Written by Charles Perry and first published in My Horry News and Waccamaw Publishers, Inc
There’s a moment when a patient’s time at the CMC Center for Wound Healing and Hyperbaric Medicine comes to an end.
Everyone in that third-floor area of the hospital knows when a discharge happens because a bell rings out. Healing is cause for celebration here.
“Everybody’s clapping,” said Dr. Nicholas Mexas, who manages the center. “They are so grateful.”
The center just celebrated its 10th year of operation, which CMC has called a “decade of healing.” For Mexas, those celebratory moments reinforce why he wanted to work in wound care.
Unlike internal medicine doctors who might see their patients every six months, Mexas often meets with his patients weekly. He gets to know them, monitors their progress, and watches the healing process firsthand.
“It’s kind of unique in that sense,” he said. “You’re a specialist, but you’re also like a primary care [physician] because you take care of the whole person. For the wound to heal, the whole person has to be taken into account.”
A native of Athens, Greece, Mexas moved to the United States at the age of 20. He finished college here, went to medical school, and completed his training in internal medicine. But after working as a hospitalist for seven years, he wanted a change and joined the U.S. Air Force, spending eight years on active duty including two deployments to Afghanistan.
During his time in the military, he participated in a fellowship for hyperbaric medicine. That’s when he knew he wanted to work in wound care.
“You have to have a taste for it,” he said. “When I was exposed to it, I liked it. So, I thought it was something I would want to keep doing when I got out.”
Many of the patients Mexas sees now suffer from diabetic skin infections or diabetic ulcers. He also provides consultations for other wound patients at CMC.
This type of care is highly specialized. For example, some treatments include a hyperbaric chamber, which allows a patient to breathe pure oxygen in a pressurized environment. Because a patient’s lungs are gathering more oxygen, the blood carries that oxygen throughout the body, often triggering the release of growth factors and stem cells. That helps the body form new skin and blood vessels to encourage healing.
“It goes along with wound care, along with antibiotics, along with surgery,” Mexas said. “It’s kind of in addition to everything else.”
Such individualized care helps set the center apart, Mexas said, adding that CMC works closely with home health agencies to ensure there is ongoing care when patients are not at the center.
“We’re specialists,” he said. “We provide a unique service. Our goal is to keep growing to help more and more people.”
Wound Care you can count on
At CMC Wound Care, you will have the assistance and support you need during the healing process. Since the inception of our program, our team has treated over 4,200 patients and healed over 15,000 wounds. If you are dealing with an abscess or any other wounds that won’t heal, ask your primary care provider for a referral to CMC Wound Care or call 843-347-8347 for more information about our program.