MADISON, Wis. (WBAY)-- A new, state-of-the-art burn and wound center at UW Health in Madison hopes to offer more efficient care to more patients.
Sitting behind a locked door covered in film with the words "NO ACCESS" in bold lettering is a kind of cul-de-sac at the end of one UW Health hallway focused specifically on burn treatment.
"Everybody who walks through these doors needs to be here," said Dr. Lee Faucher, director of the UW Health Burn and Wound Healing Center.
Also a UW Health surgeon, Dr. Faucher led Action 2 News on a tour of the new facility as one of only two news stations in the entire state to get a sneak peek.
"There's probably a patient base that we can care for now because we can be more efficient and have more space to do things that we couldn't do before," said Dr. Faucher.
Michael McKay, director of Planning, Design, and Construction at UW Health, puts the total construction cost of the new facility at $5.8 million. That breaks down to $416 per square foot for the 13,390 square foot burn unit area.
The new space features 11 patient beds for both child and adult burn patients. That number is up from seven patient beds in the old burn center.
Each patient room includes a bathroom with a full shower. It is an improvement from just one shared shower available previously.
Two separate tub rooms in the burn center will also provide additional space for patients to have their burns washed. It is a process Dr. Faucher calls one of the most important in recovery.
"It's huge compared to what the other center was," said Carl Hershey, a burn survivor.
Hershey knows the pain of burn recovery firsthand.
"Thirteen years ago I was a construction contractor working in Iraq," said Hershey. "Through a freak work accident, I was welding and a propane tank ignited behind me, engulfing me in a flame."
That accident left 77-percent of his body burned, with many of those burns evaluated as third-degree.
The La Crosse man spent six months at UW Health recovering, as it is one of the only burn centers in the state.
"I think that's one of the, I think, negative sides of this injury is that sometimes you have to travel and be away from your family and loved ones," said Hershey.
Most burn patients in Northeast Wisconsin also have to travel to Milwaukee or Madison to receive the advanced care they need.
UW Health records show that three people from our area were treated in the burn center there between July 2018 and the end of June 2019.
"I think that's where this new burn center really helps, just the resources available. The pain management is a huge aspect for a lot of burn survivors," said Hershey.
Hershey is leaving his mark on the new facility by donating a Giannis Antetokounmpo jersey given to him by someone who won it at an auction.
"Someone appreciating what I have gone through, I appreciate what everyone goes through from the health care providers to the patients to the families," he said. "So, I think it's something that everyone can enjoy and a little bit of inspiration for all."
The new burn and wound center is expected to open in the mid-March after a year of construction.