LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Hope you're not claustrophobic, because in today's episode of 'Wear the Gown,' we're sending you on a short trip. We're taking you inside a hyperbaric chamber, in hopes you never really have to go here.
These chambers are the focal point for the CHI St. Vincent Wound Care Center.
“It incorporates many aspects other than simply looking at a wound and changing the dressing," doctors at CHI St. Vincent said.
They get the call when healing a wound needs something extra.
“I think it's somebody that needs more than standard care. Somebody that fails to respond in the standard way.”
This is where the hyperbaric chamber can come into play.
“It's 100 percent oxygen, under pressure,” they said.
The goal is the growth of new blood vessels which helps rejuvenate injured tissue and healthy skin. But keep in mind, only about five to 10 percent of the center's patents ever need it.
“But honestly most of our patients have an underlying chronic condition which impeded the ability to heal normally in the first place,” they said.
Long, periodic treatment schedules are needed to fight their number one enemy: diabetes.
“Most of the diabetic foot ulcers are on the pressure bearing surfaces of the foot,” they said.
Even with hyperbaric chambers, treatments may take months, but it's worth it.
“The alternative is immediate amputation,” they said. “You know we're saving their foot but we're also prolonging their life in that process.”
They have a hospital full of specialists that can then come into play in correcting the underlying problem that caused that wound in the first place.
“If someone has fallen through the cracks somewhere else, they can come here,” they said. “We will coordinate their care.”
These are chambers of hope.
The Wound Care Center is adjacent to the main hospital on the CHI St. Vincent campus here in Little Rock. The hyperbaric therapy is now so common -- that Medicare covers over 15 procedures using those chambers.