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Wound Care Patient Stories

Healing Before the Holidays with 100 Percent Oxygen

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Ken and Mary Alice Sikora enjoy a summer evening with their grandson

Pure oxygen spurs healing in wounds untouched by antibiotics

Ken Sikora lay in the hyperbaric oxygen chamber, dozing on and off while breathing 100 percent oxygen. With each breath, the oxygen traveled through Ken’s tissues, delivering healing properties to the deep wound in his big toe.

A diabetic with poor blood circulation and feeling in his feet, Ken was unaware that the new boots he received last Christmas were causing an ulcer on his great toe. Mary Alice, his wife of 45 years, was the first to notice the hole in the bottom of his left foot, which was so deep that the bone was visible.

An estimated 30 million Americans suffer from diabetes, and 25 percent of diabetics will develop a foot ulcer in their lifetime. Untreated ulcers can lead to amputations, which can drive up the mortality rate.

For patients like Ken, the outpatient Wound Care and Hyperbaric Medicine Center at UH Parma Medical Center can safely treat and heal wounds and ulcers. Ken endured two courses of IV antibiotics that failed to heal his wound – until he tried hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

“The people at the Wound Care Center are a wonderful caring group of people,” says the Seven Hills resident. “The treatment I received there was spectacular. They treated me as if I was family, it was just really terrific.”

Ken was admitted to UH Parma Medical Center with an abscess on his great toe. A PICC line was placed to administer IV antibiotics over the next month. Discharged from the hospital after 10 days, Ken was referred by podiatrist Jeffrey A. Halpert, DPM, for follow-up care at the Wound Center on the ground floor of Medical Arts Center 2, adjacent to UH Parma Medical Center.

“The Wound Center is the optimal place for multidisciplinary care of patients with chronic, non-healing wounds,” says Dr. Halpert, adding that patients can see a variety of specialists, including doctors and nurses who specialize in the care and treatment of infectious diseases. “It’s really a one-stop-shop, which makes it more convenient for the patient.”

Ken was among the first patients to experience the effectiveness of hyperbaric oxygen in the new monoplace chambers. Located across from the Wound Center in the hyperbaric suite that opened in the spring of 2019, the two pressurized chambers offer privacy and comfort while patients breath in 100 percent oxygen. Once inside the chambers, patients lay down and can sleep or watch television. Staff stays close by to ensure patient comfort.

“Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a great adjunct therapy, which we are excited to offer to our patients in addition to the advanced wound care provided at our center,” said clinical nurse manager Lisa Martinis, RN. “While in the chamber, the patient breathes 100 percent pure oxygen, allowing the blood to carry more oxygen to the body's tissues. This improves microcirculation and also stimulates growth factor production, which stimulates healing.”

Medicare and other insurances have approved coverage for hyperbaric oxygen therapy for many types of chronic, non-healing wounds, including diabetic wounds of the legs and feet, wounds and irritations to the skin and bones caused by radiation therapy such as soft tissue radionecrosis and osteoradionecrosis, bone infections that don’t heal from antibiotics, skin grafts that don’t take, and more. Hyperbaric oxygen is also covered for diagnoses such as crush and traumatic injuries and suturing of severed limbs, acute peripheral arterial ischemia, gas gangrene and more.

“It was two hours out of every day, but the results were phenomenal,” says Ken, who is walking again without any problems. “Those treatments in that chamber really healed the wound beautifully.”

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