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Fulton County hospital opens new Wound Care Services Center

April 01, 2013|By JENNIFER FITCH | waynesboro@herald-mail.com
  • Beth Lopez demonstrates aspects of a new hyperbaric oxygen chamber at Fulton County (Pa.) Medical Center. Lopez is director of the hospital's new Wound Care Services Center.
Photo by Jennifer Fitch

McCONNELLSBURG, Pa. — People who have suffered dog bites, diabetic ulcers, thermal burns from radiation or carbon monoxide poisoning are getting another treatment option at Fulton County (Pa.) Medical Center.

The medical center celebrated its new Wound Care Services Center and hyperbaric oxygen chamber Monday. The wound center plans to serve an assortment of patients, including individuals with spider bites, oral cancers, surgical wounds that are not healing and gangrene.

“There are a variety of conditions it can treat,” Beth Lopez said, adding that emerging research indicates hyperbaric oxygen therapy can benefit autism, stroke and dementia patients.

Lopez is director of the Wound Care Services Center, which will start taking patients full time in early May. She described the center as a tranquil place designed to benefit patients emotionally and physically.

“We want to nurture all their needs,” she said.

Various rooms in the wound center, which is part of the medical center, have stretchers, beds and chairs designed to accommodate wheelchair-bound or arthritic individuals. It has designated areas for linens that will be laundered separately from others at the hospital.

“All our linens have to be washed separately and be HBO (hyperbaric oxygen) certified,” Lopez said.

The featured element of the Wound Care Services Center is the hyperbaric chamber, where patients will each remain for about two hours. The environment in the chamber, which had clear sides, contains 100 percent oxygen, and patients can watch a television and communicate with technicians while they are inside.

The first oxygen chamber was developed in 1662, Lopez said.

Today’s chambers so closely mirror the effects of scuba diving that technicians are required to undergo underwater diving training. A patient’s time spent in the chamber is called “a dive.”

The Wound Care Center will employ a nurse practitioner, two hyperbaric oxygen therapy technicians and a variety of physicians.

Fulton County Medical Center CEO Jason Hawkins said a community survey indicated some residents were traveling an hour each direction a dozen times for hyperbaric oxygen treatments. Some stopped in the middle of their treatment cycle because of the inconvenience.

“We really thought this would be a tremendous benefit,” Hawkins said.

Similar centers are available at Chambersburg (Pa.) Hospital and Meritus Medical Center in Washington County, according to Lopez.

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