When asked about her job, Kim Lee says that wound care is not the most glamorous job in medicine but it’s a task she joyfully assumes. Every time she saves a patient from an amputation, it is a cause for celebration.
Lee encountered just such a patient in January 2017.
According to Yvette Mier, a co-worker of Lee who submitted Lee’s nomination, the patient was, “one of our forgotten veterans.”
The patient, who asked to remain anonymous came to the wound center with a limb-threatening diabetic foot ulcer to his left heel. He also had exacerbated bilateral lower leg lymphedema that had gone untreated for more than 20 years. And sadly, the weeping wound was malodorous causing many people to shun the patient believing he had poor hygiene habits rather than a legitimate medical issue.
Mier says, “Kim has a real heart and passion for wounds complicated by lymphedema. The bigger the leg and the higher the stakes, the more Kim steps up to the challenge! I do mean that literally, Kim takes care of legs that weigh upwards of 100lbs or more.”
One of the major issues with lymphedema is that wounds heal by contraction; contraction cannot occur when the legs are grossly swollen.
Lee made a handshake agreement with her patient. If he would do the work necessary to heal the wound and save his leg, she would do everything in her power to make that happen.
Over a 5 month period with visits twice a week, the lymphedema symptoms started going away. The dead skin started to literally fall away and after 6 months of therapy the patient’s limb was saved. The ulcer was closed and the lymphedema was under control.
Mier says, “This patient has been discharged from the wound center and his legs are beautiful! Most importantly, he still has them.”
Lee says, “I am surprised, honored and grateful to be nominated for this award.” However, she points out that more importantly, this nomination brings attention to the field of wound care and how proper treatment can truly change the quality of life for patients.
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