By Roberto Hugo Gonzalez
Dr. Rafael Rafols is a wound specialist physician with years of experience in this field. He practices from four locations in the Rio Grande Valley to serve the diabetic population that is increasing by leaps and bounds, sadly with no end in sight.
Dr. Rafols and a team of dedicated professionals sounded the alarm to announce an increasing population of diabetic adolescents and even children who are already patients of the Wound Management center. Lack of exercise and a diet of junk food is creating diabetic children. Some of them have already been referred for total disability.
During these challenging times, he said the treatments he provides to his patients, are not only medicine but also a holistic approach.
Dr. Rafols has provided outpatient wound care since 2011. He said, “The patients are getting younger and with a faster progression to amputation.” He continued, “We’re seeing younger patients with open heart surgeries and going on dialysis. We’re seeing mother and daughter coming in together equally sick, So, it’s gotten worse.”
He pointed out that the Valley’s population has grown, and the diseases have also increased. “The people have not really gotten any healthier,” he said. According to Dr. Rafols, genetics and lifestyle are the culprits of a situation already unbearable for many.
He admits that there have been many improvements in technology in healthcare and great treatments are available, but unfortunately, the roots of the cause are not being addressed.
Dr. Rafols emphasized that children are not getting enough exercise. He added the importance of educating the public on healthy eating, physical activity, and getting the kids out to the park is paramount. “It all starts there,” he said.
One of the other culprits of the twenty-first century, as he says, is the tablet. “The tablet, in a way, has replaced the nanny and become the new pacifier for children. When the child becomes disruptive, parents give their children the iPad to get them quiet.”
Dr. Rafols said that the iPad or tablet takes away the chance for the child to explore the world by interacting with other children or adults. “They’re missing out on that physical activity and using their imagination. The iPad has become a substitute for parental care, and it’s also creating a crisis.”
What Dr. Rafols is saying is that the children will learn and imitate what the parents are doing. If they grow up watching their parents exercise, eat healthily, and promote a good lifestyle, the outcome should be different. According to statistics, seven out of 10 of those children will carry on your lifestyle. He insists that there is a fix if we start at the root of the problem.
Wound Care during Pandemic
Dr. Rafols said, “When COVID-19 started in late 2019, we learned that it was highly contagious with a rapid spread force that burdened the healthcare system. When the number of confirmed cases increased, the shortage of medical resources became a challenge.” He continued, “To avoid the collapse of the healthcare system during the fight against this formidable enemy, all healthcare workers, including The Wound Care Center, adapted to new roles and used any appropriate methods to slow the spread of the virus.”
Adapting to Technology to Fight COVID
During 2020-21, Dr. Rafols integrated telemedicine into wound care during the outbreak to help maintain social distancing, and the use of personal protective equipment were established to eliminate unnecessary exposure for both vulnerable patients and high-risk healthcare workers.
Wound care treatment is a serious and delicate area of medicine. Dr. Rafols said that many studies reinforce the basics, which is the appropriate standard of wound care. He noted that offloading of diabetic foot ulcers and antibiotics are constantly evolving. “We have the latest for wound care like antibiotics, and there’s a whole line of cellular tissue products (CTP), it ranges from fish skin, or donated human skin, to animal derived tissue.”
Let’s not forget hyperbaric oxygen therapy is available to provide treatments for patients that need it. “It’s more of a combination of lifestyle and the holistic view of the patient,” he said.
“It will be of minimal benefit for me to provide expensive treatments if patients are not taking care of themselves appropriately or following all the instruction. There’s no panacea; there is no one single care, it must be a holistic approach,” Dr. Rafols concluded.
Academic Background and Experience
Dr. Rafols is a well-known specialist in complex non-healing wounds, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, and other advanced wound care modalities.
He is board certified by the American Board of Family Medicine and an active member of the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medicine Society. He is a Fellow of the Academy of Clinical Wound Specialists and a Certified Wound Specialist Physician by the American Board of Wound Management.
