New UF Health Wound Care center immerses patients in oxygen
Published: Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 7:06 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 7:06 p.m.
Two hyperbaric chambers sit at UF Health Magnolia Parke like two self-contained vessels, with attached television screens and phones. They are made of clear acrylic so people who “go under” — undergoing oxygen treatments that simulate the oxygen pressure of diving two levels below sea level — can see the world around them.
At a weight of about 3,500 pounds, the hyperbaric chambers had to be forklifted into the new Wound Care and Hyperbaric Center, which opened Thursday afternoon.
While just 20 percent of UF Heath’s patients are likely to be candidates for the treatment for severe wounds, and just half of those will undergo it, having the technology is a huge boon for the wound care UF Health can provide, said Jay Bell, the center’s program director.
Bell added that without the chambers, the hospital had been sending patients with more severe wounds out of network.
The chambers work by pumping out 100 percent pure oxygen. The air we breathe, by contrast, has an oxygen level of roughly 23 percent. The oxygen, in which the patient is submerged and breathing for 90 minutes, helps heal the wounds on site and also stays within the patient’s bloodstream, facilitating ongoing healing by building new blood vessels that replace those that have broken as a result of the wound, Bell added.
The most severe wounds are usually the result of diabetes, ulcers or radiation damage.
Dr. John Caroline, the medical director of the center, said the chambers will be used strictly for these purposes, and not off-label experimental uses for diseases such as ADHD and cerebral palsy. Medicare and most insurance plans cover the treatment.
Treatments typically last for five days a week for one to two months. A laundry list of “don’ts” is posted in the chamber room, advising patients not to do things such as wear street clothes or perfume and makeup — which might conflict with the purity of the oxygen.
Many patients sleep while breathing in so much pure oxygen, Bell said, and their ears often pop in the first few minutes, just as they would in an airplane.
Apart from the chamber room, the new center has five other treatment rooms — two for bariatric patients, since many of the wound patients are obese. Patients treated in these rooms undergo traditional treatments such as artificial skin grafts and wound VACs (vaccum-assisted closure).
Bell said the overall incidence of severe wounds has increased with rising rates of diabetes and obesity.
UF Health partnered with Healogics, a Jacksonville-based company run by physicians that provides wound care consulting services to more than 500 hospitals in the U.S., according to the Healogics website.
Contact Kristine Crane at 338-3119, or email@example.com.