Starting Friday, North Lawndale residents and other West Siders will be able to get treatment for harder-to-heal wounds in their own community.
Sinai Health System's Center for Advanced Wound Healing opened at its flagship hospital, Mt. Sinai Hospital, 1500 S. Fairfield Ave. in North Lawndale, at 10 a.m. on Nov. 20.
Sinai Health System officials, as well as members of the North Lawndale Community Coordinating Council's Health and Wellness Committee, touted the center as a welcome asset to the West Side.
The center is the second of its kind recently opened by Sinai Health System. The first Center for Advanced Wound Healing opened in October on the third floor of Holy Cross Hospital, 2701 W. 68th St., in the Marquette Park neighborhood.
During a meeting on Nov. 17, of the North Lawndale Community Coordinating Council's Health and Wellness Committee, Bradley Riesteter, the center's program director, said that the center will treat hard-to-heal wounds resulting from a variety of conditions, including diabetes, obesity and chronic illness. They can also result from flawed skin grafts and infections, he said.
According to a Sinai Health System press release, the system decided to launch the wound centers because, according to its own research, the conditions that cause hard-to-heal wounds are more prevalent in the communities it serves.
If left untreated, those wounds can hurt patients' quality of life and may worsen, leading to conditions like amputated limbs.
In his presentation, Riesteter also pointed to the general disparity in access to health care in South and West sides.
"It's exciting that we can offer wound care," he said. "It's not something that has been offered to communities on the South Side, and that's something that's really needed."
Riesteter said he was particularly proud that the center will offer Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy, where a patient is placed in a large tube filled with pure oxygen to help blood vessels and tissues grow. Each treatment, he explained, lasts two hours, with sessions typically happening five days a week over the course of at least eight weeks.
"We're excited to be able to offer that," Riesteter said. "It's not something every hospital system is able to offer and there are only a couple of hospitals in Chicago that offer hyperbaric."
According to a program description forwarded to the committee members, the center will also offer Negative Pressure Wound Therapy, which draws fluid from the body to stimulate blood flow, as well as an array of bacterial treatments and advanced wound dressings.
When asked whether the patients needed to have insurance to take advantage of the center's services, Riesteter said that Sinai Health System will work with uninsured patients.
"We'll take a look at the Sinai program for charity care, if they qualify for that," he said. "We want to work with patients, so they receive care."
Debra Wesley, the Health and Wellness committee chair and the head of Sinai Health System's Sinai Community Institute, welcomed the wound center as a much-needed resource.
"Our community needs more than other communities, so we gotta have the best, top of the line care in our community, because, unfortunately, so many of us are vulnerable," she said.
Sinai Health System spokesperson Dan Regan said that the Holy Cross center has had 33 patients so far, and the health system expects around 12 to 18 patients a week.
Due to the rising COVID-19 positivity and hospitalization rates, they decided to forgo a grand opening, but he expects that many patients will come through referrals and they plan to do their own outreach to get the word out.
Regan said that the center will follow the same COVID-19 safety protocols as all of the system's medical facilities, including requiring face masks for patients and doctors, as well as face shields and other personal protection equipment for the staff.
"Our intention is to keep the care center open [during the pandemic]," Regan said. "There will be some tele-health where appropriate, but it will remain open, following the restrictions and provisions that the whole system is following."
For more information about the Center for Advanced Wound Healing, call (773) 57-HEAL (4325).
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