By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Amanda L. Kilpatrick, Naval Medical Center San Diego Public Affairs
SAN DIEGO - Project Comprehensive Aesthetic Restorative Effort (CARE) continues to help traumatically wounded, ill and injured active duty service members at Naval Medical Center San Diego (NMCSD).
Project CARE is a multidisciplinary reconstructive program that focuses on aesthetic rehabilitation and offers numerous services such as reconstructive surgery, mental health support and wound care.
“Our mission is to provide emotional support along with surgical and non-surgical care in an effort to improve the appearance, function, and self-esteem of the injured service member,” said Capt. Craig J. Salt, Staff Plastic Surgeon and department head for the Division of Plastic Surgery . “We believe that even the slightest improvement can dramatically increase self-esteem and quality of life.”
Active duty service members are eligible for the program after suffering from trauma related to combat, training accidents, or civilian injuries through a referral from their medical provider.
“Since our program was formally structured in August of 2010, we’ve had more than 130 active patients enrolled in the program,” said Salt. “We’ve treated approximated 400 total patients if you include all of those treated since the start of the war.”
NMCSD is the first military treatment facility to institute a Project CARE program and hopes to coordinate with other facilities to establish a national program for all service members.
“It occurred to me that if we could combine all the different specialties that provide surgical and rehabilitation services and then bring in psychiatric support, we could deliver a better product for our wounded, ill and injured service members,” said Salt.
Project CARE collaborates with the Comprehensive Combat and Complex Casualty Care (C5) program at NMCSD, which focuses on prosthetics, occupational therapy, physical therapy and rehabilitation.
“My vision for the future is to have a very well structured and coordinated team that’s tied to the rehabilitation program at NMCSD and throughout the Department of Defense, so that we in the military can provide comprehensive aesthetic recovery for every single combat casualty in America,” said Salt.
NMCSD Project CARE also provides follow up care for patients uniquely tailored to each member’s injuries and emotional state.
“I think it’s a great program,” said Salt. “I believe that as the programs grows and takes hold we will see the face of rehabilitation change throughout the nation to include aesthetic recovery as a primary rehabilitation goal.”
Salt has been a plastic surgeon at NMCSD since 2003.
For more information about Project CARE, visit http://www.med.navy.mil/sites/nmcsd/Patients/Pages/ProjectCARE.aspx.
For more news from Naval Medical Center San Diego, visit www.navy.mil/local/sd/.