Revolutionary wound care: Local men off to Iceland to learn about new procedure
STEUBENVILLE — A member of East Liverpool City Hospital management and a production team from EM-Media are flying to Iceland today to learn more about using cod skin in the treatment of wounds.
Kerecis Omega3 is intact fish skin rich in naturally occurring Omega3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. When grafted onto damaged human tissue, such as a burn or a diabetic wound, the material recruits the body’s own cells and is ultimately converted into living tissue, significantly speeding the time needed to close an open wound, hospital officials said.
Rick Perez, director of business development at East Liverpool City Hospital; Jim Emmerling, EM-Media president; and a two-member EM-Media production crew will spend the week at Kerecis production facility, gathering information about the unique wound treatment. EM-Media was hired by the hospital to produce promotional material for the treatment.
Perez said Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio has been using the fish skin to treat battlefield burns. He said East Liverpool City Hospital and its parent company, Prime Healthcare, saw no other medical facility in the region using the treatment.
Perez said the pristine conditions in the North Atlantic will be observed during the trip.
Kerecis was established in 2009 as a research project in Isafjordur, Iceland, a town in North West Iceland, 30 miles south of the Arctic Circle and 250 miles north of the capital, Reykjavik.
The Kerecis technology was invented by the company’s founder and chief executive officer, Fertram Sigurjonsson. The Kerecis technology is patented in the United States and more than 40 other countries, according to the company.
Perez said the wound treatment is like a scaffolding for new skin to attach to and cover the wound.
“It is a 40 percent to 50 percent quicker healing process,” he said.
Patients with diabetic-related wounds and burn victims will benefit from the fish skin treatment, Perez said,
He said the current treatment is skin grafts, which can be painful.
“With this process, it is painless. It is applied and wrapped,” he said.
Perez said the process is completed 10 times, with each application showing healing.
Perez said the trip to Iceland will include a look at the history of the product and its development. He said the treatment has been approved here by the federal Food and Drug Administration and is Medicare approved. Perez said other health-insurance providers are looking at the cost-effectiveness of the treatment.
East Liverpool City Hospital has a two-year exclusivity agreement with Kerecis for a 48.5 mile radius around the hospital. That zone includes Pittsburgh.
Perez said East Liverpool City Hospital wants to take wound-care treatment to the next level, which includes 44 other hospitals in the Prime Healthcare network across the country. He said Prime Healthcare has plans to partner with other health care providers.
He said there are a handful of medical centers in the country using the technology, such as the Cleveland Clinic.
“None have gone to the next level of capturing the knowledge of the product and telling its story, features and benefits,” Perez said.
Emmerling said his production crew will film videos for commercials and videos for doctors.
“We are taking the trip to get to know what Kerecis is all about,” he said.
Emmerling said the production material can be used by the other Prime Healthcare facilities.
The group was to leave Boston today for the five-hour flight to Iceland. Then they will have a five-hour drive to the Kerecis production facility.
He said the pristine conditions of the North Atlantic will be a big part of the promotional material.
“We will go out on a fishing boat. I’m a little bit woozy about that,” he said. “We want to show the process and purity of the land and water. It is a trip of a lifetime.”
Kerecis is paying for the trip, Emmerling said.
“It will be a true partnership,” Perez said.
Perez said Kerecis is the largest employer in Iceland.
Using the skin of fish has recently gained national attention in the United States, as it was used to speed up the healing of beer paws burned in last year’s wildfires in California.
East Liverpool City Hospital officials said its wound care center is at the forefront of modern wound care, is excited to bring this advanced technology to the community.
“Our wound care team believes in treating each patient like family and as such, we are driven to provide the most innovative wound care advancements to our patients. We want our community to have access to cutting edge wound care treatment protocols that are offered in larger health systems,” said Amy Cunningham, the hospital’s wound care director.