West Shore Medical Center unveils hyperbaric oxygen therapy

Until recently, people in the Manistee area, just like Harry Foster, had to travel to either Traverse City or Grand Rapids for the hyperbaric oxygen therapy. The therapy helps heal chronic wounds by delivering 100% oxygen to the infected areas. These areas typically have trouble healing because of a lack of blood in the surrounding tissues.

"It'll be much appreciated here because the big thing was that long trip," says Foster.

Foster used the oxygen based therapy after he started having trouble with circulation in his right leg. His doctor then suggested surgery, which led to amputation of his toes. After that, he continued the hyperbaric treatment for several months to heal his wound. The problem was having to drive from Manistee to Munson Medical Center in Traverse City before the West Shore Medical Center chambers were available. "Wound care has become a very specialized aspect of medicine. With 8% of the population diabetic, someone gets a foot ulcer at sometime in their lifetime. All the radiation we do to treat cancer, all those specific people get wound problems," says Dr. Gregory Bohn with West Shore Medical Center.

Dr. Bohn says wounds in general are becoming an increasing problem especially as people live longer. He says 3-5% of the population will get a wound at some point in their life.

"It's on the same level as colon cancer. So if I'd tell you, you have colon cancer, you'd be very concerned. Those wounds are so important in terms of mortality and morbidity," says Dr. Bohn.

That's when hyperbaric oxygen therapy comes into play.

"Hyperbaric therapy is when the patient sits in the chamber where they breathe 100% oxygen under pressure. It not only saturates the hemoglobin, it also super saturates the plasma and give more oxygen, which drives the healing power," says Dr. Bohn.

This healing process was once a challenge for some people like Foster when it came to major travel time, especially since treatment is usually five days a week. Now the new facility in Manistee is changing all that.

"For every one patient, we had two who just couldn't do that. So, having the chambers here we can treat patients who don't have family who can take them every day," says Dr. Bohn.

For more information about the hyperbaric therapy chambers at West Shore Medical Center in Manistee click here.