HCMC’s first HBO “veteran” on hand for installation day

by Hennepin Healthcare

Weighing in at 60 tons, HCMC’s new 48-foot long hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) chamber arrived at about 9:45 p.m. on Wednesday, November 16. On Thursday morning, it was unloaded from the truck and placed inside the 10,278-square foot addition to the Purple Building.

New hyperbaric chamber waiting to be placed in its new home.

Dr. Cheryl Adkinson and Dr. Ernie Ruiz

Dr. Cher Adkinson, Medical Director of Hyperbaric Medicine, and Dr. Ernie Ruiz, former Chief of Emergency Medicine, were on hand to see the new HBO chamber and take a behind-the-scenes tour of the new addition. Dr. Ruiz was an early advocate of hyperbaric medicine, and he reminisced about the early days of the current chamber and when he and Dr. John Haglin, assistant chief of surgery, participated in its first test dive.

“We were the guinea pigs, so to speak,” said Dr. Ruiz, “When the old chamber was delivered, it was all set up and ready to go using meters and gauges, but no one had actually taken a dive in it. Dr. Haglin and I dove in it to the maximum usable depth of 6 atmospheres to make sure everything worked, then we came back up. It was a brief dive, but it had to be done. We wanted to show that it was safe.”

Dr. Ruiz and Dr. Adkinson watch as crews unveil the new chamber.

Dr. Ruiz is excited about the new chamber and gives accolades to Dr. Adkinson and her staff, including retired nurse manager Jan DeRoche, for championing hyperbaric medicine at HCMC. “The chamber is a huge asset for the entire state. It saves lives, and is an invaluable resource.”

HCMC currently has the only multi-chamber hyperbaric oxygen facility in the state that’s used for 24/7 emergency treatment of critically ill patients; usually victims of carbon monoxide exposure. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is also used for treatments including radiation injuries, diabetic ulcers, chronic wound healing, and the HCMC chamber is used for research showing promise for patients with a traumatic brain injury.
The new hyperbaric chamber and wound healing center will open in the Spring of 2012.

Fox 9 and KARE 11 News crews covered the arrival and installation of the chamber on their news programs throughout the day on November 17. Go to www.hcmcnews.org to see some of the coverage.