Great steps forward

Published 9:48 pm Tuesday, February 19, 2013

With two major health care providers vying for patients in Suffolk, the city continues to reap the benefits of a competitive medical climate. New health care facilities are being built along Godwin Boulevard and Bridge Road to serve the city’s growing population, and new services are being offered in doctors’ offices, laboratories, hospitals and emergency clinics all around the city.

Among the newest and most exciting of those services is one that has been offered at Sentara Obici Hospital since September, when the hospital installed a hyperbaric chamber.

In the hyperbaric chamber, patients are exposed to pressurized, 100-percent oxygen. The chamber is useful for treating wounds that haven’t healed, poor circulation, some types of infections, compromised grafts or flaps from plastic surgery and emergencies like carbon monoxide poisoning, among other conditions. The extra oxygen helps inhibit the growth of bacteria, decrease swelling and promote the growth of tiny blood vessels.

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Cancer survivors and others whose wounds stubbornly refuse to heal find the chamber especially therapeutic, and many report remarkable improvements in as few as 10 or as many as 60 treatments.

With the prospect of needing up to 60 visits to the chamber, Sentara patients from Suffolk are cheering the fact that they no longer have to travel to the company’s health care facilities in Newport News or Norfolk to get the specialized treatment.

It’s just one more example of the great steps forward that are being taken in the area of medical care and availability in Suffolk and the rest of Western Tidewater.