Dr. Braunagel and the Wound Care team know compliance relies on a good patient experience
Wound care patients tend to make friends at their appointments. That’s no accident. Treating wounds takes time – and many appointments. Timothy Nally of Dennis said the CCHC Wound Care team make him feel welcome every time he visits and that he’d rather see Dr. Shawn Braunagel than nearly anyone.
“We built a bit of a relationship,” Nally said. “We have our little talk and you don’t realize he’s working.”
Nally said Braunagel’s energy and upbeat demeanor put him at ease for treatment of his diabetic foot wounds; treatment he had postponed for far too long.
“Initially, when I found that first wound on my right foot, I didn’t get it checked because of COVID-19. Over the summer, it hadn’t healed,” he said. “It was looking kind of ugly and it was my primary care doctor who referred me to Dr. Braunagel.”
Braunagel said that Nally’s journey is a common one for diabetic patients who develop wounds.
“There’s a huge compliance issue with treatment of diabetic foot ulcers,” Braunagel said. “Lots of times, it’s a traumatic, pressure-induced wound. Over time it develops an ulcer.”
“They don’t happen overnight and there’s a progression. (The patient) doesn’t realize how bad it is.”
Because these wounds develop where a diabetic patient may have neuropathy, they may not feel significant pain and are surprised to learn the extent of their injury. Braunagel said this is where the physician/patient relationship can help persuade someone to start a treatment regimen.
“You’ve got to find something in common with every patient you see. The thing about wound care is things don’t heal in a week,” he said. “Sometimes we’re talking about months of treatment. When you see patient on a weekly basis, you learn about their kids and what they do for a living. It makes it interesting.”
Building that rapport is also important when admitted patients need a wound care consultation. Braunagel, who consults with patients at both Cape Cod Hospital and Falmouth Hospital, said it’s important to intervene when wounds are in danger of not healing adequately and encourage a course of treatment on an outpatient basis.
“There needs to be a continuity of care. Seeing patients in the hospital means we can bring them back to the Wound Care Center,” Braunagel said. “We have a team. We have every product at our disposal.”
The team-based approach means that the appropriate care, which can take time, can be achieved by the physicians, nurses and other clinical staff in a controlled atmosphere.
“Total contact casting doesn’t happen in five minutes,” he said. “It takes 45 minutes. Something like that only exists in this environment.”
Braunagel credits the staff at both the Wound Care Center in Hyannis and the Wound Care Center in Bourne with having the excellent skills and the friendly, positive attitude that helps patients feel welcome week and after week.
“You have to have a level of seriousness, but you have to have good energy. Unless you put the patient at ease, they’re going to be reluctant to come back,” Braunagel said. “It takes time to heal. A lot of the credit goes to the provider, but you can share that with the whole Wound Care team.”
Nally said he believes that personal rapport makes all the difference in continuing care.
“When you like a person, you kind of build a relationship,” he said. “I feel like I have a good connection with him.”