UNDER THE SEA in the Wound and Hyperbaric Chamber
No, the wound center staff is not dying their hair “Little Mermaid” red; nor are we singing Disney show tunes. Instead, we have added the Hyperbaric Center in the form of two state of the art Sechrist Monoplace hyperbaric chambers in their own specially designed suite. Why the “Under the Sea” theme? The increased pressure during hyperbaric treatments mimics the conditions of being underwater. Many of the terms used in our new department have a scuba theme: depth, dive, feet of sea water, descent, ascent, reach the surface and so on. Our patients dive but they don’t get wet!
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) involves the breathing of pure oxygen while in a sealed chamber that has been pressurized at 1-1/2 to 3 times normal atmospheric pressure. When pure oxygen is under such pressure it not only binds to hemoglobin, it dissolves into plasma leading to hyper oxygenated tissues which lingers for hours after the patient resurfaces. This new specialty opening in September will be primarily for outpatients who have one of the following diagnoses: nonhealing diabetic foot ulcer (Wagner Grade III or higher), chronic refractory osteomyelitis, delayed effects of radiation and compromised flaps and grafts.
Several nurses and physicians have gone through special training that has been approved by our clinical governing body, UHMS (Undersea Hyperbaric Medical Society.) We learned about gas laws, diving mechanics, oxygen safety, clinical indications, risks of diving to name only a few of our intense lectures. We are ready to put it all to work! Keep an eye out for our upcoming open house—the Hyperbaric Center is located on the first floor of the Clatanoff Pavilion, attached to the Wound Center.
-Joan Twigg RN