Success stories

Keeping both feet on the ground: Scott Coffman's story

Practical people, like Camas resident Scott Coffman, like to approach life with their feet firmly planted on the ground. A lifelong Clark County resident, EMT, volunteer firefighter and in-home health caregiver, Scott has never let diabetes slow down his busy life. So when a diabetic ulcer on his foot got worse earlier this year, Scott knew he needed to take action.

Suddenly, keeping both feet on the ground had literally become a matter of life and health. After taking one of his clients to the Wound Healing Center at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center, Scott decided to talk to the staff about his own situation.

"Scott had an extremely serious wound from the top of his foot to the bone. He could have faced foot amputation or below-the-knee amputation," explains Stephen Hayes, DPM, CWS, FACCWS. "Fortunately, we have various tools and techniques in our arsenal to heal patients and save limbs. These can range from special wraps, dressings and organic skin substitutes to common-sense recommendations for comfortable shoes and wound care at home."

Between March and July, Scott had weekly treatments with debridement and hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBO), as well as daily infusions of antibiotics. Debridement is a procedure to remove dead or damaged tissue. HBO is a process that increases the amount of oxygen in the patient's blood, helping wounds to heal from the inside out.

"Wound healing treatments are covered by insurance," says Dr. Hayes, who is a board certified wound specialist as well as a podiatric physician and surgeon. "Patients don't have to be admitted to the hospital. They don't have to face multiple surgical procedures. They can rest in their own bed at home."

"It's a good feeling to be able to deal with things from home. I knew the doctor was right when he said not to overdo it," agrees Scott. "The people here were extremely knowledgeable and caring. It was not like, 'I'll hand you a dollar bill and call it good.'"

"Scott had lots of questions, which we like," says staff nurse Caroline O'Brien, CDU. "We always take a team approach. Scott would come for wound treatments here, and then he could see Dr. Michael Barsotti for his diabetes appointments."

"Every wound, every patient is different," Dr. Hayes comments. "So we often look beyond routine treatments for alternatives. The cost of amputation is so high, not just the dollars but the physical and emotional cost. We encourage our patients to hang in there. We are proud of patients like Scott, who had a deep wound and knew it was serious, and now he is healed. It's so rewarding to go to work every day and know we can make a difference. We say, 'Game on! Let's give these patients their life back.'"