Why Wound Care?
Promoting Healing and Quality of Life
Advances in medical science are helping more people than ever survive serious illnesses. But people who survive heart attacks, diabetes or other chronic conditions may be weakened and less able to heal wounds. Effective wound care is increasingly important in maintaining these patients’ quality of life.
Bay Area Hospital provides a comprehensive outpatient program of evaluation and management. Our on-site physicians have specialized training in chronic wound care and hyperbaric medicine. We work closely with referring and consulting physicians to provide the most appropriate and effective care plan.
Because diabetes afflicts an estimated 11 percent of Coos County’s population, treating diabetic foot ulcers (DFUs) is a big part of the Wound Center’s mission. When DFUs are identified and treated early, the risk of debilitating or life-threatening complications can be dramatically reduced.
To Learn More
Bay Area Hospital’s Wound and Hyperbaric Center treats patients with chronic, non-healing or infected wounds. Our specially trained medical professionals employ a comprehensive toolkit of proven methods to promote healing:
- A total contact cast or boot to “offload” pressure from a foot ulcer
- Debridement to remove dead tissue
- A variety of dressings to promote healing and fight infection
- “Compression wraps” to control swelling
- Referral to a podiatrist or surgeon
- A vascular angiogram to restore blood flow to an extremity
- Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT), in which a patient breathes pure oxygen in a pressurized chamber.
Thriving Under Pressure
What Is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy?
Your body’s tissues need oxygen to function, and injured tissue needs more. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy increases the amount of oxygen your blood can carry, thereby promoting healing while fighting infection. The process works by stimulating the formation of tiny blood vessels — a process called “angiogenesis.”
In hyperbaric oxygen therapy, you breathe 100% pure oxygen, pressurized to triple normal air pressure. Your lungs can gather as much as three times the oxygen they could at normal air pressure.
The word “hyperbaric” comes from two Greek roots:
- “Hyper” means over or excessive, as in “hyperactive.”
- “Baros” refers to weight or pressure, as in “barometer.”
A treatment session in a hyperbaric chamber is sometimes called a “dive,” because the pressurized chamber is reminiscent of a submarine.
Uses of Hyperbaric Therapy
Your doctor may suggest outpatient hyperbaric oxygen therapy for any of the following conditions:
• Certain kinds of chronic non-healing wounds
• Delayed radiation injuries
• Soft tissue or bone infection
• Compromised skin flaps or grafts
• Crush injuries
Top Care, Where You Need It
Purchased in 2014, Bay Area Hospital’s two Sechrist hyperbaric chambers are on par with the best hyperbaric centers anywhere.
The Wound Care and Hyperbaric Medicine Center makes hyperbaric therapy a practical option for local patients. Because hyperbaric therapy often requires weeks of daily treatments, out-of-town treatment is impractical for many patients.
Treating Radiation Damage
Big advances have been made in cancer treatment, including the use of radiation therapy. While radiation treatment saves lives, it also can leave patients with long-term tissue damage.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy has dramatically changed the conventional approach to repairing radiation-damaged tissue. It has been shown to stimulate capillary growth, fibroblastic proliferation, and collagen synthesis in irradiated bone and soft tissue. It is the only therapy known to reverse the vascular compromise responsible for late radiation effects.
Patients with soft-tissue injuries require comprehensive wound management. Pain, nutritional deficiencies, pathologic fractures, and oral cutaneous fistulas are some of the complications from radiating bone and soft tissue. Wounds occurring in irradiated tissue respond extremely well to hyperbaric oxygen therapy.
Accessing Hyperbaric Care
If you’re interested in pursuing hyperbaric treatment, you should consult your family physician or other primary health-care provider.
What To Expect
During your hyperbaric treatments, you’ll lie in a transparent acrylic cylinder, breathing pure, pressurized oxygen. You may experience a feeling of fullness in your ears, much like taking off and landing in a commercial airplane. This sensation can be relieved by yawning.
Each treatment will last about two hours. Healing a chronic wound may require five treatments a week for as long as three months.
You will be able to see and talk to the hyperbaric oxygen therapy technician during your treatment. The chamber also has a television, mounted just outside the hyperbaric chamber.
Keeping You Safe
Because pure oxygen is a fire hazard, you cannot take anything into the hyperbaric oxygen therapy chamber that might cause a spark or fire risk. That means no petroleum-based hair products, no lighters, and no battery-powered devices such as cell phones, video games, or laptops. The basic rule is: If you weren’t born with it, don’t take it into the chamber. We even provide a static-free gown to wear in place of your regular clothes. These precautions assure your safety.
Complications in hyperbaric oxygen therapy are rare, but as with any medical procedure, there is some risk, including:
- Ear injury due to increased pressure
- Temporary nearsightedness
- Seizure due to too much oxygen
Your Wound Care Team
The hospital employs two internal medicine physicians to oversee outpatient wound care and hyperbaric therapy. Like all members of our wound care team, they have undergone specialized training to administer hyperbaric therapy safely and effectively. Several other local physicians also are trained in hyperbaric therapy, to provide physician coverage for vacations and days off.
Dr. Robert W. Hunter
Robert W. Hunter, MD, is board-certified in internal medicine. A graduate of the University of Hawaii’s John A. Burns School of Medicine, he has a special interest in undersea and hyperbaric medicine.
Dr. Peter G. Lund
Peter G. Lund, MD, is a board-certified internist who practiced in California before moving to Coos Bay. He received his medical degree from Mexico’s Autonomous University of Tamaulipas and completed his internal medicine residency at the University of California, Irvine. His practice style emphasizes partnership and communication.
Five Wound Care Certified (WCC) nurses work with the physicians to determine each patient’s treatment plan and to administer treatments. Wound care nurses receive special training and certification.
Our hyperbaric technician is specially trained to operate the hyperbaric chambers, working closely with our physicians and nurses. The technician also ensures safety of the hyperbaric facilities, performing daily safety checks on the two chambers.
Diabetes and Wounds
Diabetic Foot Ulcers
For a person with diabetes, something as simple as a blistered toe may foreshadow a long battle to heal a persistent sore. If a diabetic foot ulcer (DFU) becomes chronic, infections and other complications are common. A DFU can even lead to amputation.
Treatment of DFUs has long been a challenge for medical professionals. Even with expert wound care, complete healing of DFUs in many patients occurs slowly, if at all. The risk of death from unhealed neuropathic ulcers is greater than for breast cancer and prostate cancer combined.
Among the nearly 24 million people with diabetes in the U.S., 15% to 25% will develop foot ulcers in their lifetimes. Of patients with DFUs, 15% will develop bone infections (osteomyelitis), and nearly 16% will require amputation. Nearly half of all unhealed neuropathic ulcers result in death within five years.
Diabetes In America
- About 11 percent of Coos County’s population has diabetes – higher than the national average of 8 percent.
- Nationwide, 23% of people age 60 years and older have diabetes.
- Diabetes is the leading cause of heart disease, nerve damage, stroke, blindness, skin ulcers, impotence, and amputations.
- 9 million Americans suffer from chronic open wounds that can lead to amputation.
- Fifty percent of all lower-limb amputations are diabetics.
- 162,500 diabetics are hospitalized for foot ulcers per year.
- Diagnosed diabetes costs America $174 billion a year in direct medical costs, disability, work loss, and premature mortality.