Intermountain Medical Center’s hyperbaric medicine service offers specialized treatment to patients with chronic wounds, tissue damage from radiation, and certain infections, as well as for emergency conditions such as carbon monoxide poisoning, diving accidents, and gas embolism. The department’s walk-in, 26-ton chamber is ideal for outpatients and can treat up to 8 individuals at a time. Patients who are critically ill and need extensive medical support can be treated in a single-person hyperbaric chamber inside the ICU.
How hyperbaric medicine works
Patients are placed in the chamber and administered 100 percent oxygen at pressure two to three times greater than normal sea level pressure. Hyperbaric oxygen helps the healing process by stimulating blood vessel growth and enhancing the immune system's ability to fight infection. The air we breathe is only 21 percent oxygen. Providing 100 percent oxygen in a pressurized hyperbaric chamber greatly increases the amount of oxygen delivered to body tissues by the blood, which enhances the displacement of carbon dioxide or helps diseased tissues heal.
Advantages of hyperbaric service
Intermountain Medical Center’s hyperbaric service is directed by specialists who have operated the world-renowned hyperbaric program at LDS Hospital for more than 20 years. The Intermountain Medical Center location has both a multi-person chamber and single-person chambers.
The large multi-person chamber offers many advantages over the traditional cylindrical design, including more usable floor space, easier patient transport in and out of the chamber, and increased patient comfort - inside, it looks just like another hospital room. This chamber also has hypobaric, or reduced pressure, capabilities to simulate increased altitude, which will be used for research and evaluating patients who live or travel to altitude.
Operating single-person chambers in tandem with a multi-person chamber is the optimal configuration for a hyperbaric service. The larger chamber ensures sufficient capacity so patients aren't waiting to begin a course of therapy, and the smaller chambers offer flexibility in treatment timing and oxygen dose. The smaller chambers can also be moved into the intensive care units when patients there need hyperbaric oxygen therapy.
Background of the hyperbaric team
The medical director, Lindell Weaver, MD, is nationally known for his research in hyperbaric medicine. The service’s physicians are joined by nurse practitioners, nurses, respiratory therapists, and technicians with an average tenure of 10 years in hyperbaric medicine.
The hyperbaric staff at Intermountain Medical Center continues the tradition of research that has earned the service at LDS Hospital high accolades from physicians across the U.S. Their research has included carbon monoxide poisoning, hyperbaric oxygen in brain injury, and equipment testing and benchmarking in the hyperbaric environment.
The hyperbaric service at Intermountain LDS Hospital and Intermountain Medical Center is accredited through the Undersea & Hyperbaric Medical Society. The service is staffed 24/7 to accommodate patients who need hyperbaric oxygen therapy on an emergency basis.