Published on January 29, 2021

Foundation Assists with Upgrades to Alpena Wound Treatment Center

Photo of MidMichigan Health staff and Foundation staff at the Wound Treatment Center.

Chuck Sherwin, president, MidMichigan Medical Center – Alpena; Sally Ann Whitener, Healogics  program director; Jean-Lucien Omekanda, M.D., medical director, Wound Treatment Center; Jacob Straley, A.G.A.C.N.P.-B.C., Wound Treatment Center; Ann Diamond, director, MidMichigan Health Foundation; and Deb Pokorzynski, interim vice president, MidMichigan Medical Center – Alpena, pose for a quick photo in the new remodeled family waiting area in the Wound Treatment Center.

Patients and families utilizing hyperbaric oxygen therapies in the Wound Treatment Center at MidMichigan Medical Center – Alpena will enjoy more comfortable surroundings thanks to a $5,000 grant from MidMichigan Health Foundation. The Center is one of only three in Michigan that offers 24-hour coverage for emergent hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) therapy.

“Since Thunder Bay was designated a National Marine Sanctuary and began attracting divers from across the country, it has been vital that the local Medical Center possess the equipment, along with trained physicians and staff, to treat decompression illness, commonly known as the bends,” said Sally Ann Whitener, program director. “Emergent HBO treatments take at a minimum about three hours. We want our patients’ families to be as comfortable and stress-free as possible while loved ones are being treated. We are grateful to the MidMichigan Health Foundation for helping us improve our space to provide an even better patient/family experience.”

In 2020, the hyperbaric chambers purchased in the early 2000’s were replaced with the latest state-of-the-art versions and now, the waiting room for families of patients being treated has been update with more comfortable arrangements. The room renovations, which took approximately nine months, include new floors, paint, lounge seating, as well as a table with chairs, all giving the room a new level of warmth and comfort.

“We were happy to be in a position to assist,” said Ann Diamond, director, MidMichigan Health Foundation. “At times, we have donors eager to support the Medical Center but don’t have a specific area in mind. These undesignated funds have been used to help with a variety of upgrades to equipment and services. We understood that this seemingly small project would have a big impact – helping to comfort patients and families who were waiting for treatment at our Wound Center.”

In addition to room and furnishing upgrades, Dr. Jean-Lucien Omekanda, medical director of the Wound Treatment Center, donated a new television.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is an intervention in which the individual breathes 100 percent oxygen while inside the chamber pressurized to a pressure greater than sea level. Divers can experience decompression illness from ascending to the surface too quickly after a dive. This causes the nitrogen to form tiny bubbles in the blood and/or body tissues, causing decompression sickness. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy can also be used to help with other emergent conditions such as acute carbon monoxide poisoning and arterial gas embolism. It is also a treatment modality for chronic non-healing wounds on a non-emergent basis.

“The Wound Center team has been able to treat and care for the emergent needs of visiting divers, as well as provide a reliable center of healing to those in our own community when they need us,” said Whitener. “Our clinical team does an outstanding job. We strive for excellence in all we do. I am grateful for the commitment of both staff and providers to be able to provide our emergent HBO program.”

Those interested in more information about the Wound Treatment and Hyperbaric Medicine Center or hyperbaric oxygen therapies may visit www.midmichigan.org/woundcenter or call (989) 356-8075.