Dawn Grothe, RN...: Right. Usually they say if something hasn't healed within two to three weeks, it's time to probably seek treatment.

Katie Johnson: That's a good timeframe. What are some things that people can do if they have a wound that can improve the healing process? Maybe it's not something that they know they don't need to go to a Wound Care Center or have that level. But I've got a wound and we mentioned nutrition. Maybe there are some other things that are just helpful tips for helping a wound heal faster and maybe with less residual marks.

Dawn Grothe, RN...: Exactly, exactly. Well, there are a number of treatments out there. In the very beginning, cleanliness is always our best thing. When you're treating your wound, you got to wash your hands, keep things clean. If you try a few days of a topical antibiotic ointment just over the counter, that's fine. The number one thing with wound healing, and we discuss this all the time with our patients, is smoking. It greatly inhibits our healing because of the basal constriction of that. So the blood flow just can't get to the area that needs the help.

Also, making sure your blood sugars are where they need to be, because if their blood sugars are high, that just reduces our fight for infection. So then that just can lead down a very bad path for a wound. Anything else, if you notice, if you have a history of peripheral vascular disease and you've bumped your toe and it doesn't look good, then you need to come and see us. But those other things of our life, smoking, blood sugars, activity, all of those things are very important as well.

Katie Johnson: Any particular over-the-counter things that are helpful for at-home wound healing?

Dawn Grothe, RN...: Well, it just kind of depends. All the wounds are so different.

Katie Johnson: Sure.

Dawn Grothe, RN...: So generally, many people will just try the triple antibiotic or the Neosporins, that type of thing. And those are okay for just a very short term, but not for long term. And if it doesn't seem to be turning a corner after that first four or five days, then it's probably time to give us a call.

Katie Johnson: So speaking of giving you a call, where are you located? How do people find you and get in touch with you?

Dawn Grothe, RN...: Sure. We are located on the first floor of the hospital side. So when you come in, it's actually the first floor. Not the ground floor, but the first floor. You can reach us at (218) 737-6994. That will get you to our wonderful receptionist, Tammy, and she will get you scheduled from there.

Katie Johnson: Awesome. And she really is wonderful. You'll know from the moment she answers the phone that she is 100% dedicated to helping you navigate your time getting into and through the wound healing process at the Wound Care Center, again in the Fergus Falls Hospital on first floor. And anything else that we're missing? Anything you'd like our listeners to know about wound care or about the team?

Dawn Grothe, RN...: I think the most important thing is to know that it's been our priority from the beginning, that we have created and strive to have a very welcoming family to our Wound Care Center. We see people frequently for long periods of time. They become our family. We are all on the same team. We're all fighting for the same thing. And that has probably been our most important role, is just to create a family atmosphere for people to come and see us.

Katie Johnson: It really is a living example of the person-centered value of Lake Region Healthcare when you see the team in the Wound Care Center at work. So thank you all for what you do, celebrating the wound care team and the difference they're making in people's lives during June, Wound Health Awareness Month. And thanks for the great tips and information on what wound care really is and what a difference good wound care can make in healing and long-term health.

So Dawn Grothe from our Wound Care Center, my guest today on Apple A Day, Dawn and Katie, reminding you that at Lake Region Healthcare, we are here for you always. Have a great day.