Wound Care Articles and Insights
February 2, 2022

How a Dumpster Inspired a Wound Center Revolution

Mike Comer

About 25 years ago I was hired to assist a wound center in Sherman Oaks as it moved away from its management company, Curative. It was one of the first instances of a hospital insourcing their wound center and canceling their management contract. To say that the process was contentious would be a gross understatement. On my first day, two program directors from other local wound centers run by Curative, showed up at the facility to take everything that belonged to the company. 

When they arrived, it was clear their directive was to make the separation as painful as possible. They told the nurses, physicians, even the front desk person, that we would never be able to run the center on our own. They also told hospital leadership that they could no longer call themselves a wound care center since they had trademarked that term.

Every single item was destined for a dumpster to ensure it was destroyed

The directors took a big cardboard box and started throwing everything in it: equipment, policy and procedure manuals, posters, mugs, anything that had a logo on it. Every single item was destined for a dumpster to ensure it was destroyed. Once it was filled, they would cart that box to a vehicle downstairs. It took hours for these two ladies to throw away truckloads of unused postcards and marketing materials, refusing help from any of our team members during the whole process.

It was clear that they wanted to make a spectacle, they wanted each of us to feel the pain of separation. They wanted us to see tools, resources, and the company, going away. They wanted each member of the team to know the policies and procedures they had come to rely on were in a dumpster somewhere. They wanted the hospital to regret their decision.

The hospital didn’t. 

We were back to treating patients the next day, and in the months that followed, we were able to rebuild the program and run it successfully. We implemented the first EMR system the hospital ever used. We changed our “days-to-healing” target from 16 weeks to 8, successfully reducing the average time it took to heal a patient by half thanks in large part to Dr. Stanley Cowen, the Medical Director. Within six months, we were seeing record numbers of patients and the hospital was saving literally hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The downside was that we had to learn everything from the ground up, which took a lot of time and effort. It was not easy. I found myself wishing I had a magic 8-ball that I could shake, ask a question and it would give me the answer. I wanted experts to reach out to that could guide me with some of the questions we had, to tell me what needed to be done next. I fantasized about a “magic dashboard” that could tell me how our program was operating and where I needed to put my attention. I wanted an easier way to manage referring partners and find physicians that needed our services.

During that time, I realized that every hospital is able to run its own wound center. They just need the support and tools to do it.

What was needed wasn’t an evolution of the model, instead hospitals needed a revolution to the way wound centers were operated.

So when I founded Wound Care Advantage 20 years ago, that was the focus. Allow hospitals to manage wound centers on their own by creating a support network they can utilize to stay on track so they can focus on healing patients while keeping costs down for hospitals.

A support network allows hospitals to compare their clinical and operational statistics to other centers across the country, sharing best practices and bringing them out of the isolation of being alone. It provides feedback on documentation to ensure centers are capturing every dollar of reimbursement. It provides on-call experts to consult with for daily operations and a nationwide cadre of wound-centric colleagues to bounce ideas off of. Tools developed specifically for wound centers are available 24 hours a day, reducing time and providing the “magic 8 ball” I always hoped for.

If a wound center can't be profitable, if it can't break even, then at some point it's going to close.

When that happens, more and more people will suffer needless amputations, and these limb-saving, life-saving therapies will disappear from communities that need them most.

Our job is to make sure those centers stay open. Not just for now, but for the next generation of patients. And that’s what the WCA network was designed to do. Ensure the longevity of every wound center across the country. Lower the cost of operation, improve the outcomes of patients, and make life easier for the wound center teams that treat them.

If you’re interested in what The WCA Network can do for you, let’s have a conversation:

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