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A look inside WNY's only Burn Treatment Center at ECMC

"When you need it, it's here"
Posted at 11:24 PM, Dec 18, 2019

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — A lifesaving facility right here in the Queen City is the Roger W. Seibel, M.D. Burn Treatment Center. It's a small, six bed unit located at ECMC.

"When you need it, it's here," Chief of Surgery at ECMC, Dr. Bill Flynn, said. He continued, "There are other burn units in the country and the state, but we're the only one in Western New York."

Every year, the unit sees about 230 admissions and 1,000 outpatient visits.

"It's a luxury, but not a luxury when you need it. And we're here," Associate Medical Director of the Burn Treatment Center, Dr. Jim Lukan, said.

The unit started in 1989 under the leadership of Dr. Roger Seibel. He taught many that remain on the staff including Dr. Flynn and Dr. Lukan.

"It was always good care I think in this town, but he really founded the team approach of having nurses who were dedicated to it, some of whom are still here," Dr. Lukan said.

Jessica Park-Brooks is one of several nurses in the unit giving both patients and their families hope through the multiple stages of burn care.

"Not a lot of people who can do this work, so the ones like us who are willing to do it, they need us to come back every day," she said.

Kyle Wooten is a Wound Care Tech. A position unique to the Burn Treatment Center.

"I had an opportunity to work here or another position, but decided to come on the burn team and get some training and I loved every minute of it since 1989," Wooten said.

His job comes with an enormous amount of trust. Often he spends time with patients in the Hydrotherapy Suite. A hot, temperature controlled room in the unit with a plastic wrapped bathtub and a shower. Patients must have their wounds cleaned to minimize the risk of any infection to continue healing.

A burn can also mean surgery -- sometimes several. The plan of action differs for every patient.

"We try to be up front at the onset to say this is what we think is going to happen, but we have to wait and see," Dr. Lukan said.

Patients can stay days, others months. Dr. Lukan said the doctors and nurses -- most of whom have been here since the beginning -- work as a family to provide personalized care for their patients.

"There isn't a better job. We see something different every day. The patients are different, the people are great. The nurses are great to work with. The patients are exceptional. The fortitude of the patients that go through these things, it's incredible the things we learn from them," Dr. Lukan said.

The goal for the future of this burn unit is to train the next generation of nurses and physicians to continue specialized care right in our own backyard.

"It's not a scary place. So for us here, this is a very comfortable place. It's a place where good things happen. It's a place where they can start the healing," Dr. Lukan said.