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 - Main Hospital
 
 - Main Hospital

Caring for the Whole: The Dorothy Blackwell Wound Care and Hyperbaric Clinic Celebrates 15th Anniversary 

Nurse Shelby Wright with patient Mick Lee

There’s a lot Shelby Wright loves about her job. She’s an educator, caregiver, encourager, straight-shooter and listener in her role as an advanced practice registered nurse at Stillwater Medical Center. Since 2017, she’s been an essential part of the care team at the Dorothy Blackwell Wound Care and Hyperbaric Clinic.

“I had a lot of diverse experiences when we lived in Texas, but I really liked wound care,” Wright said. “We do so much more than address the skin. You have to look at everything that’s going on with the patient and get to the root of the issue.” 

Shelby works with a team of 11 care professionals treating those struggling with wounds in Stillwater and the surrounding areas. She says educating her patients, fellow care professionals and the community is a large part of her job. 

“I’d never heard of wound care before I fell on May 18 of 2023,” said Mickael “Mick” Lee, a Stillwater resident and PROFESSION. “It was Shelby who told me it was a severe hematoma, and we were going to get to know each other really well over the next few months. I had no idea it would take so long.” 

Because of where Lee was injured on his knee and the severity of it, he was in danger of losing his leg. He began with daily appointments at the wound care clinic and spent eight months under Wright’s care. During that time, he visited his primary care physician, Dr. Garrick Shreck, who kept an eye on his progress. 

“I’ll never forget what Dr. Shreck said to me,” Lee said. “He told me, ‘I’m gonna tell you something; Shelby Wright saved your leg. But, Mick, some could argue that she saved your life.’” 

Over the months of treatment the two formed a special bond. They talked about their families, their faith and their passions. For Wright, this is an essential part of the healing process. 

“My philosophy is to first and foremost love them for who they are. By building that relationship we’re able to get to the root of the underlying issue that’s causing that wound and create behavioral change,” Wright said.  

According to Wright wounds are rarely a diagnosis. They are a symptom of a greater condition. June is Wound Healing Awareness Month, established in 2014 to educate Americans about the nearly seven million people living in this country with chronic or unhealed wounds. Many of these wounds are caused by chronic conditions and diseases like diabetes. 

“The effects of diabetes on the human body is severely underestimated by the general population,” Wright said. “In wound care, diabetic foot ulcers are prevalent. I cannot overstate the importance of foot care.”

This is something Richard Roach has experienced first-hand. Roach served the U.S. Army as a Green Beret in the Vietnam War. After being hit by two grenades in combat, he spent the next nine months in a hospital, ending his military career. He deals with the impact of those injuries and exposure to Agent Orange on a daily basis. He’s been living with diabetes for nearly 20 years. 

“I’ve had Charcot foot ulcers on the bottom of my foot off and on for years now. I’ve adapted to it but, the bad part is, if I’m getting a blister, I don’t feel it because of the neuropathy,” Roach said. 

Roach has become a regular at the wound care clinic, getting to know Wright and the other care providers. 

“I really wish people knew how good they are,” Roach said. “We have a good time laughing and carrying on. You’ve gotta have a little fun to get through the times when you’re in the middle of it. It takes six to seven months to heal. During that time, you get to know each other pretty well.”

Long-term patient care is one of the many things that appealed to Wright about wound care. After providing in-patient, acute care at the start of her career, she transferred to home health, which opened her eyes to the relationship that forms between patients and long-term caregivers.

“A lot of times the people we see in wound care may not have the resources or support they need. Those are my people,” Wright said. “Being there for them and dealing with every piece of the journey to healing is my passion.” 

This month is the 15th anniversary of the Dorothy Blackwell Wound Care and Hyperbaric Clinic. Wright says she’s grateful to Dorothy Blackwell who funded the clinic through her estate and enjoys meeting patients who knew her personally. Blackwell, who passed away in 2004, gave annually to the Stillwater Medical Foundation and was an avid volunteer. Today her memory lives on through the only clinic named for an individual at Stillwater Medical Center. 

According to Lee, Stillwater is fortunate to have a dedicated team addressing wound care. 

“Had I not moved to Stillwater three years ago and this happened, I don’t know what I would have done,” Lee said. “I work three days a week in Enid and Guthrie, and I know there are so many places in our state that have nothing to compare to what Shelby offers that wound clinic.” 

As the population ages, healthcare providers anticipate the need for wound care to increase, making awareness vital. Lack of awareness leads to fewer screenings, limited interventions and wounds that can progress to severe complications or even amputation.

“What we’re trying to prevent is loss of limb or loss of life. That takes coordination of care,” Wright said. “There’s less than eight hours of dedicated training in medical and nursing schools for wound care. That’s one of the challenges.”

Early intervention from a knowledgeable provider is a key component to successful outcomes. Those struggling with chronic or unhealed wounds can call the clinic at 405-372-1480 or visit https://www.stillwater-medical.org/locations/dorothy-blackwell-wound-care-and-hyperbaric-clinic to learn more.

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