Armstrong Experiences NMMC’s Care Transitions Firsthand

Lucille Armstrong care transitionsWEST POINT, Miss.—Right after surgery or hospitalization, patients can be vulnerable. North Mississippi Medical Center’s Care Transitions Team helps patients safely transition from the hospital to the next level of care, including rehabilitation, home health or long-term care.

Lucille Armstrong, 72, of West Point has required a variety of NMMC’s services since January, when she discovered a blister on her right foot. Because she has diabetes, Armstrong often has wounds that are slow to heal and suffers from peripheral neuropathy—meaning her feet are often numb. Her nurse practitioner prescribed antibiotics and referred Armstrong to a podiatrist, who thought it might be a spider bite. Because the infection was worse after a few weeks, Armstrong was admitted to NMMC-West Point. The late surgeon Dr. Hiroji Noguchi debrided the wound and prescribed IV antibiotics for six weeks, during which Armstrong was hospitalized.

“I spent a lot of time hooked up to a pole,” Armstrong said of her time in Extended Care, but she also received physical and occupational therapy. Once discharged from the hospital, she continued therapy through NMMC Home Health, as well as specialized wound care by a registered nurse.

“The physical and occupational therapy staff always went above and beyond, making sure my program was geared to my lifestyle. I had two places in my house with one step each, so they helped me with using walker and rails,” Armstrong said. “Susan, my physical therapist, even devised a heel lift to keep pressure off the front of my right foot while healing took place.”

Armstrong also had a wound VAC (vacuum-assisted closure), a device that decreases air pressure on the wound to help it heal more quickly. “A nursing supervisor changed the wound VAC dressing while instructing other nursing staff members,” she said. “The Home Health nurse assisted me after I got home.”

This summer Armstrong developed a pressure wound on the same foot, between the fourth and fifth toe. “I couldn’t wear shoes yet, and I was having to walk so as not to put pressure on the outside of my foot,” Armstrong said. Again, she was hospitalized at NMMC-West Point to receive IV antibiotics and specialized nursing care for four weeks. This time, Dr. Noguchi had to amputate her small toe.  She continued to receive therapy for several weeks and still receives weekly visits from her Home Health wound care nurse.

“I can't say enough about Dr. Noguchi -- how he always listened and was open to different treatment ideas,” she said. “He was, without a doubt, one of the most caring doctors I've ever seen.” Armstrong said she is also grateful for the NMMC staff who has walked this journey alongside her since January and provided seamless care throughout.

Care Transitions Week is October 21-25. Everyone is invited to peruse displays in the NMMC-West Point lobby throughout the week showing various care transition options.

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