But those time-consuming and expensive trips may soon be over.
A Beeville physician expects to be board certified in wound care by mid-August.
Dr. Miguel Sierra-Hoffman, who specializes in infectious disease and pulmonary care, will begin offering wound care treatment at his Beeville office by the first of October.
“Having a wound care specialist in Bee County will be a great benefit for people who have cancer or diabetes because they are more prone to having wounds that don’t heal in the normal amount of time,” said Dr. Sierra-Hoffman, an associate with Beeville Medical Associates at 1602 E. Houston St., Suite C.
Dr. Sierra Hoffman is believed to be the only infectious disease specialist between Houston and Brownsville. As such, he is eminently qualified to take on the additional role as wound care specialist, a subspecialty of infectious disease care, said his partner, Dr. Frank Dehnisch.
“When he told me he wanted to become board certified in wound care I was delighted,” Dr. Dehnisch recalled. “I thought to myself, gee, we should have thought about that a long time ago. We really need a wound care specialist in Bee County. We have such a large population of diabetics and people who have diabetes often need wound care treatment.”
Dr. Sierra-Hoffman, a native of Honduras, joined Beeville Medical Associates two years ago.
He earned his undergraduate degree and general medical degree in Honduras and his degree in internal medicine from Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pa.
Later, he earned his degree in infectious disease from Scott & White Hospital in Temple, Texas, and his degree in pulmonary and critical care medicine from the University of South Alabama.
Because he already specializes in infectious disease, Dr. Sierra-Hoffman was readily accepted to study wound care.
He figures there are many people in Bee County and the surrounding counties who are in need of wound care.
“If you are diabetic and prone to developing ulcers, then there is nobody to take care of that here in Bee County,” he said. “Diabetics are prone to developing ulcers on their feet, and sometimes these ulcers won’t heal without specialized treatment,” he said.
A wound care specialist in Bee County also will benefit people with cancer, whose lowered immune system is less likely to help wounds heal.
“It takes time and special emphasis (to heal wounds of cancer patients),” he said “An ulcer that will heal within a week in a healthy person will take a month or two to heal on someone who has cancer.”
Dr. Sierra-Hoffman said people who are healthy and who are injured will likely not require his assistance. Those people will most likely see their family physician, he said.
“I wouldn’t want anyone to think I’ll be treating health people with injuries because those wounds will heal over the normal course of time,” he explained. “I’ll be treating people who may not be perfectly healthy, whose bodies cannot deal with the injuries.”
Patients who develop bed sores will greatly benefit by having a wound care specialist in Beeville, Dr. Sierra-Hoffman said.
“Bed sores are several inches deep and several inches wide and have a difficulty healing,” he noted. “You know, 95 percent of cuts just require a Band Aid, but for a diabetic it’s a major, major deal.”
Likewise, people involved in automobile accidents or other accidents in which their injuries remain exposed – though covered with bandages — for a long period of time, will welcome a wound care specialist to Beeville, he surmised.
“Some wounds are so big they just take a long time to heal and during the healing process they can develop an infection,” he said. “That’s where a wound care specialist comes in.”
Presently, Beeville residents are driving up to twice a week out of town for wound care,” said Ester Martinez, office manager. “They’re having to travel as far as Calallen to be treated for their wounds and that’s too expensive of a trip for many people. If there’s a wound care specialist in Beeville, physicians here won’t have to refer patients to specialists who practice out of the county.”
Dr. Sierra-Hoffman travels to eight hospitals throughout the Coastal Bend and South Texas to treat patients suffering from lung disorders or infectious diseases.
“And I can tell you that 25 percent of the time I am called it is because someone’s wound got infected,” he said.
Having a wound care specialist in Bee County also ensures that those dollars spent on treatment stay in Bee County,” Dr. Dehnisch said.
“It’s important for our community to keep as much medical care dollars in town as we can rather than send it out of town,” he said. “It has a trickle down effect: for instance, the nurses who help the patients. The nurses turn around and spend their paychecks at the local stores and gas stations, which help those businesses.”
Keeping health care dollars in Bee County also helps the local health care industry grow, he said, because physicians and other health care professionals then have the money to reinvest in their practice.
Although Dr. Sierra-Hoffman is the director of some of those eight hospitals he visits, he said he lives in Beeville because he likes the community and it is peaceful here.
Dr. Dehnisch said Bee County is fortunate to have a specialist like Dr. Sierra-Hoffman, who is willing to specialize in wound care.
“He has a passion for medicine. He really loves Beeville and Bee County and he is really committed to being the best doctor possible,” Dr. Dehnisch said.