The Pinnacle of Wound Care
It would be an understatement to say that Neal Attfield enjoys scaling new heights. In May 2017, Neal, 51, and members of his climbing club scaled Alaska’s Denali, formerly called Mt. McKinley. As the highest mountain peak in North America with a summit elevation of 20,310 feet above sea level, this was no small accomplishment, especially since time was of the essence.
“We were running out of food but took the gamble and made a push for the summit,” Neal, a Washington, DC, resident who works for a large consulting firm, recalls. “On an especially windy, cold day, around 40 degrees below zero, we climbed for 16 hours through about a foot of newly fallen snow.”
Neal and a friend made it, an experience he describes as “amazing.” A week or so after returning home, however, Neal realized that the toes on his left foot didn’t look right. It became evident he needed medical attention, and a friend recommended the Dorothea R. Fisher Wound Healing Center at Inova Mount Vernon Hospital. “That’s when I met Dr. Yoon and learned that I had suffered pretty bad frostbite on one foot,” Neal explains.
A Healing, Limb-Saving Strategy for Frostbite
After making a thorough examination, Joonhyun Yoon, DPM, diagnosed third-degree frostbite on several of Neal’s toes. Dr. Yoon cleaned the wounds and recommended consistent weekly monitoring moving forward.
During one particular follow-up visit, Dr. Yoon noticed what appeared to be deep-tissue injuries with early gangrene developing on several of Neal’s toes. Gangrene is a serious condition when tissue begins to die, either because of poor blood circulation or a bacterial infection. Dr. Yoon immediately prescribed a course of antibiotics for Neal. Additionally, advanced wound care products were used to deter further infection, and weekly monitoring continued.
“Neal is a young, healthy guy with good circulation, so I did not feel we needed to take dramatic measures. In my professional estimation, I still believed his body would heal from within,” Dr. Yoon recalls. “Of course, we saw Neal weekly, and I knew we could act quickly if matters became more serious.”
With time and care, Neal did heal. “Dr. Yoon and the wound care team saved all my toes — except the very tip of my left big toe,” he says. “Their deep knowledge of wounds allowed us to wait out the natural healing process. If I had relied on a less experienced medical team, I probably would have gone in for a very dramatic but ultimately unnecessary amputation.”
Amputation and Gangrene Avoided with Expert Diagnosis and Treatment
As the Washington, DC, area’s first specialized resource for treatment of complex sores and non-healing wounds, Inova Wound Healing Centers’ physicians and certified clinical staff offer recognized experience in state-of-the-art treatment options and advanced technologies. They treat a range of conditions including ulcers associated with diabetes; non-healing surgical wounds; venous ulcers; pressure ulcers; and wounds related to metabolic diseases, such as Crohn’s disease.
“I think a clinician’s medical experience is critical when treating a complicated wound,” Dr. Yoon stresses. “Things can look very bad and seem to need immediate surgery or hospitalization. But, that’s not always the case. That’s why we provide every patient highly individualized care.”
New Wound Healing Doctor at Inova: David Charash, DO
The Inova Wound Healing Center at Inova Mount Vernon Hospital welcomes a new Medical Director of Wound Care, David Charash, DO. Dr. Charash is a board-certified physician in Undersea and Hyperbaric Medicine and Emergency Medicine.
“The Inova leadership team is set to grow the wound care program. It’s an exciting mind-set, and I look forward to advancing this mission,” says Dr. Charash.
The Inova Wound Healing Centers are the region’s most experienced, with physicians and a certified clinical staff providing the latest treatments and technologies. These include hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBO), negative wound pressure therapy, and artificial skin grafts that are bioengineered human skin substitutes. HBO is a medical treatment that entails increasing oxygen flow under pressure to body tissue and is used to promote wound healing and treat other conditions.
Dr. Charash comes to the Inova wound center from the Western Connecticut Health Network, where he served as Medical Director at the New Milford and Danbury hospitals’ wound centers. Dr. Charash completed medical school at the New York College of Osteopathic Medicine and attended the Henry Ford Hospital for his residency in emergency medicine. It was during his residency in emergency medicine that he received training in HBO.
“A vital part of growing this program involves me getting out there and engaging with our community — both its residents and healthcare providers. Everyone needs to understand the benefits of an experienced wound care and hyperbaric medicine program,” Dr. Charash explains. “The goal is to build a continuum of care so a patient’s non-healing wound is recognized as early as possible and therefore avoid a significant change in health status. I am excited to be part of Inova’s commitment to a world-class wound healing program.”
Wound Care Expertise for Northern Virginia and Washington, DC
The Inova Wound Healing Centers offer the area’s largest, most experienced team in treating difficult to heal wounds. Visit our website to learn more about all of Inova’s wound healing locations (Mount Vernon, Fair Oaks, and Fairfax/Woodburn). You can also call us at 703-664-8020.