Never give up on a burn patient.
The most difficult cases – including 99 percent surface area burns – are treated at CHI Health St. Elizabeth Burn and Wound Center, Nebraska’s only verified burn center.
“Our No. 1 goal is to save a life. Our No. 2 goal is to save function. Our No. 3 goal is cosmetics – and although it’s No. 3, it’s still very important to us,” said Co-Medical Director David Voigt, MD.
Internationally known for its research, the Burn and Wound Center has been verified by the American College of Surgeons (ACS) and the American Burn Association (ABA) since 1996.
“We were the first nonacademic medical center to be verified,” Dr. Voigt said. “We have people come from all over – Australia, Germany, Nigeria, China – to learn how we do burns.”
What they find is an intensive team effort.
“There’s not a single organ system that’s not affected by a large burn,” he said. “The whole team gets involved from day one.”
Nutrition and rehabilitation experts are as essential as specialists like the only burn dentist in the world, because treating a tooth abscess can reduce complications like bacteremia.
“It’s truly a holistic approach,” Dr. Voigt said.
Skin grafting techniques range from 4/1,000-inch-thick autologous grafts to porcine xenografting and use of skin substitutes.
“The nice thing with xenografting is it does provide growth factors and heals burns that wouldn’t heal otherwise,” Dr. Voigt said.
Support is ongoing at the Burn and Wound Center. The team sees hundreds of patients each month at its outpatient clinic.
Wound Care, Too
The Burn and Wound Center has a long track record of healing difficult sores and preventing amputations. Most recently, the team has achieved dramatic results using thrombolytic therapy for frostbite.
“If we can get frostbite patients within 24 hours, we’re preventing 60 percent of the amputations we used to do,” said Co-Medical Director David Voigt, MD.