Concord Hospital Hyperbaric Treatment Program Accredited
A Boost for Patients with Slow-Healing Wounds
Hyperbaric treatment is a crucial component of Concord Hospital’s Wound Healing Center and brings relief to hundreds of area patients with slow-healing wounds. The Center has recently been awarded national accreditation, making it the only center in northern New England to achieve such a level of excellence.
The Center’s hyperbaric treatment facility was accredited in February by the Undersea & Hyperbaric Medical Society (UHMS), recognizing that the Hospital and Center practice the highest level of treatment and patient safety. The Center joins an elite group of similar facilities in the nation.
Hyperbaric treatment, in which patients breathe 100 percent oxygen, is best known for treating undersea divers, but is more commonly used to treat patients facing the potential loss of limbs because of slow-healing, infected wounds.
“In an accredited center, a patient can feel comfortable that all of the staff, all of policies, all of the procedures, and all of the equipment have been examined thoroughly by outside experts and will continue to be reviewed extremely carefully,” said Dr. Joseph Snow, who directs the Wound Healing Center. “Accreditation is not required but it was the right thing to do for the Hospital and for our patients.”
On average, four to five patients are treated daily in Concord Hospital’s two hyperbaric chambers. Most often, they have diabetes and poor circulation that frequently leads to deep foot wounds that resist other treatment. Patients typically lie in a phone booth-sized chamber breathing pressurized 100 percent oxygen for two hours a day, every weekday, for six weeks. The oxygen stimulates the body to grow new blood vessels in an injured area, boosting circulation and promoting healing.
The hyperbaric chambers also are used to help repair tissue damaged by cancer radiation treatments and to treat smoke inhalation, complicated bone or tissue infections, carbon monoxide exposure and scuba diving injuries.
The lengthy UHMS review examined everything from staffing and training to standards of care and the way equipment was installed, operated and maintained. It also included detailed safety plans and continuing drills to ensure safety in an environment at increased risk of fire because of the presence of 100 percent oxygen.
“It’s beyond saying ‘We want to do a good job,’” Dr. Snow said. “The commitment and the necessity to meet standards set by an outside agency causes you to look at every aspect of the care being provided in the Center to ensure it is being done in a safe, reliable fashion.”
In addition to accreditation for the Hyperbaric Center, Dr. Snow is one of only three doctors in New Hampshire board certified for hyperbaric medicine. He has been chosen by New Hampshire Magazine as “Top Doctor” in the field of Wound Care for the last three years. Registered nurse Mabel Niebling is certified in hyperbaric nursing and volunteered for further training as part of the accreditation to become the Center’s safety director. As safety director, she has final authority, based on any safety concerns, over whether any treatment session can begin or should be terminated. Nurse Elizabeth Scott also has completed advanced training in hyperbaric treatments and is working toward certification.
“This isn’t just a job,” Dr. Snow said. “It’s a commitment, it’s a dedication.”
Accreditation is voluntarily, and while not yet widely required by insurance companies, some are beginning to include accreditation as part of their criteria in paying for hyperbaric treatment.