Keep up to date on the COVID-19 vaccine schedule at the Health System. Read More
Use these fields to start your search.
April 4, 2022 – Rickey Baker enjoyed a full life as an operator for St. Marys Public Works for fifteen years. He worked on his feet all day, cleaning and clearing street signs and performing collection to clear roadways, until he woke up one morning with a swollen, red foot. For several months, he laid in bed as the infection in his foot drained and eventually healed, but a week following his return to work, he developed a blister.
“When I revisited the foot specialist, he said that if I didn’t get off my feet, I could lose my foot,” says Baker.
Baker spent several months on a wound VAC (vacuum-assisted closure), a device designed to decrease air pressure in the wound and assist in its healing. While beneficial in certain wound care and post-operative cases, Baker found the wound VAC to be cumbersome, and it made performing his daily routine impossible. After several months of this treatment, the wound unfortunately remained unhealed.
“After so many months, I still couldn’t work. I couldn’t walk or drive or do anything on my own. I’d completely lost my independence,” says Baker. “When my home health nurse recommended Dr. Long, I decided to visit the Wound Care Center.”
Southeast Georgia Health System was able to build a Wound Care Center at its Camden Campus thanks to funds generated through the Georgia HEART (Helping Enhance Access to Rural Treatment) program. Georgia is the only state that allows its residents to redirect their state tax dollars to benefit rural hospitals. The Camden Campus has qualified for the program for the last three years and has used the funds to help open a Wound Care Center and purchase innovative technologies, including the ROSA (RObotic Surgical Assistant) knee replacement system and life-saving 3D Mammography.
Board-certified emergency medicine specialist, John Earl Long, M.D., and Kimberly Thomas, R.N., are two of the wound care specialists at the Health System’s Wound Care Center in St. Marys. They studied Baker’s condition as a whole, not just the wound, when deciding on his treatment plan.
“We examined the skin around the wound, his nutrition level, and whether he had other co-morbidities, such as diabetes, that could factor into the condition of his chronic non-healing wound,” says Thomas. “Weekly, we monitored the wound and its progression, changed his dressings and educated him on how he could replicate our efforts at home. Most importantly, as the wound healed, we adjusted his treatment plan to best serve the needs of the wound at that time.”
After only four months of treatment at the Wound Care Center, Baker’s wound healed, and his life returned to normal.
“Dr. Long and his team are wonderful. They explained everything to me before performing treatment, which was very comforting. And best of all, I can walk again!” says Baker. “I’d lost all feeling in my foot, but now, I can feel again. I actually know when I have socks and shoes on.”
He adds, “Between God, Dr. Long, and the entire Wound Care Center team, I healed, and I can finally do everything that I couldn’t do only a few months ago. I’m back to normal.”
If you’re suffering from a chronic, non-healing wound, schedule an appointment at the Wound Care Center by calling:
Georgia residents who wish to redirect their state tax dollars to benefit Southeast Georgia Health System Camden Campus may do so by completing and submitting a three-minute online form. Georgians are required to pay state taxes anyway; the Georgia HEART Hospital Program ensures that tax dollars are working to improve health care services in St. Marys for you, your loved ones and neighbors. To learn more, visit sghs.org/ga-heart.