Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Diving for Better Health

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Diving for Better Health

Article excerpt

Integris Baptist Medical Center was swimming upstream when it spent $5 million to install a massive hyperbaric oxygen therapy chamber.

Most other hospitals in 1995 were focusing on budget cuts instead of brick and mortar. And the Oklahoma City provider already had an HBO therapy chamber, in operation since 1989. But that one, donated at a cost of $400,000 by the Noble Foundation, was designed only for one patient at a time. The new chamber -- which cost $1 million just to acquire, another $4 million to house -- treats up to 12 patients at one time.

Dr. Herbert Meites, medical director of the Integris Hyperbaric End Wound Care Center, says the expenditure has proven a worthy investment. Since its installation four years ago, more than 500 patients have been treated in the chamber, the state's largest. The original chamber, which was the first in the state, will soon move up to the Bass Integris Hospital in Enid. A chamber treatment is called a "dive" because its atmospheric pressure is similar to that of a deep-sea dive. Integris patients have made more than 10,400 dives since it was installed in March 1995, to a total "depth" of 188,175 feet -- about 35 miles, or five times deeper than the deepest part of the Pacific Ocean. To accomplish that, the chamber has been filled and refilled with more than 75 million cubic feet of air -- enough to fill the Goodyear blimp more than 300 times. The chamber has used almost 1.5 million cubic feet of oxygen -- enough to fill 20 hot air balloons. Patients in a dive breathe 100 percent pure oxygen, increasing the oxygen in their blood about six times the normal amount. This improves healing treatments for a wide range of common and uncommon problems, such as nonhealing diabetic wounds, carbon monoxide poisoning, gas gangrene, progressive severe infections such as necrotizing fasciitis (flesh-eating bacteria), crush injuries from trauma, diving accidents, decompression, nonhealing wounds from radiation therapy, osteomyelitis (infected bone) that does not heal through conventional treatment, burns, skin grafts and air embolism. …

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