- A group of people in a room - Therapy
The hyperbaric oxygen chamber at Mariners Hospital is a large cylinder with clear viewports, comfortable seating and standing room. CONTRIBUTED

After enduring four years of chronic pain and swelling and multiple surgeries and therapy sessions to treat his foot injury, Keys resident and Mariners Hospital Imaging Director, J.C. Holmes, is finally getting relief, thanks to hyperbaric oxygen therapy sessions at Mariners Hospital. 

While receiving treatment in the hyperbaric oxygen chamber, patients like Holmes are completely immersed in 100% oxygen delivered at high pressure. The process greatly increases the level of oxygen in the bloodstream, which speeds healing, helps fight infection, eliminates toxic substances and provides other health benefits.

Mariners Hospital has the only hospital-based hyperbaric chamber in the Florida Keys. The clinical team often utilizes the therapy to treat decompression sickness—a hazard of scuba diving also known as “the bends,”— as well as other conditions such as serious infections, bubbles of air in the blood vessels and wounds that won’t heal as a result of diabetes or radiation injury.

“When tissue is injured, it requires even more oxygen than normal to heal and survive,” said Scott Fowler, manager of hyperbaric medicine at Mariners Hospital. “We take over when traditional wound care doesn’t work.”

The treatment protocol for Holmes’ L-shaped foot injury consisted of 30, two-hour sessions in the hyperbaric oxygen chamber. The chamber’s large size enabled Holmes to relax, sleep, watch TV or talk with his hyperbaric therapist while receiving treatment.

“The team at Mariners Hospital was wonderful,” he said. “You are in a very intimate setting, and they put you at ease. They helped with any questions or anxiety I had and walked me through every step.”

Within the first 10 days of treatment, Holmes noticed a decrease in pain and swelling.

“This is the first year out of the last five that I have lived relatively pain-free,” he said. “Now, every time I peddle a bike pain-free, I think of how thankful I am to the hyperbaric medicine team.”

 - A man standing in a room - Mariners Hospital
Kathi Merriman, registered nurse, monitors patient J.C. Holmes. CONTRIBUTED
 - A man and a woman sitting on a chair - Clinic
Scott Fowler, manager of Hyperbaric Medicine at Mariners Hospital, and Kathi Merriman, registered nurse., review results. CONTRIBUTED

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