Vaughan boasts special nurse

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Vaughan Regional Medical Center (VRMC)recently became home to one of only seven nurses in Alabama who are certified to provide specialized care for patients with acute and chronic wounds.

“I wish there were more, but I feel honored to be in that seven, and be right here in Selma, ” said Khai Salaam, VRMC’s Certified Wound, Ostomy, and Continence Nurse (CWOCN). “Most of them (CWOCN’s) are concentrated in the larger cities in the state.”

Because Alabama ranks number one in the nation for cases of diabetes, and Dallas County ranks number one in the state for cases of diabetes, the majority of her patients suffer from this condition.

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“When you have diabetes, it puts you at risk for pressure ulcers,” said Salaam. “We have a great need to treat these wounds when they come into the hospital.”

In addition to wound care, CWOCN’s provide care for patients with fecal and urinary incontinence, and stomas (an opening in the stomach that people pass urine or bowel through).

“It (having a stoma) is a whole lifestyle change,” said Salaam. “We teach patients how to take care of their dietary needs, how to shop for appropriate clothing, and connect them with the Ostomy Association of America so they have a support group.”

“Skin care is one of the most important roles as a nurse and also one of the most difficult,” said Martha Micallef, VRMC Chief Nursing Officer.” When I came to Selma, I noticed a lot of skin care problems in the hospital because we lacked the resources. I made the decision that that was an area that we needed to put dollars and time into.”

According to Micallef, Salaam, a 20 year employee of the VRMC, was chosen to receive the training because of her education, her experience, and her dedication.

“This is very specialized and requires a strong background in nursing,” said Micallef. “I wanted someone committed to the Selma area and committed to staying in Selma. I knew Khai had been doing education here and doing a fine job, but also knowing Khai, I knew she was ready for a new challenge.”

On January 10, Salaam began the intensive nine week program at the Emory University School of Medicine

Wound Ostomy and Continence Nursing Education Center.

She completed the program on March 12.

“It was hard, a very difficult course, but they had excellent instructors there who made sure that you understood,” said Salaam.

Although it is a definite change of pace, Salaam, who previously was Director of Education for VRMC, relishes the experiences that her new career offers.

“I actually love this job because it gives me the opportunity to affect change in patients lives,” said Salaam. “In my other job, I indirectly affected change, but now I go to the bedsides of the patients and interact with them and their families. The fact that my patients have been discharged (from the hospital), doesn’t discharge them from me.”

“I think this is a wonderful thing for the city of Selma,” said Micallef. “The quality of healthcare will be enhanced, particularly with the level of diabetes, hypertension, and vascular diseases. I hope people realize the jewel that they have in Khai as a person, as a nurse, and in the skills that she has.”

“Right now, I am just based here,” said Salaam. “I can do consultations, but I want to devote my time to Vaughan.”