Sentara opens first hyperbaric oxygen chamber in Western Tidewater
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Home News News Archives 2012 Archive Sentara Opens First Hyperbaric Oxygen Chamber in Western Tidewater

Sentara Opens First Hyperbaric Oxygen Chamber in Western Tidewater 

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Suffolk, VA (September 26, 2012) Sentara enhances wound care for Western Tidewater residents by adding the first hyperbaric oxygen unit in Suffolk, Virginia. Now open at Sentara Obici Hospital, the new hyperbaric oxygen therapy unit adds to the existing wound care services at the hospital. Sentara offers hyperbaric oxygen therapy at three centers across Hampton Roads including the existing sites at Sentara Leigh Hospital in Norfolk and the Sentara Port Warwick campus in Newport News.

With the new hyperbaric oxygen therapy unit in Suffolk, the full continuum of wound care is now offered at Sentara Obici Hospital—from basic wound care to the treatment of more complex wounds and other illnesses often associated with diabetes, vascular disease, or prior exposure to radiation therapy used to treat cancer.

The new 2-bed hyperbaric oxygen unit is outfitted with state-of-the-art systems to safely deliver pure oxygen to tissue that may lack blood flow. While in pressurized chambers, patients breathe 100 percent oxygen to help speed healing of wounds and tissue.

Following nationally accepted guidelines, hyperbaric therapy can also be used with patients who suffer from carbon monoxide poisoning, decompression sickness, bone infections, compromised skin grafts or flaps, and crush injuries. This treatment is at times used for necrotizing soft tissue infections—the resulting wounds from flesh eating bacteria.

“We’re offering services to Western Tidewater residents in who no longer have to travel far distances to undergo hyperbaric treatment for conditions that make it hard enough to get around. We work closely with our colleagues in the community to help with the multi-disciplinary approach needed to heal these challenging cases,” says Charles S. Graffeo, M.D., medical director of the Sentara Hyperbaric Medicine Program.

Physicians and nursing staff at Sentara hyperbaric therapy centers undergo specialized training to recognize and treat individuals most likely to benefit from hyperbaric therapy while providing the highest levels of safety and patient comfort. This team collaborates with the Sentara Wound Care Program to provide a full continuum of care to patients who need more complex treatment to heal their wounds.

The Sentara hyperbaric therapy centers use evidence-based protocols approved by the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society to identify patients who will most likely respond to this therapy.

How does hyperbaric medicine work? Hyperbaric oxygen therapy provides an environment to increase wound healing. While patients lay in clear pressurized chambers, they breathe 100 percent pure oxygen usually for about 90 minutes. This treatment provides high levels of oxygen to tissues that may lack blood flow because of diabetes, vascular disease or radiation. The added oxygen can help decrease swelling around wounds and promote the growth of new blood vessels to assist in wound repair.

During treatment, physicians and nurses monitor and communicate directly with patients through an audio system built into the chamber. Patients have access to a television to help pass the time. Most patients are treated Monday-Friday. Treatments can be few or up to 60 for the most complex cases.

“Many of our patients are referred after other treatments have failed, and it is very satisfying to help make a difference by saving a limb or improving the quality of life of a former cancer patient. Our staff is sensitive to every patient’s needs and eases fears for those who may be seeing this technology for the first time,” Dr. Graffeo.

New Saline Mist Therapy Enhances Would Healing
The Sentara Wound Healing Center at Sentara Obici Hospital has also added a new mist therapy system to help heal wounds from the inside out.  A unique treatment—MIST® Therapy relies on the soft waves of ultrasound to help stimulate healing in chronic wounds. A deep tissue injury like a bed sore can be treated even before the wound breaks the surface of the skin. The gentle saline mist helps reduce cell inflammation, improve circulation, and reduce bacteria to allow healing to begin. Patients say the treatment is painless. 

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