TRINITY — As Pasco’s population ages, more baby boomers may need help with wounds that are slow to heal. So the Center for Wound Care and Hyperbaric Medicine at Medical Center of Trinity has added two hyperbaric chambers to aid in diabetic care.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy, or HBOT, allows a patient to breathe pure oxygen while under pressure in a hyperbaric chamber, Luis Ramos, medical director of the center, said.
The patient breathes in the higher concentration of oxygen into the lungs, Ramos said. The treatments push oxygen into the body’s blood plasma that can transfer higher amounts of oxygen than hemoglobin might carry.
Each outpatient session in the chamber usually lasts about two hours, Ramossaid. The typical regimen prescribes 40 treatments in all.
The chamber recreates the same pressure that a diver might experience 33 feet under the surface of water, according to Sharon Owen, a registered who is program director for the center. The technical term for the pressure inside the chamber is 2 atmospheres.
The new units arrived Dec. 3, Owen said. Many patients are eligible for Medicare assistance in paying forHBT.
The hospital continues to add more specialized care departments, spokeswoman Mary Sommise noted. Cardiac, vascular and now wound care services are offered. The hospital has plans to add open-heart surgery.
Technician Bethany Lillard, a licensed pratical nurse, posed as a patient so that Ramos and Owen could demonstrate how the chambers work.
A highly trained staff is required to prep the patient and monitor the treatments, Ramos emphasized.
For instance, a patient’s ears must be checked before treatments so there’s no wax buildup. The oxygen chamber often makes ears of a patient feel much like the conditions of an airplane taking off.
No synthetic fibers are allowed to prevent accidental sparks. So patients must wear special gowns before entering a hyperbaric chambers.
Some patients might become claustrophobic at first, but the glass walls of the chamber allow patients to see surroundings all around. Owen said she finds MRI treatments much more confining than a hyperbaric chamber.
A television set is mounted outside on top of the chamber to help patients relax inside the chamber. Many patients often use the time to doze off for a nap, Owen observed.
The hyperbaric treatments can be especially beneficial for a person with diabetes and a wound that is slow to heal, or is not healing. Someone with damaged tissue from radiation therapy also stands to gain. A person with a skin graft that has a questionable blood supply can seek help.
Infections of the bone or skin often respond to the oxygen treatments.
Generally anyone with a wound that has shown no improvement in four weeks should consult doctors.
For more information, call the Wound Care and Hyperbaric Medicine unit at (727) 834-4450.
Medical Center of Trinity is a 236-bed hospital with all private rooms. For information go online to www.medicalcentertrinity.com, call (727) 834-4000 or follow on Twitter and Facebook.