The Continuum of Wound Care
By Terri Kolenich, RN, CWCA, AAPWCA
Have you ever confronted yourself with thoughts of how your role plays into the grand scheme of wound care? I am sure any wound nurse or physician would quickly answer "of course!" – since the role of a direct caregiver is so blaringly obvious.
What about behind-the-scenes people contributing to the care of the wounded patient? Consider the roles of the central supply order staff, the DME supplier, the case manager, or even the clinical liaison… All working behind the curtain to care for the wounded patient. In wound care, we are all parts of a continuum of care, serving one greater purpose: healing the wounded patient.
Behind the Scenes of Wound Care
You may not be on the front lines, but your role is crucial nonetheless. Direct caregivers, educators, and trainers must highlight how essential each of the behind-the-scenes players is, and point out the importance to each one of them regularly. This is because it is more difficult to connect with the altruistic nature of your role when it is outside of direct care. Each role is part of the whole picture of healing, whether it is the role of central supplier, case manager, social worker, transport driver, MDS coordinator, or endless others.
This month's blog post comes from a personal struggle to connect to the altruistic nature of a new role I have taken on in the health care continuum. I recently transitioned into the role of a Clinical Liaison with Select Specialty Long-term Acute Care Hospitals. When I first took on this role, I felt far away from my wound care roots as a nurse. I felt as if, all of a sudden, I had abandoned the wounded patient by closing off access to my expertise as a well versed, experienced wound nurse.
In my new role, I am tasked with connecting the very sick patient with the most appropriate level of care to meet their needs. I am great at overcoming the obstacles of the health care system to meet this goal, but am I utilizing my knowledge as a wound care professional?
These were questions I asked myself throughout each day that is, until I was referred to help navigate the health care system for a particular patient. This patient was in the ICU with chronic recalcitrant stage 3 and 4 pressure injuries, along with vascular wounds and moisture-associated skin damage. Initially admitted for other complications of COPD and pneumonia, this patient was very sick. Once stabilized, she was still too ill to return to her home setting with home health. This is the point at which I was called upon to help this patient get the right level of care to meet her needs.
Finding Your Place in the Wound Care Continuum
While navigating the different aspects of the health care system for this patient, I began to feel reconnected to my wound care roots. I was able to use my knowledge of wound care to justify her need for a higher level of care along the health care continuum. It was then that I reconnected to the fact that I play a part in the care of the wounded patient. It hit me how easy it is to forget the way each of us is connected in the continuum of care.
I took a step back and looked around, and realized that so many people behind the scenes are playing a part—and not even realizing how important they are to the whole.
Are you in a rut, feeling far from the path of caring for the wounded patient? Do you realize how important you are as the nursing assistant that measures the calves of the patient in need of compression stockings? Do you realize what a major part you play when you are teaching and encouraging the patient with a new stoma?
Has it occurred to you that, when you order the correct supplies and keep cost down, it allows your facility to care for even more patients? Please consider these questions and consider the importance of your role in caring for the wounded patient. You are part of the continuum of healing, whether you recognize it or not!
Merriam Webster Dictionary defines continuum as: “a range or series of things that are slightly different from each other and that exist between two different possibilities”
Although our roles are slightly different, we all function between those varying possible outcomes for our patients. Whatever your role may be, it is important.
About the Author
Terri Kolenich, RN, CWCA, AAPWCA is the clinical liaison at Select Medical Specialty Hospitals. Terri has extensive experience in long term care as a Wound Care Nurse and Program Manager. She is passionate about wound care education and has over nine years experience assessing, managing, and documenting wounds. Terri is also well versed in MDS 3.0. Her knowledge coupled with her skill as a public speaker, make her an effective wound care educator.
The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author, and do not represent the views of WoundSource, Kestrel Health Information, Inc., its affiliates, or subsidiary companies.