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The Power to Heal

May 25, 2021

Spending time with his wife, family and friends is one of Jacob Hearld’s greatest joys. The 25-year-old, Pulaski County resident is committed to caring for and being with his family and friends as much as possible. However, it wasn’t long ago that Jacob’s health prevented him from spending this cherished time with the people he loves the most.

In August 2020, Jacob was hospitalized at Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital for three weeks because he was septic, severely dehydrated and his kidneys were shutting down. His care team and surgeon, Dr. Michael Citak were able to pinpoint the cause of his illness as diverticulitis. Diverticulitis is the infection or inflammation of pouches, called diverticula, that form inside the intestines. The pouches generally are not harmful; however, diverticulitis can be severe, potentially causing massive infection or perforation of the bowel. In Jacob’s case, surgery would have to be performed on three perforations inside his sigmoid colon.  

“Unfortunately, my surgery was unsuccessful because my colon was too inflamed,” described Jacob. “I had to have an ileostomy in place above my wound that would last for 6 to 8 months.”

An ileostomy would involve the removing of the infected segment of Jacob’s colon. The surgeon creates a temporary hole in the abdomen for waste to pass through, using a piece of small intestine. The passageway is called a stoma.

Life Changing Care

“I began going to the Wound Care Center in September 2020,” said Jacob. “I was referred there for my ileostomy and open wound treatment using the wound vac method to close up the stoma.”  

“There are traumatic wounds, surgical wounds, infected wounds, pressure wounds and many other types of wounds that often require surgical debridement and wound management,” explains Dr. Michael Citak. “From a surgeon’s perspective, when you have contaminated wounds – in the case of someone who has a perforated colon, for example, there may be some bacteria remaining after surgery – and a surgeon cannot safely close the skin incision because of the potential risk of infection. However, these types of wounds can respond very well to wound therapy.” 

In Jacob’s case, wound vacuum-assisted closure (VAC) was used as a method of decreasing air pressure around the wound to assist with the healing process. It’s also referred to as negative pressure wound therapy. During wound VAC procedures, a foam bandage is applied over an open wound and a vacuum pump creates the negative pressure around the wound.

“It becomes a partnership between the surgeon and the Wound Care Center to effectively manage the care of wounds post-surgery and allow for full recovery,” describes Dr. Citak. “The Wound Care Center offers a level of expertise involving wound treatment that most physicians don’t necessarily have. There are constantly new products, topical treatments and therapies coming out all the time that can promote and expedite wound healing. Our staff at the Wound Care Center has the appropriate experience and knowledge and can dedicate the time and resources needed to utilize these therapies and treat patient wounds in the most effective way possible.”

The Lake Cumberland Wound Care Center and Hyperbaric Medicine specializes in advanced wound care, using a variety of clinical treatments, therapies and support services to treat wounds.  Located conveniently near Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital, the staff works closely with the patient’s physicians and medical team to create individualized plans for wounds arising from conditions like diabetes, circulatory problems, immobility, pressure, trauma and other diseases.  Often, Wound Care Center patients benefit from quicker recovery, decreased hospitalization and prevention of prolonged or permanent disability.

 “My wife and I made the decision to do wound care so that I wouldn’t have to be in a long-term care facility,” shares Jacob. “I’m really glad we made that decision because my experience at the Wound Care Center has been amazing. The staff is always helpful and comforting and I’m always greeted with pleasant, smiling faces. Plus, it’s great that I can get this treatment so close to home!”

Jacob Hearld quote

“Jacob had already been through a lot medically when we first met in the outpatient wound care center,” said Dr. Rachel Shelton, Medical Director of Lake Cumberland’s Wound Care Center. “He had a large surgical wound and needed physical and mental healing. It is not uncommon for wound care patients to have a wound as a result of a life altering event. At Lake Cumberland Wound Care Center and Hyperbaric Medicine, the whole team recognizes the importance of treating the patient as a whole, rather than just a wound on part of the body.”

Jacob’s medical condition has been life changing for him and his wife, Courtney. Jacob had to rely on Courtney for many things, including at home wound care, and other tasks he was unable to do after his illness.

“The experience has been difficult and has been a huge adjustment for both my wife and I,” said Jacob. “But she has been the biggest help. She had to do all the ileostomy appliance and open wound changes in between my doctor’s visits. I wouldn’t have gotten through it without her.”

On March 15, 2021, Jacob traveled to UK for a successful reversal surgery, which involved removing the stoma and reconnecting his intestines. Though the reversal surgery was a success, Jacob still has healing to do and The Wound Care Center continues to play a critical role in this process.

“The Wound Care Center really does provide the best care,” exclaimed Jacob. “I would like to thank Monica Hutchison, Dr. Rachel Shelton and everyone else that is involved in my case for taking such great care of me.”

Jacob Hearld & Dr. Rachel Shelton

Keeping the Faith

These days Jacob is still in the process of healing. Initially he was visiting the Center for treatment three times per week, but now he only attends once per week. He has made significant progress over the last eight months and his wound is projected to be fully healed by summer 2021, meaning Jacob will be able to go back to work full time. Jacob is thankful to be nearing the end of his healing journey and knows eight months ago, the outcome did not look as promising. However, Jacob has kept faith and hope alive and recommends anyone else suffering through a similar situation to do the same.

“As Jacob healed physically, we could also see him becoming mentally stronger,” said Dr. Shelton. “Once he realized that his wound was healing and that it could be made better and managed, his whole demeanor changed. That is what makes wound care so amazing to me.”

“I would say that this has been an extremely rough experience to go through, but you must keep the faith,” said Jacob. “Faith, along with my wife has gotten me through it.”  

Jacob is looking forward to a return to some normalcy this summer after his wound has fully healed.

“My favorite thing to do with my wife is go out on Lake Cumberland on the pontoon with all of our family. We also enjoy going on dates and eating out at our favorite restaurants! I’m really looking forward to all of that,” said Jacob. “I’m also looking forward to returning to work as a delivery parts driver at our local AutoZone. It will feel good to be back working and traveling again.”

Lake Cumberland’s Wound Care Center offers a physician-driven, multi-disciplinary approach to outpatient wound care and has a superior success rate in facilitating the healing process.  To learn more, visit LakeCumberlandHospital.com/wound-care.

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