Eight million Americans suffer from chronic wounds. Now, those patients in our region have a new treatment option. LECOM opened a state-of-the-art wound care facility at Millcreek Community Hospital on Tuesday.
The hospital is now equipped with two hyperbaric chambers that use high pressure and a 100 percent oxygen environment to increase blood flow to a patient's wounds. This speeds up the healing process.
Studies show that clinics using these devices deliver treatment success rates of higher than 90 percent. But because of costs, the facilities are still relatively rare.
"That's why it's not commonly seen. You can't just go and start a hyperbaric clinic without significant time and money, and investment in human resources," said Dr. James Lin, Director of the LECOM Institute for Successful Aging.
But $1.1 million and six months of later, the wound center is open. LECOM hopes the center will help restore quality of life to many long-suffering patients.
"In a lot of patients that we know, they don't like to go out because of their wound. And that obviously impacts them socially, and eventually leads to depression. That leads to overall health decline," said Lin, specifically referring to symptoms such as continuously draining or odorous wounds.
The treatment options provided by the new facility is non-invasive. Patients lay in the clear, acrylic chamber and can watch TV as they are treated with pure oxygen at high pressure. Doctors say the sensation is comparable to the pressure change when flying in a plane.
"Anybody who has chronic wounds - you don't have to live with chronic wounds any more. Our goal is to be able to help you get back on your feet and hopefully optimize your function and hopefully improve your quality of life," Lin said.
The first patient was treated at LECOM's wound center at 11am on Tuesday.