Thursday, April 18, 2024

US Wound Care & Hyperbaric Centers gives local man new lease on life

There’s no getting around the fact that Jared Holt is a very large man. At 7-foot-3, 525 pounds, Holt’s size is both a fun conversation starter and an accommodation issue everywhere he goes, so much so that even his men’s barbershop chorus — yes, he’s an accomplished singer in his free time — made a special platform for him to stand on behind their risers so that he could blend in along the back row.

“You can’t tell from the audience, but it’s purposely a foot shorter than the back riser,” Holt said with a laugh. “I call it the bullpen.”

Holt, 38, will happily crack jokes about that experience and similar stories all day. But his nearly two-year battle with a non-healing diabetic foot ulcer on his left foot, a subsequent surgical wound that also wouldn’t heal, and a race against time to find relief or risk amputation has been no laughing matter. Cuts, scrapes, and other minor skin wounds have always been so commonplace that many people don’t give them a second thought. Sure, it hurts. But they put a Band-Aid and ointment on it and trust that it will heal in a few days. But many others have wounds that last weeks and months without showing improvement. And rather than having the luxury of blaming it on a minor injury, the damage is because of an underlying condition such as diabetes, poor circulation, immobility, etc.

What started small is now large and infected, more painful, and not responding to typical treatment. In these cases, the patient’s quality of life is impacted, and they genuinely believe they must manage this for the rest of their lives.

Holt sure felt that way. A former college basketball player, he was diagnosed with diabetes in 2016 and has severe neuropathy in both feet. As a result, he can’t feel that he has an ulcer, blister, or laceration forming until it’s progressed practically beyond repair. When his wound doctors suggested hyperbaric oxygen therapy as a potential missing piece to his healing journey, the sticking point was finding a facility with a hyperbaric chamber large enough to accommodate a man of his size.

After all, the typical chamber is a hardshell, restrictive tube roughly eight feet long and three feet in diameter.

Dr. Amandeep Kaur, Medical Director, and Susan Watson, Sr. VP of Sales and Operations, at
US Wound Care & Hyperbaric Centers in Lewisville.

After nearly a dozen phone calls, US Wound Care & Hyperbaric Centers was the only facility in the area that could help. At the Lewisville location off Valley Parkway, their physicians specialize in preventing and managing chronic and non-healing wounds. This includes hyperbaric oxygen therapy, which stimulates and supports the body’s natural healing processes by providing it with the necessary oxygen to heal. And as it just so happens, their hyperbaric chambers are some of the largest multi-place chambers in the state.

Needless to say, Holt was quick to schedule an appointment — though he admitted he was uncharacteristically skeptical.

“I remember attending my wound care appointment, and they said, ‘Oh, by the way. We found you a hyperbaric place.’ I kept saying, ‘No, you didn’t. There’s no way,’” Holt said. “Even after scheduling the appointment in Lewisville, I expected to show up and hear the typical, ‘Well, we said we could. But after seeing you in person, we can’t.’ I expected them to pull the rug out from under me.”

Instead, Holt walked in to find a hyperbaric oxygen therapy chamber large enough for him and as many as 11 other people to sit or lie down at the same time comfortably. The chamber was also versatile enough to treat anything from diabetic foot ulcers and surgical wounds like Holt’s to burns and radiation wounds, skin tears, and more.

“We operate four clinics, three in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and one in Florida, and all four have multi-place hyperbaric chambers,” said Susan Watson, senior vice president of sales and operations for US Wound Care & Hyperbaric Centers. “You walk in, and it’s like an airplane. Many patients can be treated at once, seated comfortably or lying down. So, when you think of someone like Jared, a traditional mono-place chamber just isn’t big enough. In our centers, due to our higher capacity, patients can get an appointment and begin treatment very quickly.

Holt agreed, adding that it was the missing piece he’d been searching for.

“It was easy. The staff was awesome, and Dr. Amandeep Kaur is phenomenal,” he said. Both of his wounds are completely healed now. “I went Monday through Friday for an hour or so each time, and my size was never an issue. It was always, ‘We’re going to get you better and get this thing closed up.’ And by God, that’s what they did. Does it take time? Absolutely. But it’s worth every minute rather than every minute of hurting with each step you take. I’d happily tell people to make appointments, put the time in, and trust the process. It works.”

Watching successful stories like Holt’s play out is a breath of fresh air for Watson and Dr. Kaur, who constantly look for ways to stem the tide for otherwise sobering statistics related to diabetic patients and amputation. According to Kaur, diabetics like Holt, who don’t receive life-saving treatment for chronic wounds, have an eight times higher risk of amputation than non-diabetics. And one in every two amputees will die within five years of losing a limb.

“It’s a feeling of gratitude that I’m in a field like this where I can touch people’s lives and prolong their lives and save limbs,” Dr. Kaur said. “She has been the Chief Medical Officer for US Wound Care & Hyperbaric Centers since July 2020. “We do see a lot of patients like Jared who are very close to amputation. They’ve had multiple surgeries and infections that haven’t healed through conservative care, and hyperbaric oxygen therapy quickly becomes a great treatment option for them. We want it to be an enjoyable, safe space for them.”

As for his future, Holt said it is as bright as ever.

“I’m still limited in a lot of things I can do right now, but I feel confident that I’ll get back to normalcy soon enough,” he said. “The bottom line is that I know what works now, and that’s huge for me and so many other people.”

To learn more about US Wound Care & Hyperbaric Centers, visit www.us-woundcare.com.

(Sponsored content)

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