Wound Care Success Story
Dennis Fasekas, 50, of Duncansville, enjoys amusement park rides, hiking and camping — which is a big deal for someone who once weighed more than 600 pounds and suffered from a debilitating leg ulcer.
In the fall of 1998, Dennis reached his peak weight of 635 pounds. He could no longer work. He had high blood pressure and sleep apnea, a condition where you stop breathing for short periods during sleep. To make matters worse, the open, oozing wound on his lower left leg was not responding to any of his home remedies.
"This wound would drain so much that my sweat pants would be soaked by the end of the day," Dennis recalled. Little did he know that the compassionate care he'd receive at the Wound Care and Ostomy Program would literally heal all facets of his life — physical, emotional and spiritual.
"If it weren't for this wonderful department, I wouldn't be where I am today. I may not even be living. I thank God for bringing me to them," said Dennis, his voice cracking with emotion.
A key to the program's success is the dedication of its nursing staff and the fact that the same nurse sees a patient every time he or she visits, according to Administrative Director Ellen Schraff, a registered nurse and certified wound specialist.
"Primary nursing care continues to play a large part in the successful treatment of our patients," she said. "We have recognized this as the best way to meet both physical and emotional needs in our commitment to provide holistic care. And if it becomes necessary to admit a patient to the hospital, they are seen by the same wound care staff."
Amy Swires, R.N., was Dennis' primary nurse. "It was amazing to watch the (psychological) changes in him," she related. "He became more outgoing, and more of his personality emerged as we cared for him and he lost weight."
With the wound clinic staff's support and encouragement, Dennis lost 123 pounds. His other health problems resolved as the weight came off. His treatment team also included physical therapist Amy Flick, who specializes in lymphedema treatment, and medical doctors Neil Kaneshiki and Shuba Maitra, who specialize in wound care.
"I can't say enough positive things about Drs. Kaneshiki and Maitra," Dennis said. "They are honest and up-front, and I like that in a doctor."
After Dennis was discharged from the program, he made sure to stay in touch with the staff.
"They are like family to me," he said. "I miss them. So I still keep in touch and stop in to say hello."
After the healing of his wound and his initial weight loss, Dennis had surgery to remove 40 pounds of excess abdominal skin that was hindering his movement. In 2005, he had gastric bypass surgery and has lost an additional 200 pounds.
Today, he works as an office manager in a physical therapy practice in State College — for Lemont Physical Therapy, a practice owned by his former physical therapist.
"It's like being reborn," he said. "It really is."
"I believe the staff saved my leg. Dr. Maitra and the rest of the staff are truly incredible. The treatment I received was exceptional, and the quality of care I received cannot be matched anywhere else. The staff definitely left an impression on me."
— Alicia M. Brown, Virginia Beach, VA, traveled to Altoona to receive treatment
"They cared about me. It's like a family, and they treat you like you are the only patient they have."
—Polly Boore, Tyrone RR2
"If I had questions, they answered them. A lot of times, even before I could ask a question, they answered them because they would explain things before they did them."
— Rocco DelBaggio, Tyrone