CRMC Offers Advanced Therapy with Hyperbaric Oxygen Chambers

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Photo Credit: CRMC Hospital

CULLMAN – Cullman Regional Medical Center may not be as large as UAB, but they are making great strides in investing in new technologies that improve patient care. One such investment was made two years ago in the form of Hyperbaric Oxygen Chambers (HBO). Where patients in the area would have once driven over 100 miles to reach is now in our own backyard.

This highly sought treatment has proven to be one of the most amazing advancements in wound healing and is saving lives every day. Jill Keeton, RN at the CRMC Wound Healing Center and Clinical Coordinator, explained what this equipment can do.

“A Hyperbaric Oxygen (HBO) chamber is a type of specialized equipment used at the CRMC Center for Wound Healing to treat chronic, difficult to heal wounds,” said Keeton. “Treatment consists of a patient lying on a bed and being placed into an atmosphere of 100 percent oxygen. The patient breathes in the pure oxygen, which is then carried throughout the patient’s bloodstream allowing the wounds or damaged areas of the patient’s body to receive large doses of oxygen.”

She went on to say that the HBO Chamber is pressurized, allowing not only the red blood cells to become saturated with oxygen, but also the plasma part of the patient’s blood as well. The combination of 100 percent oxygen and the pressurized chamber allows for better absorption of antibiotics and also aids in the formation of new blood cells, or angiogenesis, to the area of concern.

CRMC first opened the Wound Healing Center in May of 2012 when a partnership was made with the nation’s largest and most successful wound healing company, Healogics. The hospital chose to work with Healogics due to their sterling reputation and being the leaders of the industry.

“Healogics manages over 600 wound care centers nationwide, and recently began opening centers in the United Kingdom,” Keeton said. “Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy has been around for several years and is a proven modality to treat wounds. Our community is certainly lucky to have such advanced treatment options available.”

Keeton and her team have seen many different types of patients benefit from the chambers. The most common types of wounds seen are those stemming from diabetes, radiation and osteomyelitis, or infection of the bone.

“People are most surprised by the benefit of HBO on radiation injuries,” stated Keeton. “These are patients who have had radiation during a course of cancer treatment. Many times during radiation, the tissue or bone that the radiation passes through to get to the cancer may become damaged. Hyperbaric Oxygen helps to heal these areas by promoting new blood vessel growth and eventual healing of the damaged area.”

Those working in the CRMC Wound Clinic have gone through rigorous specialized training at the Healogics facility in Jacksonville, Florida. There they learn not only the principals behind the treatment, but also have extensive knowledge on how to maintain a safe workspace.

“Because the chamber uses 100 percent oxygen, our main concern is fire prevention,” We only allow patients to go into the HBO chamber with approved items, including a gown and a bottle of water for hydration. They are not allowed to wear any petroleum based products such as lotion, deodorants, makeup, etc. Nor are they allowed to wear their street clothes into the chamber.”

The numbers speak for themselves when you look at the healing benefits of this equipment with a healing rate of 98 percent.

“We are very proud of that. I have personally seen some amazing things happen in this center. I have had the pleasure of hearing such great success stories from our patients. One example of this was when we had a gentleman that got to dance with his daughter at her wedding because we were able to help him save his foot. We also recently had a patient who had radiation to his neck and, and as a result, he had a pretty significant hole in his jaw. His pain was so bad that he could only eat through a feeding tube.  By the end of his treatment, he was able to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner again! We are so fortunate to have had a small part of these people’s healing.”

The Wound Healing Center is located on the back corner of Professional Office Building I on the CRMC Campus. The Center is Open Monday throughFriday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. For more information or to set-up an assessment by a Wound Healing Physician, call 256-737-2980.