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News Brief: RLS Hospital Can Treat The Bends Again

April 26, 2005 – After an absence of several months, the hyperbaric chamber at Roy L. Schneider Hospital is back in business. However, only divers with decompression sickness, called the bends, can use the chamber for the time being.
"We're not tooled up for wound care," Dr. David Weisher, a St. Thomas neurologist who oversees hyperbaric chamber activities, said Monday.
He said the chamber still needs a small piece of equipment called a subcutaneous oxygen sensor in order to treat wounds. He said the equipment measures oxygen levels under the skin to tell if the treatment is working.
However, that service should be up and running in another week. Weisher said he's located the part and that hospital staff can fix it for about $1,000. (See "Territory Can't Treat Sick Divers").
Weisher said there were more patients needing wound care in the hyperbaric unit than those suffering from the bends.
"Most wounds are related to diabetes," he said.
He said once the hospital is able to use the chamber to treat wounds, he expects it to be busy.
Steve Prosterman, who runs the unit, said that since the hyperbaric chamber was repaired in early April, there have been no divers needing treatment.
He said the chamber is now in top-notch shape.
Rodney Miller Jr., who serves as the chief operating officer at the hospital, could not be reached for comment.
Vice-president of facilities management and capital developments at the hospital, Daryl Smalls, said in March that it would cost about $12,000 for mechanics from the Miami-based repair company, CompAire, to fix the hyperbaric chamber.

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