I am often asked why did you start Corstrata? For years, I have created a sophisticated, professional answer that gets immediate nods of acceptance. But, a friend recently said to me, “The best in business occurs when others find that we are driven by a mission developed through an experience…”
So, today, I’ve decided to give the heartfelt answer to that question.
Both of my parents passed away by the time I was in my mid-forties. Each had several chronic illnesses, brought on by the standard of living of their day and age. In the final months of my father’s life, I witnessed firsthand what living with a debilitating, chronic wound truly meant. It was painful for him and those caring for him!
You see, my father was traveling the slow spiral of death from kidney failure. He was frail, mostly bed-bound, and, not surprisingly, developed pressure ulcers on his buttocks. In the course of his care, he was admitted to the hospital and then discharged to a rehabilitation facility. The staff of nurses, therapists, aides at rehab were attentive, caring, and well-intended. But, they had only modest knowledge for treating my father’s wounds and his pain adequately. And, of course, they also didn’t have the incredible decades of research and product development that we now have today.
The pain from these pressure ulcers was constant and often excruciating. I remember how difficult it was for my father when the nurses changed his bandages. Try as his caregivers did, the wounds continued to worsen. I remember that one was large enough to put my fist in it.
The memories have forever stuck with me…some might say, the memories haunt me.
It was later in my career that I learned of specialized knowledge of certified wound nurses. An ‘aha’ moment! It was what my father had so desperately needed as part of his team. I became steadfast in my learning. I learned there were alternative approaches to the dressing change, which significantly mitigate pain. It was such a simple concept! I became aware of the simple pressure relief options, such as a donut. Or, what about the great mattresses now available that stimulate circulation?
The most fascinating, though? The last two decades of research have rendered many advanced wound dressings. The thought that a single dressing can be placed and stay for days, drastically reducing the number of times necessary for care and changes. At the same time, many of these dressings are designed to promote healing of the tissue, defying the “tape and gauze” approach. These advancements were not even in the realm of possibility at the time of my father’s illness!
Back to my motivations. Sadly, the story of my father is not unique, even today. For many reasons, clinical practice is slow to change in healthcare. Awareness, specific knowledge of best practices, and perceived cost containment measures continue to challenge best practices. It is the certified wound and ostomy nurses that hold this information. There are only 15,000 certified wound nurses in the U.S., and 90% of them work in the hospital. That means a very limited number is available for all other care sites, especially in the home.
Now, in this new era of technology, we can shift access to scarce, qualified resources. Virtual access can allow knowledge and experience held by a few to be distributed more broadly and efficiently.
As I consider the very difficult memories of my father’s last days, I know that I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing. I believe, with all of my heart, that no one deserves to experience that kind of pain and indignity. I know it’s not necessary. I know nurses want better for their patients. And, I know the unique combination of skilled staff and technology at Corstrata is going to be what changes the experience for so many!
That is the why...Katherine Piette