Firefighters for Healing Gift Donation, Ice Foot Challenge warm hearts (and feet)

On Tuesday, December 17, 2019 Firefighters for Healing will ring in the holiday season with their annual Gift Drop to patients in Hennepin Healthcare’s Burn Center. The excitement begins when the firefighters and gifts arrive on a Minneapolis Fire Department truck at Hennepin Healthcare’s 717 S. Sixth St. entrance between 10:45 and 11:45am.

“This is the 8th year Firefighters for Healing has brought gifts to our patients,” explains Dr. Ryan Fey, Burn and Critical Care Specialist at the Burn Center. “Their generosity and dedication is simply overwhelming, and our entire staff is uplifted by seeing the joy experienced by our patients. We cannot thank them enough.”

The Hennepin Healthcare Burn Center provides intensive, acute and rehabilitative burn care to children and adults from the Twin Cities and surrounding states who have sustained burn injuries and other complex wounds, including frostbite. In fact, they care for an average of 25 patients with frostbite each year requiring hospitalization. Many of these injuries are to the toes and feet.

Dr. Fey describes how this happens: “From the heart, these body parts are the last in line for blood supply. So they’re more likely to freeze up quickly – literally forming ice crystals inside the tissues – and cause blood flow to cease. Depending on how long the tissue is without blood, this process can lead to unrecoverable tissue death and amputation.”

Ice Foot Challenge
Icy FeetMaking sure those extremities are protected from the cold is essential. That’s why Hennepin EMS in partnership with the Hennepin Healthcare Employee Advisory Council is having an Ice Foot Challenge to raise awareness of their Hennepin EMS Holiday Sock Drive. Two groups will participate at 12:20 and 12:40pm and photo opportunities will be available immediately following the Firefighters for Healing Gift Drop event. Participants will experience what patients may feel when they don’t have adequate footwear to keep their feet warm and dry.

“Hennepin EMS frequently treats individuals with inadequate footwear and socks,” explains John Sylvester, Hennepin EMS paramedic and event organizer. “In the winter this can cause serious problems that can affect the whole body. One solution is high-quality, wool winter socks which are great insulators and moisture absorbers.”

To emphasize this point, Sylvester has invited Ice Foot Challenge participants to put on plastic “foot bags” and then submerge their feet into buckets of icy water for a goal time of 2 minutes. After the 2-minute Ice Foot Challenge, participants will be given warm socks to put on so they can experience what a difference high-quality winter socks can make in extreme cold conditions.

“Taking this challenge to really understand what it’s like to ‘walk in our patients’ shoes’ will hopefully raise awareness of this important need,” said Sylvester. “If we can prevent even one person from experiencing the pain of frostbite, then this campaign will have been a success.”

Firefighters for Healing is also making a generous donation of new socks for this effort today that will be given to patients in need served through Hennepin EMS and HCMC’s Emergency Department. New wool sock donations are welcomed and can be brought to the collection bin on the Skyway Level of HCMC’s Red Building. The Hennepin EMS Sock Drive runs through January 3, 2020.

Cold truths about hypothermia

111960627Every Minnesotan is familiar with piling on coats, hats, mittens and other clothing to stay protected from the elements during the winter months. Hypothermia — literally meaning “low (body) temperature” —  occurs when too much heat escapes the core of the body and cannot be replaced quickly enough. It can affect someone’s mental and physical abilities and eventually be fatal if not treated. Hypothermia sets in very slowly, so those affected often do not realize they need help or medical attention. 

No one plans to become hypothermic; car trouble, walking home from a party, or a slip and fall on the ice are just a few ways people inadvertently get over-exposed to the harsh cold.

Continue reading “Cold truths about hypothermia”

HCMC’s Burn Center reverified as pediatric and adult burn center

Nsg stationThe American Burn Association and the American College of Surgeons recently completed their regularly scheduled site visit and reverified HCMC as a pediatric and adult burn center. Reviewers commended the Burn Center team on their commitment to excellence and providing quality burn care to patients.

In their summary document, reviewers noted a significant number of program strengths, including:

  • A patient-centered approach that fosters a true interdisciplinary team approach to burn care, manifesting in great communication and collaboration among services.
  • Excellent quality improvement programs.

The HCMC Burn Center is a regional leader with an inpatient market share exceeding any other hospital in the state. In addition, the Burn Clinic facilitates over 3,500 outpatient visits annually.

Nobody plans to get frostbite

In an “average” year, HCMC’s Burn Center cares for about 25 patients with frostbite requiring hospitalization. In 2014, more than 200 patients were admitted for care.

Dr. Ryan Fey
Dr. Ryan Fey

“It was one of the coldest winters in the past 30 years, so it’s no surprise that we saw an increase in frostbite injuries,” explains burn surgeon and critical care specialist Dr. Ryan Fey. “Obviously, the key is to avoid exposure to extreme cold temperatures. That means staying indoors when it’s cold, and if you have to be outdoors for any length of time, making sure you dress appropriately to stay warm – even if it’s just a run to the mailbox or from your house to your car.” Continue reading “Nobody plans to get frostbite”

Don’t get “burned” by frostbite!

Every year, the Burn Center at HCMC admits approximately 20-30 patients for treatment of frostbite.

Burn surgeons take care of injuries from extreme temperatures — both hot and cold.  Dr. Anne Lambert answers some general questions about frostbite.

What causes frostbite?

“Depending on how quickly the person gets cold, there are ice crystals forming within and around their cells, not unlike putting a piece of meat in the freezer,” explains burn surgeon Dr. Anne Lambert. “With the ice crystals forming, it decreases the blood flow and literally at some point stops the blood flow to certain points of the extremities.”

What body parts are most vulnerable to frostbite? 

“Just like everything else, our body tries to preserve the heat for its important parts, like the brain and other internal organs, so during cold temperatures, the blood vessels start to get smaller, decreasing blood flow to the distant parts of the body — like noses, ears, fingers and toes.  While these areas are the most likely body parts to be affected by frostbite, we’ve had people come in with their entire arm or leg frozen as well.”

 

HCMC reminds hunters to safely enjoy the great outdoors

Thousands of Minnesotans are heading to the woods for the firearms deer hunting opener this weekend. While hunters watch for that elusive 18-point buck, Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) wants to remind them to  keep their sights on safety – and enjoy the great outdoors. Simple precautions and common sense go a long way in helping to avoid injuries.

“So many injuries occur over the deer hunting weekends,” explains HCMC Burn Center surgeon and avid deer hunter Dr. Ryan Fey. “Whether it’s a fall from a deer stand or a burn from a campfire, an injury can put you in the hospital – and put a quick end to the good memories. You’ll always remember the time you got hurt because of a preventable incident.” 

Continue reading “HCMC reminds hunters to safely enjoy the great outdoors”