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59th MDW opens new hyperbaric medicine facility on JBSA

  • Published
  • 59th Medical Wing Public Affairs

Designed from the ground up to provide outstanding patient care, the 59th Medical Wing’s new, state-of-the-art facility near the San Antonio Military Medical Center on Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston expands the wing’s capability to provide hyperbaric medicine and wound care.


“We are very proud of this new facility and our continued partnership with the Army at the Military Health System’s most productive inpatient facility. With specialized equipment, we will have critical care capability inside the chamber. In essence, the chamber becomes an intensive-care unit room under pressure,” said Brig. Gen. John J. DeGoes, 59th Medical Wing vice commander.


The 13,281 square foot, $13.6 million facility can treat the full spectrum of hyperbaric medicine including advanced wound care. By moving operations adjacent to SAMMC, the only level one trauma center in the Department of Defense, the 59th MDW can work more closely with the Army and Navy to deliver care to more patients.


Hyperbaric oxygen can be used to treat several life-threatening conditions, such as crush injuries, carbon monoxide poisoning, burns, and types of severe infections, explained Col. Michael Richards, undersea and hyperbaric medicine flight commander for the 59th MDW.


“Hyperbaric chamber treatments promote faster healing of hard-to-heal wounds by exposing the body to pure oxygen inside a pressurized chamber. With higher pressure, we can deliver more oxygen and increase oxygenation of the blood and capillary bed density. This leads to faster healing,” he explained.


The facility features a rectangular, six-person multiplace chamber in addition to a single patient or monoplace chamber. Doctors tailor all treatment plans to meet patients’ needs.


“Our patients will be very comfortable in the new facility. We treat most patients in the multiplace chamber which looks like a hospital room instead of a cylinder so patients tend to be more at ease,” Richards said.


The Air Force is the DoD’s lead agent for hyperbaric medicine which has a rich history in San Antonio. As the Navy developed hyperbaric treatments for conditions associated with diving, Air Force Col. (Dr.) Jeff Davis pioneered the use of hyperbaric oxygen for other conditions including burns, wounds, and radiation injury in the 1970s.


“When hyperbaric medicine was in its infancy, San Antonio was a hub for research and innovation. Opening this facility at SAMMC (continues the work) Davis started nearly 40 years ago,” Richards added.


For more information about hyperbaric medicine, call 210-539-8000.