By Hub City Times staff
MARSHFIELD – Marshfield Clinic has unveiled its newest tool for treating patients.
On May 4, the clinic held a ribbon-cutting celebration for its new Center for Hyperbaric Medicine and Tissue Repair.
Dr. Michael Caldwell will oversee the center’s work, and it utilizes oxygen as a medicine to treat chronic, non-healing wounds.
“We normally breathe oxygen at about 21 percent in the air, but with hyperbaric oxygen, we breathe it at 100 percent and we breathe it at higher than normal atmospheric pressure,” he said. “Think of it as packing more oxygen molecules into every breath you take. So, this increases not only the amount that is in each breath and in the lung, it also increases the amount that is in the blood stream.
“Injured tissue, radiated tissue, wounded tissue has a very minimal amount of oxygen in the tissue itself. The difference between what is in the blood stream and what is actually in the tissue, that gradient actually causes new blood vessels to grow into that area,” which he said helps heal wounds and the white cells kill bacteria.
Dr. Caldwell says Marshfield Clinic developed its hyperbaric medicine program nearly seven years ago to augment medical and surgical wound care and for patients. The program has grown into the only service between Milwaukee and the Twin Cities capable of caring for critically ill patients needing this specialty care.
There are just seven of these treatment chambers currently in the United States, and while the new facilities accommodate 10 patients – the same number as the previous facility – the treatment time is cut from 12 hours to two hours, allowing the clinic to accept more patients.
Dr. Caldwell said the new center’s tissue repair technology also cuts wound-healing time in half.
The hyperbaric chamber facility is located on the north side of the clinic’s East Wing, and it’s the first of its kind to integrate wound care, wound surgery, and hyperbaric medicine in one facility. The new center opens to patients May 7.