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Ready to Give Up

Man Finds Hope & Healing at Wound Center

After 21 surgeries in three months following a life-threatening rupture of his abdominal aorta, James Morelli left Ohio and came home to Calvert ready to give up. At the Center for Wound Care at CalvertHealth, he found healing and perhaps, more importantly, he found hope.

“In the winter of 2022, I was pushed into the wound center in a wheelchair, attached to drainage tubes, anticipating an early end to my once active life,” said Morelli. “Six months later, I walked out on the strength of my own rehabilitated legs, free from tubes and cords, with a hope for the future that I thought was permanently lost. They truly helped to save my life.”

The 62-year-old father of three girls was working on a solar farm construction project in Ohio when the rupture (which involved many blood vessels in his stomach and abdomen) occurred. “I was in so much pain all the time, I pleaded with the doctors there to let me die.” Desperate after all the surgeries, he called a lifelong friend to drive him home against medical advice where he planned to die peacefully in his Chesapeake Bay home.

When you fall in life, your family catches you and stands you back up.

In a very real sense, Morelli said he found family at CalvertHealth’s wound center. “They provided me with warmth and caring … a sense of security and comfort … and the support I needed to get back on my feet. They treated me like family.”

Wound Team’s Upbeat Spirit Encouraged Recovery

“Greeting our patients with a smiling face, a confident manner and a calming voice is a critical part of what we do,” said nurse practitioner Aldene Doyle-Colvin, DNP, WCC, EDS-C, who directs the wound center. “When they come to us, they are scared and in pain.

“We do everything we can to make them feel more comfortable and secure,” she added. “If there is a smile on the patient’s face when they arrive or I hear laughter coming from the treatment rooms, I know we have made a difference. This gives me purpose.”

Morelli clearly recalls his first visit. “I did not have a positive outlook and I certainly did not look good. But from day one, I felt more encouraged when Dr. Doyle and Diann put their arms around me and said: ‘You are our family now.’

“They approached my care with an intelligence and compassion that I will never forget. Their consistently upbeat personalities, reassuring language and earnest investment in my care helped reframe my outlook on possibilities for a fulfilling life after this medical nightmare.”

Wound Care Plan Tailored to Patient’s Unique Needs

“Wound care management is holistic and must be tailored to each patient,” stressed Dr. Doyle. “Mr. Morelli’s wound was complex and required specialized equipment and coordinated care involving skilled nursing, home health, physical therapy and later on, plastic surgery.”

Because of the size and severity of his wound, Morelli initially had a wound vac, a negative pressure device used on patients with chronic wounds. It helps promote healing by draining excess fluid, reducing swelling, increasing blood flow to the wound and drawing together wound edges. His treatment involved a thorough cleaning, debridement (removal of damaged tissue) and dressing change twice a week.

“It was a painstaking process, but they were always so kind and caring and positive,” said Morelli. “They would take measurements and say: ‘It’s getting smaller. It looks good.’”

When needed, the wound center connects patients with nutritional counseling, diabetic education and financial counselors. They also provide resources for diabetic foot care and assistance with ordering supplies and durable medical equipment as well as family and caregiver education.

Morelli went on to add, “The entire wound care team was very friendly. They took a genuine interest in my story and made lasting connections with visiting family. They repeatedly recalled details of my interests and my loved ones. They laughed with me.”

Today, his wound is closed and he has been discharged but Dr. Doyle said, “He knows that the wound center is here if and when he needs us.” For his part, Morelli said he is once again looking forward to life.

Free Preventive Vascular Screening Offered

The most common forms of vascular disease are abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA), carotid artery disease and peripheral vascular disease (PAD) – all serious and life-threatening, often occurring “silently” without any symptoms. For this reason, early detection and treatment are crucial.

CalvertHealth offers a free preventive vascular screening for those 50 and older with one or more of the following risk factors: smoking, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol or a family history of vascular disease.

Three simple tests are performed:
  • Carotid Artery Screening – An ultrasound to evaluate narrowed arteries and plaque build-up, which can increase the risk of stroke.
  • Abdominal Aorta Aneurysm (AAA) Screening – An ultrasound to screen for dilation or enlargement of the abdominal aorta.
  • Ankle-Brachial Index (ABI) – Screening to check for PAD, which may pose a threat to the health of the legs and is often a sign of heart disease.
The screening is available to those persons who are not currently being followed by a vascular doctor or had any vascular screening performed. Pre-registration is required. Please call 410.414.4539 to make an appointment.
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