Sentara Opens Peninsula's First Hyperbaric Oxygen Chamber
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Sentara Opens Peninsula's First Hyperbaric Oxygen Chamber 

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December 2, 2003-Newport News, Va.- For the first time, hyperbaric oxygen therapy will be available to Peninsula residents at a permanent center at Port Warwick Medical Arts.

A new Hyperbaric Oxygen Unit has opened with a specially outfitted, state-of-the-art hyperbaric delivery system safely and effectively treats all types of illnesses with high pressure amounts of oxygen and aids the healing process of disease or damaged tissue.

Patients who suffer from the following can be treated: acute carbon monoxide poisoning, decompression sickness, crush injuries, thermal burns and radiation damage. For diabetics with wounds or chronic ulcers to their feet or lower legs, treatment in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber can enable healing and avoid amputation in many cases.

"This is a great service Sentara is providing to all Peninsula residents," says Harvey Bercowitz, M.D., medical director of the Hyperbaric Oxygen Unit. "To get hyperbaric oxygen treatment, residents were having to drive to Norfolk or Richmond. We've had many requests from Peninsula physicians for such a service. This is just one more way Sentara is providing state of the art services to Peninsula residents."

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy patients enter a pressure chamber and are exposed or compressed with 100 percent oxygen. The pressure within the chamber is approximately twice that of normal atmospheric pressure. This treatment has been shown to heal wounds and ailments that have been unresponsive to other treatments.

A hyperbaric chamber can greatly increase the amount of oxygen that can be delivered to body tissues by the blood. All of the benefits provided by hyperbaric oxygen therapy are the result of this extra oxygen being carried within the bloodstream.

The Food and Drug Administration has approved hyperbaric therapy for the following illnesses or conditions:

* Air or gas embolism
* Carbon monoxide poisoning with/without cyanide poisoning
* Clostridial myonecrosis, also called gas gangrene
* Muscle/soft tissue destruction caused by bacterial infection
* Crush injury, compartment syndrome and other acute traumatic ischemias
* Decompression sickness (the 'bends' for deep sea divers)
* Enhancement of healing in selected problem wounds (like diabetic ulcers)
* Exceptional blood loss/anemia
* Intracranial abscess (pocket of infection inside the brain)
* Necrotizing soft tissue infections (so-called 'flesh-eating bacteria')
* Osteomyelitis (infected bone)
* Delayed radiation injury (soft tissue and bone damaged by radiation)
* Skin grafts and skin/muscle flaps that aren't healing
* Thermal burns

About Port Warwick Medical Arts: This outpatient center features walk-in emergency care offered seven days a week from 7 a.m. - 10 p.m. and an imaging center offering CT, screening mammography, ultrasound, x-rays and bone densitometry. The center also offers access to family practice and internal medicine physician offices, a Cardiovascular Center, physical and occupational therapy, and laboratory services.

For more information, call Public Relations Consultant Ann Keffer at 757-594-1036.

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