Health & Wellness

Somerville Hospital Gives Disabled Advocate a Second Chance at Life

Hillsborough resident Evelyn Ramundo spent six months recovering from a flesh-eating infection with specialized treatment at RWJUH/Somerset. Credits: Courtesy RWJUH/Somerset

SOMERVILLE, NJ – What started as an oozing wound for Evelyn Ramundo turned into acute kidney failure, three surgeries, a medically-induced coma, two weeks in the hospital and five months of rehabilitation.

But thanks to the Center for Wound Healing at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset, an RWJBarnabas Health facility, the 45-year-old Hillsborough resident is back to work, volunteering as an advocate for the disabled and bowling each weekend with the Special Olympics.

“I’m very lucky,” she says.

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Ramundo came to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset’s Emergency Department on April 27, 2017 after noticing an infected wound in her groin area. She was diagnosed with necrotizing fasciitis, commonly referred to as a “flesh-eating infection” because it starts as a bacterial skin infection and spreads to the tissue. As a result of the infection, she was in acute kidney failure and doctors considered dialysis treatment. She had surgery that same day performed by Daniel Sadler, MD and two more within a week to clean the infection.

She was administered antibiotics and placed in a medically-induced coma in the hospital’s Critical Care Unit. As her condition improved, she was brought out of the coma, moved from the Critical Care to another patient care unit and then discharged May 10  to an acute care rehabilitation center.

Five days a week for five months, Ramundo was transported to the Center for Wound Healing for hyperbaric oxygen therapy. She spent about two hours each day lying on a stretcher in a glass-enclosed chamber that delivers 100 percent oxygen with increased atmospheric pressure. The high concentration of oxygen penetrates the wound so it kills bacteria and increases tissue growth to promote the healing process.

At first, she was hesitant about lying in the chamber, but the wound center’s staff helped make her comfortable and played music and movies for her to pass the time.

“The air was good for the wounds,” Ramundo says. “I could feel it healing.”

During her visits, Robert Segal, MD, infectious disease specialist, also checked her wound and staff applied advanced wound products to facilitate healing.

In addition to treatment at the Center for Wound Healing, Ramundo underwent daily physical therapy to strengthen her muscles and regain her ability to walk after being immobile during her hospitalization.

She completed her treatment on Sept. 30 and in October began resuming her normal activities. She answers phones at the Community Options office in Hillsborough, where she has worked for the past 17 years. She is also an advocate for the disabled with Somerset County ARC and serves as president of Advocates for Change. On weekends, she competes with the Special Olympics bowling team.

“We thank the Center for Wound Healing for giving Evelyn a second chance,” says her aunt Christine Logan of Monroe Township. “They became like a family to her. The whole team was great.”

Ramundo still has the stuffed bunny with an angel pin that the staff gave her for her birthday, along with a birthday cake.

“They were so good to me,” she says.

“Each year between 5 and 7 million Americans like Evelyn experience some type of chronic wound that just won’t heal with traditional treatment,” Segal said.. “Hyperbaric oxygen therapy has shown to be beneficial for diabetic patients with non-healing ulcers, as well as those with arterial ulcers and other types of wounds that fail to respond to conservative therapy. It can also help conditions without open wounds, such as radionecrosis and osteoradionecrosis, osteomyelitis and idiopathic sudden sensorineural hearing loss.”

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