Lauren Montano, RN, WCC, Program Director, Center for Hyperbaric Medicine & Wound Healing at St. Joseph Hospital
What is your background?
I am an adult medical surgical nurse, with experience in cardiac, telemetry and intermediate care. I went back to school to become a certified wound, ostomy and continence nurse, so I have experience in both in-patient and out-patient wound care.
Why did you choose wound care?
I find running a wound care center to be a very rewarding job. As a nurse, you’re always teaching and helping people to do the best they can with their health, and to practice better self-care. Wound care is a great example of that. Also, wounds heal. Very often in a hospital setting we don’t get to see things improve. We do the best we can, people go home and we may never see them again. In wound care, it’s continuous and we can actually improve something to make life better for the patient’s quality of life.
What is your role at the center?
I’m the program director. But I’m a clinical program director. I'm involved in patient care as well as the administrative side, which allows me to see what our outcomes are and how that relates to what kind of care we’re doing and how we can do better. I get to see patients, I get to follow them through chart review. But I also get to interact with patients in person so I have the best of both worlds.
What makes you passionate about your job?
Having such a close relationship with the patients keeps me motivated. We get to see them on a weekly basis, so they become almost like family. We see them through some very uncomfortable, painful times in their lives and we get them to a point where they can heal and feel better. The process of wound care can require a lot of life changes, and these are changes that they will take with them once they leave here so they can continue to live a better life.
How would your team describe you?
I think they would describe me as passionate about wound care. Wound care is a collaborative effort. I love collaborating with doctors of different specialties and the nurses, vascular technicians, diabetic educators – everyone works together for the betterment of the patients. That’s one of the best parts of the job. I love to see people do better and that doesn’t just include the patients. That includes our entire team. I take a great interest when the staff is involved with ongoing and higher education. I support that. And I’m not afraid to get my hands dirty in a clinical setting.
Why is wound care essential?
When a person has a wound, it’s usually the visual manifestation of other things that are happening in someone’s body and in their life. So if their diabetes is out of control, they have neuropathy, their nutrition is off, they have an infection -– all these things that are happening can develop into a wound.
Our job is to try and figure out what’s going on and to try to help them turn that around. Often times, people can struggle with this for many months or even years without telling anyone or without treating it correctly. We can’t wait on it, we can’t treat it as an unimportant element of their life because it’s most often a reflection of whats happening on the inside of the patient.
This is an essential service because we’re not going to fix those other problems if we don’t get to the root of why that wound is happening. It’s really about treating the whole patient. A lot of times we discover something that the patient didn’t even know about their own body just by doing our routine, standard care. Also, a wound literally creates an open door to your body. If we don’t treat that right and get it closed then we’re leaving you open to infection and further illnesses.
What do you think is unique about your team?
St. Joseph Hospital’s wound care center is one of the oldest on Long Island. The people are extremely dedicated and passionate about their work. The nurses are wound care certified nurses who take a vested interest in what they do. They are all teachers and they work hard to remain current on their knowledge of the ever-evolving world of wound care and treatments. The doctors are also a team who have worked together for a very long time as well. We all take pride in what we do. Wound care and hyperbaric medicine is our number one focus. We do our best to treat everyone like they’re family.
Are there any success stories that stand out to you?
We’ve had many success stories. One that stands out is a woman who had a mastectomy. She had gone through chemo and radiation therapy along with multiple surgeries and came to us as a recommendation from the breast health center to treat her soft tissue radionecrosis. She had gone through one of the hardest times in her life. She promised to do as much as she could to avoid ever having to go through that again. She said she was at a point in her life where she just wasn’t going to go under the knife anymore.
We listened to her concerns and treated her with hyperbaric oxygen therapy and specialized wound care techniques using advanced modalities. We used everything in our wheelhouse and we used it in a collaborative way to get her healed. I think that’s one of the best success stories. She can enjoy her life now and come away from that healed without the constant reminder of what she went through.
What else should we know about your center?
We pride ourselves in taking care of people in a manner that shows we have respect for their whole being. We are here for them to provide support and care through their wound care journey.