Doctors and city officials line up to cut the ceremonial ribbon at the grand opening for the Tower Wound Care Center and Surgical Center on 20th Street on Thursday morning. (photo by Brandon Wise)

MID-CITY — Residents have a new addition to their local healthcare options with the grand opening Thursday of Tower Wound Center of Santa Monica and Tower Surgical Center in St. John’s Medical Plaza.

The brainchild and private venture of Dr. Joel Aronowitz, the centers focus on the use of adult stem cells in both wound healing and surgical procedures.

“Our first goal is to serve the community and take care of unmet needs,” said Aronowitz, the center’s medical director. “Two is … to provide a state-of-the-art surgery facility and provide adult stem cells for both.”

The wound care center administers treatment for problem wounds — ones that remain unhealed after two to three weeks — ranging from small wounds to surgical wounds to bed sores. These types of wounds are more common in the elderly and diabetic, but can plague healthy people with antibacterial-resistant wounds, as well.

“It affects people from the guy on the bus bench to the most famous movie star,” Aronowitz said.

The centers act as both an outpatient facility for wound healing or surgical procedures using stem cells and a clinical lab. In order to procure stem cells, doctors remove fat from a patient, separate the cells out and use them to grow new tissue, Aronowitz said. Research is being done on using these cells to grow tissues in other medical fields, as well, such as cardiology and orthopedics.

Dr. Kazu Suzuki, one of two doctors practicing at the wound care center in addition to Aronowitz, said that stem cell use in the treatment of wounds is still very new, but has promise. This research comes at a time when demand for problematic wound care is higher than ever.

“It’s a new field that flourished really in the last two years,” said Suzuki.

The increased need coincides with longer life expectancies and higher obesity rates. Suzuki said in an older, wealthier community such as Santa Monica, it makes sense for a wound care center to be readily available, especially when patients normally need to be seen once a week for two to three weeks.

Not only are the centers convenient, but, according to City Councilmember Gleam Davis, they fit in with Santa Monica’s sustainability plan. Patients normally treated at Cedars-Sinai no longer have to make the longer drive for medical attention.

“Dr. Aronowitz is doing innovative work in the areas of wound care,” Davis said. “I think having an advanced medical facility is good for people in Santa Monica.”

The centers include two operating rooms, a four-bed recovery room, four examination rooms, and an on-site stem cell facility.

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