He received his medical degree from the Universidad de Monterrey in Monterrey, México, and he attended the 5th Pathway Program at the Ponce School of Medicine in Ponce, Puerto Rico. He did his residency at the University of Texas, San Antonio, and Family Medicine Residency Program in McAllen, Texas. He is a passionate professional in his field and respected for his dedication to his patients.
Expansion of The Wound Management Center
Dr. Rafols said that talking to his patients; he learned that they want to stay within their corridors. “It is vital to provide health care for the micro-market as well as reaching out to the rural communities such as Rio Grande City, or Raymondville as an example.”
His office practice was growing, which helped because he had extra help during late 2019 when the pandemic started. There was panic. A lot of doctors were closing their offices, people were getting sick, and many died.
Dr. Rafols began to follow the latest guidelines and adopted telemedicine. And then he hired extra staff and even provided more care, and more facilities close to patients to travel less and limit their exposure.
He said that it all goes back to that risk for COVID-19 in patients with chronic wounds because increased risk efforts to decrease exposure to the virus are the most important in patients with chronic wounds.
“We were able to adapt when patients were very sick in most of the hospitals in the Valley,” he said
The Wound Care center has grown as his team was responsible for working with Dr. Rafols during the most trying times to care for patients. They serve in Edinburg at Doctors Hospital at Renaissance, in Mission, Harlingen, and Rio Grande City. In Starr County, they are close to Zapata and all the rancherias comprising that region.
Meet the Team
Joining the team, Dr. Marita Sanchez Sierra is a medical doctor with over 20 years of experience. She told Mega Doctor News that she enjoys helping people with special health care needs. She is part of the Wound Care team since February 2021.
Dr. Sanchez Sierra is graduated from the Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia Faculty of Medicine (Lima-Peru) with studies in Public Health and Epidemiology in Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Consortium of LA and Spanish Academic Institutions.
Dr. Sanchez Sierra trained in Family Medicine at the School of Medicine University of Rio Grande Texas (UTRGV) becoming Board Certified by the American Board of Family Medicine. Dr. Sanchez Sierra is member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, Texas Medical Association and American Thoracic Society.
Daniel Tamez, ScD, MPAS, PA-C, CWSI is a certified wound care specialist with a focus on palliative wound care with over 10 years of clinical experience. He joined The Wound Management team in 2017. He currently holds a Doctor of Science degree from A.T. Still University Health Science Center, School of Medicine, and master’s degrees from Texas A&M University and The University of Texas Pan American.
Sandra Longoria DMSc, MPAS, MS, PA-C is a certified Physician Assistant specializing in wound care, Internal Medicine and Geriatric Care. PA Longoria joined The Wound Care team in 2019. She received a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from The University of Texas at Brownsville, a Master of Biomedical Science from the University of North Texas Health Science Center, a Master of Physician Assistant Studies from The University of Texas – Pan American, and a Doctor of Medical Science from the University of Lynchburg.
Belinda Torres MPAS PA-C, DSC, joined the Wound Management team in early 2020 as a Physician Assistant. She specializes in wound care and treats patients in the clinical and inpatient settings. She obtained her Master of Physician Assistant Studies degree from The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. She holds an undergraduate degree from Texas A&M University and a doctoral degree from the University of Houston.
Belinda is board certified by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA). She is also a member of the Texas Academy of Physician Assistants (TAPA).
Sandy Spencer is a certified office manager with over 35 years’ experience in the medical field. She joined the Wound Management team in 2019.
Wound Management locations:
|DHR-OP WOUND CARE CENTER|
5509 Doctors Dr.
Edinburg, Tx 78572
|Wound Management at Mission|
2009 E. Griffin Parkway
Mission, Tx 78572
Wound Management at Harlingen
1713 Treasure Hills, Ste-2-B
Harlingen, Tx 78550
|Wound Management at Rio Grande City|
2544 Central Palm Dr., Ste 104
Rio Grande City, Tx 78582