New grant funding from The Honda Foundation has enabled St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne to purchase vacuum assist wound (VAC) devices. This grant means that patients will have access to the newest techniques in wound healing therapies.
The impact on patients is significant. Following surgery, patients can have large wounds that often take a long time to heal, and also risk developing complications like infection. VACs are portable, battery-powered devices that draw fluid away from wounds to assist with the healing process. They also decrease pain and the risk of infection.
The $22,000 grant from The Honda Foundation has contributed to nine of the oldest VAC’s being replaced with newer, more versatile units, ensuring the highest standard of post-operative care for patients.
“For people with complications of high-risk foot conditions, we often prescribe VAC therapy to enable them to go home from hospital sooner while still having their complex wounds expertly managed,” said Kate Waller, Chief Podiatrist, St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne.
Mr Damien Grinsell, Director Plastic Reconstructive and Hand Surgery, St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne, highlighted that negative pressure wound therapy has revolutionised wound care management in plastic and reconstructive surgery. “It is most commonly used to prepare wound beds for closure or to prevent infection in the cases of wounds which require complicated microvascular reconstructive surgery.
“Its benefits are numerous as it creates an ideal wound healing environment, this includes creating a water-proof sterile barrier, enhanced blood flow to the wound bed which speeds healing and a clinically proven reduction in bacterial counts in an infected wound.”
PHOTO CAPTION: Annabelle Chan, St Vincent's Hospital in the Home nurse, with patient, Phil, who is recovering from a toe amputation following diabetes related foot complications, with the help of the VAC device.
VACs perform the following functions:
- Removes excess fluid – This relieves pressure and reduces swelling
- Reduces bacteria - By removing some of the bacteria, the risk of wound infection is minimised
- Improves blood flow - Good blood flow is needed to bring repair cells to the wound
- Encourage growth of repair tissue - VACs stimulate the growth of this repair tissue
- Pull wound edges together - VAC treatment shrinks the size of the wound and draws the edges of the wound together, making it easier for the body to repair the area
The new VACs will shorten the time a patient needs to stay in hospital. This is appreciated by patients and their families, and reduces the cost to the hospital.
The device can be taken home under the care of our Hospital in the Home team, which sees patients recover from surgery in the comfort of their own home.
Kate Waller explained, “Our Hospital in the Home and High-Risk Foot Service can support people in their own home with this treatment. The machine is small and portable, so many people can go about their home and work activities with the advanced wound therapy in place.”
Richard Prentice, Head of Trusts and Foundations at St Vincent’s Foundation Victoria said, “We are extremely grateful to The Honda Foundation for their generous grant which has enabled the upgrade of this vital equipment. On behalf of St Vincent’s staff and patients, I thank the Foundation for contributing to improved patient care and a better healthcare system. Their impact will be lasting.”