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Nurse-run clinic specializes in pediatric wounds and ostomies

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Maria Lutes (left) and Abbey Schneidmiller founded the first pediatric wound and ostomy clinic in Washington state, aided by their Emory training. photo by Russ Carmack

On average, pediatric nurse practitioners Abbey Schneidmiller and Maria Lutes see 75 new and returning patients a month in the Mary Bridge Pediatric Wound & Ostomy Clinic in Tacoma, Washington. Open since January 2015, it is the first clinic of its kind in the state and is housed within the pediatric surgery clinic at Mary Bridge Children's Hospital & Health Center. 

Schneidmiller and Lutes, both ARPN CWON, staff the surgery clinic, where they saw a growing need to serve patients with wounds and ostomies. Their first step was to enroll in the continuing education program offered through Emory's Wound, Ostomy, and Continence Education Center (WOCNEC) at the School of Nursing. WOCNEC offers three program options, including distance learning, which fit the Tacoma nurses' lives and schedules. 

It also provided them with specialized skills and knowledge, such as deciphering which products best promote wound healing and minimize scarring. "We learned not to be overwhelmed by all of the products out there," says Schneidmiller. "It's a matter of going back to the basics. What is your wound and what is your goal?"

Today, the nurses manage a variety of conditions in their practice: complications from incontinence, surgical wounds, traumatic wounds, minor burns, treadmill burns, pressure ulcers, abscesses, road rash, abrasions, and more. They also take care of children with ostomies and any skin-related issues. 

Word about the nurses' practice is spreading. A physician liaison is helping grow their patient base by meeting with local pediatricians and urgent care centers. The Mary Bridge Children's Hospital emergency room regularly refers patients.

"Pediatricians don't always feel comfortable managing wounds and ostomies, so providers and parents are grateful that we have this service to offer," Schneidmiller says. "Maria and I are really good nurses, and we wanted to make a difference. This is our avenue."—Pam Auchmutey

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