Research Medical Center
January 31, 2014

Peter Grossman, MD, of the Grossman Burn Center in West Hills Hospital in Los Angeles, thanks Research Medical Center for its partnership with the Grossman Burn Center during a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

by Linda Friedel | Reprinted courtesy of KC Nursing News

A new burn center in the Kansas City metropolitan area opened for patients in December.

Staff members at Research Medical Center and representatives from the Kansas City Fire Department toured the Grossman Burn Center at Research Medical Center during a celebration and ribbon-cutting event on Dec. 3. The new burn center opened for patients the following day.

“We are all very excited to be here,” said Peter Grossman, MD, during the opening event.

Grossman’s father, Richard Grossman, MD, founded the Grossman Burn Center in Southern California. Peter said the concept started 50 years ago while his father was a resident in the emergency room. Richard wanted to develop a burn center, Peter said.

“What he was able to accomplish was continuity of care,” Peter Grossman said. “We have grown the burn center since then — to bring patients to their pre-injury status. It’s all about outcomes.”

Prior to the Grossman Burn Center, the burn center at the University of Kansas Hospital has been the option, said Dianna Lusso, RN, nurse manager in the medical surgical unit at Research. The Grossman Burn Center will expand burn services in the community, she said. Lusso recalls the JJ’s Restaurant explosion of 2013. She said had the Grossman Burn Center been up and running at the time of the explosion, the center could have helped with victims.

“It’s a great asset for the community,” Lusso said. “We would have been open for patients. We would have been able to help.”

Diana Frisbie, paramedic and firefighter at the Kansas City Fire Department, served as an honor guard during the grand opening. Burn patients will continue to be transported to the nearest trauma or burn center, she said. Another burn center in the area means burn patients will have more access to care, Frisbie said. Time is critical to burn patients, she said.

“You are going to start to see a lot of burn patients come here,” Frisbie said. “This is going to be great. This is more centralized. The patients are going to get their care quicker. It’s crucial within the first 40 minutes to hour on a burn.”

The Grossman Burn Center was founded in Southern California in 1969. The center specializes in comprehensive burn care, ranging from acute care and reconstruction to rehabilitation and psychological counseling. The Grossman Burn Center has partnered with several other hospitals across the country. This is the first one to launch in the Midwest region.

“We’re really, really thrilled to partner with Grossman Burn Center,” said Matt Sogard, chief operating officer at Research Medical Center. “Burn injuries require specialized care that includes burn surgeons, specialty surgeons, critical care physicians, medical physicians, nurses, physical and occupational therapists, nutritionists, social workers, respiratory therapists, chaplains, psychologists and volunteers. This approach complements and enhances existing local burn care resources and gives patients and referring physicians an additional choice in determining a burn treatment regimen. This is an extremely positive development for our community.”

Katie Adams, RN, charge nurse in the Grossman Burn Center, led efforts to coordinate and develop the burn center at Research. Adams, a former paramedic, said working with burn patients inspired her into nursing. She found the injury and recovery fascinating, especially in the healing process, she said. Adams combined her years as an ICU nurse and as a first responder for her new role as charge nurse of the burn center.

“It was challenging,” she said. “It was exciting. I wanted to work with burn patients for a very long time.”

The Grossman Burn Center combines intensive care, telemetry and inpatient and outpatient burn services. The staff includes 10 nurses, two burn technicians, a hyperbaric technician, two surgeons and a nurse practitioner, Adams said. The center also has a hyperbaric oxygen chamber (HBO) and hydrotherapy table to aid in recovery of burn patients. The Grossman Burn Center in California will oversee the new burn unit at Research Medical Center, Adams said. Grossman will serve as its medical director for the first year.

“This is Dr. Grossman’s fourth burn center that’s opened,” Adams said.

Staff nurses from Research’s burn unit spent a week at the Grossman Burn Center in West Hills Hospital in Los Angeles to prepare and train for the new center before it opened. The nurses shadowed with West Hills Hospital’s burn nurses and burn technicians where they learned about dressing techniques, the use of the HBO, skin grafts and photo documentation. Elisa Zorn, RN, BSN, staff nurse in Research’s burn center, said she learned the importance of photo documentation.

“We see its progress,” Zorn said. “Patients — they can see the progress.”

Monique Comstock, RN, BSN, burn center nurse at Research, also participated in the weeklong training. She said the Grossman Burn Center focuses on functionality. During the training she was able to observe burns of all of the stages, she said.

“They want to get you back before your injury,” Comstock said.

Comstock said she saw everything from skin grafting to the emotional side of burn injuries. Sitting in on a burn support group was eye-opening, she said.

“Very humbling,” Comstock said. “They share with each other. A psychologist ran it.”

Heather Lesh, RN, BSN, is the founder and facilitator of Research’s burn center support group. She is also the outpatient burn nurse clinician. Lesh will see patients for 30 days post discharge to help with their dressing change and to look for signs of other changes in their condition. Even a small burn takes time to fully heal, she said. It takes upwards of seven days to fully heal from a small burn, she said.

Most burns occur in the kitchen, Lesh said. Scalding water, Ramen noodles and hot chocolate are common causes for burns, especially among children, Lesh said. Burns can also be self-inflicted or a result of abuse, she said.

“A burn is a progressive injury,” Lesh said.

There is stigma tied to burns, Lesh said. It is why the new center founded a burn survivor support group along in addition to its clinical side, Lesh said. Lesh coordinates the monthly support group and facilitates the meetings. She is not a therapist, she says, but she will help to connect patients with resources in the community.

“We will refer them out,” she said.

The free burn survivor support group is a chance for burn victims to connect with one another, Lesh said. Support group meetings will include makeup artists, therapists and chaplains. Burn patients face stigma and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), she said.

“We’re not just dealing with the skin,” Lesh said. “The beauty of being a nurse is we’re looking at it holistically. It’s a free service we offer. Burn scars are horrible.”

Photo credit: Linda Friedel | The Kansas City Nursing News