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Doctors Hospital opens wound center
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Veteran Doctors Hospital employee of some 24 years, Kathy McKenzie, talks with multi-specialty nurse Ian Sprenger about the hyperbaric oxygen chambers behind them - photo by GLENN KAHL/ The Bulletin

Manteca’s new Wound Center was the focal point of the Chamber of Commerce weekly coffee Wednesday morning and a dream come true for Kathy McKenzie, a longtime employee of Doctors Hospital of Manteca.

There were more than 100 medical and business professionals that attended the coffee and toured the new facility for the 8 a.m. event.

It was five years ago when McKenzie, a  20-year employee, was lobbying the administration for construction of a state-of-the-art facility, but funding was not available at that time, she said. 

Back then she was working a full day and taking care of her aged father during her off hours – taking him to a similar facility in Tracy when she got off work.  Her husband Dave would get home before her and have her dad already in the car for a quick to the Wound Center.

It was some 18 months ago, when as a member of the business development office team, she   urged the hospital once again to build a wound center.  Her boss Scott Knight took the idea to the newly arrived CEO Nicholas Tejeda who bought into the idea and made it happen.

Kathy’s dad, Ed Suchman, who was in his 90s had been suffering from edema along with chronic heart failure and his heart could not pump the fluid out of his legs.

“He would get blisters on his legs the size of softballs,” she said.  “The water would just pour out when they broke.  I love the new center.  It’s a dream come true for my dad – too late for him but it will help others. I only wish my dad were here to see it today.”

The center has two Hyperbaric Oxygen Chambers that allow the treatment of one person at a time.  Blisters like Ed’s and those suffering from diabetes and develop blisters on their legs can be helped by lying in those oxygen-filled chambers that speed the healing process.

The fear of claustrophobia while in the chamber is lessened because the patient is able to see out in all directions and there is always an attendant in the room during the treatment.  For those still feeling anxious about the treatment, a physician can prescribe a medication that will relax them and make the event less challenging.

Patients will only have the sensation of taking off or landing in an airliner when the chamber is pressurized felt on the eardrums like that of diving to the bottom of a swimming pool.  That pressure can be relieved through several methods that a nurse will explain at that time.

The Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy is a medical treatment in which a patient breathes 100 percent oxygen while under pressure in the hyperbaric chamber. Breathing the concentrated oxygen under pressure dissolves more oxygen into the body’s bloodstream which is then delivered to those areas that are having trouble healing due to a lack of oxygen in surrounding tissues.

The conditions that benefit from the therapy include:

A person with diabetes with a wound that is slow to heal or is not healing

Someone with damaged tissue from radiation therapy

A person with a skin graft that has a questionable blood supply

Certain infections of the bone and, or of the skin

Anyone with a wound that has shown no improvement within four weeks

Specifics on the protocol indicate that many patients with diabetes experience a drop in their blood sugar, glucose level, during a hyperbaric treatment.  The Manteca Wound Center staff always checks the glucose level before and after each treatment.  An average treatment lasts about two hours.

Their mission statement reads, “Our Manteca Wound Center is an outpatient program that focuses on chronic and non-healing wounds.  Using advanced treatment methods, we help patients improve the quality of their lives.  In partnership with physicians, nurses and other healthcare providers, we provide invaluable care for patients.”

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is covered by most medical insurance companies inducing Medicare and Medicaid. 

The center is located at 1148 Norman Drive, Suite 1, in Manteca – just east of the Valley Cancer Center and nestled among other medical offices.