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Crews deliver the second of two hyperbaric chambers to Sanford Bemidji Medical Center on Thursday morning. Bethany Wesley | Bemidji Pioneer

Sanford installs hyperbaric chambers; only sixth facility in state to offer services

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BEMIDJI — A large crane ushered in a new chapter in Sanford health care Thursday morning.

The crane carried in two hyperbaric chambers that will be used in the new Sanford Bemidji Wound Care and Hyperbaric Center.

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The founding of the new department, located on the second floor of the hospital’s new orthopedics and sports medicine center, makes Bemidji the sixth Minnesota location to offer hyperbaric oxygen therapy. There is none in North Dakota, according to Sanford.

Bradley Walker, manager of the Sanford Bemidji Wound Care and Hyperbaric Center, said the new center will be key in providing care for the region’s numerous diabetic patients.

There are about 16,000 diabetics in the six-county region and about 2,000 have chronic wounds because of their diabetes, he said.

Walker said chronic wounds often do not get enough oxygen to the tissue area; the hyperbaric chambers, under pressure, deliver oxygen and saturate those areas to speed recovery.

The therapy can be used for patients suffering from the following conditions: air bubbles in blood vessels, decompression sickness, carbon monoxide poisoning, chronic wounds, a crushing injury, gangrene, skin or bone infection that causes tissue death, radiation injuries, burns, skin grafts or skin flaps at risk of tissue death and severe anemia.

The new center, in planning for about two years, is slated to open Nov. 4.

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