Conemaugh Meyersdale Begins Lymphedema Services

May 31, 2018

Photo:  Chellie Hurt, OT/L, CLT, has begun seeing patients at Conemaugh Meyersdale Medical Center in need of lymphedema services.

Conemaugh Meyersdale Medical Center is pleased to announce the addition of lymphedema services offered through its Rehabilitation Services Department. Chellie Hurt, an occupational therapist and certified lymphedema therapist, is providing the service to help patients manage lymphedema or lymphatic obstruction.

Lymphedema is a long-term condition where excess fluid collects in tissues causing swelling. The lymphatic system is a part of the circulatory system and vital for immune function. Lymphedema is caused by a blockage of this system through surgery, radiation, malignant tumors, trauma, infection, chronic venous insufficiency, obesity, and filariasis.

Lymphedema commonly affects one of the arms or legs. In some cases, both arms or both legs may be affected. Some patients might experience swelling in the head or chest. A high number of patients who have had breast cancer surgery / treatment also suffer from lymphedema.

According to Hurt, lymphedema is a chronic condition that has no cure. However, with proper attention, this disease can be managed. “The treatment for lymphedema at Conemaugh Meyersdale is complete decongestive therapy. We want to remove the fluid,” said Hurt. Typical therapies include massage, skin care, multi-layer bandaging, home exercises, and being fit for long-term customizations like socks or sleeves.

Hurt also states that she will work closely with the Conemaugh Meyersdale Wound Healing Center as many stubborn wounds are caused by lymphedema. “Patients in our community are fortunate to have a skilled wound center. To effectively treat some patients, we will coordinate our efforts to heal wounds and better control their lymphedema.”

“We’re very excited to offer lymphedema services at Conemaugh Meyersdale,” said Heather Smith, chief executive officer of Conemaugh Meyersdale. “Lymphedema is not a program that is commonly offered.  We are very fortunate to have Chellie providing this needed specialty in southern Somerset County.”

Lymphedema treatment is typically covered by most health insurances, including Medicare and Medicaid. A prescription is needed from the patient's primary care physician. For more information about Conemaugh Meyersdale lymphedema services, contact the Rehabilitation Services Department at (814) 972-6917.