POCATELLO — The Wound Center at Portneuf Medical Center was recognized for clinical excellence for the fourth year in a row, and the application of hyperbaric treatment continues to grow because, as Kaye Hunter of Pocatello can attest, it works.
Hunter is diabetic, and she received hyperbaric treatment to heal a bone infection brought on by the disease. The malady, known as Charcot foot, is common in diabetics. It’s painful and accompanied by ulcers on the foot.
“They tried just about everything else available,” Hunter said. “It feels like I’m walking on softballs all the time.”
In conjunction with IV antibiotics, Hunter received 15 hyperbaric treatments to heal the quarter-sized wound on her foot.
Hyperbaric, or oxygen therapy, requires the patient to be placed inside a tank where pressurized oxygen is pumped in.
Hunter admits that she was skeptical about being in the tank, but she said she adapted quickly.
“It’s very comfortable, like being in your own bed,” Hunter said. “You can watch TV or listen to music or just nap.”
Since starting the hyperbaric sessions, Hunter said her psoriasis is also improved.
Wound specialist Jared Price said not all patients qualify for oxygen treatment, but for complex wounds like as diabetic ulcers, arterial ulcers, surgical wounds and chronic infections, hyperbaric treatment has proven beneficial.
Becky Ashmore-Sanchez, vice president of Healogics, said the Wound Care and Hyperbaric Center at PMC was one of 20 facilities nationwide to earn the Center for Excellence award.
Ashmore-Sanchez said Healogics operates 700 hyperbaric centers in the U.S.
In 2014, the Wound Center at PMC reported a 92 percent patient satisfaction rating, a wound healing rate of more than 91 percent and a 30-day average wound healing time.
Medical Director Julio Vasquez said the center is staffed by four doctors, three nurses and a physician’s assistant.
Since opening in 2010, the Wound Center has treated about 360 patients each year.
Vasquez said hyperbaric treatment increases oxygen intake.
“Outside the chamber, we are breathing 21 percent oxygen, but once inside the hyperbaric chamber we breathing 100 percent oxygen, which promotes tissue growth,” he said.