The renovations were needed because the site was nearing its maximum capacity for treating patients, he said. The center treats about 800 patients a year at its Springfield center and 350 at its Urbana location.
The key improvement was the addition of a third hyperbaric chamber, used to treat patients with chronic wounds. The chamber, which took up the biggest portion of the renovation funding, exposes patients to oxygen at greater than normal pressure.
The process allows patients to be exposed to oxygen in parts of the body where it might otherwise be difficult to reach and changes the way the body absorbs the oxygen molecule, Merick said, sometimes improving the healing process.
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Patients being treated are enclosed in a thick plastic shell and surrounded by 100 percent oxygen. It’s not a new technology, he said, but purchasing the equipment is expensive. The additional chamber will allow the center to serve about 50 percent more patients for that treatment, Merick said.
The renovations also included expanding the waiting room, upgraded exam rooms and additional space that can eventually be used for classrooms and other programs.
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Many of the wounds the center treats are the result of complications from diabetes, he said.
According to information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 30 million people in the U.S. have diabetes, which is the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S. In the past 20 years, the number of adults diagnosed with diabetes has more than tripled as the population has aged and become more obese, the CDC said.
The Ohio Department of Health showed diabetes was the primary cause of death for more than 3,600 Ohioans in 2012.
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More than 13 percent of Clark County residents are affected by Type 2 diabetes, Merick said. Wounds from the disease can lead to issues like a chronic foot ulcer, which if left untreated could lead to scars, infection or amputation, he said.
The renovations will allow more patients to receive treatment and other services at a single location, he said. Mercy Health-Springfield hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday night to celebrate the completed project.
“We want to help patients get the right care at the right price without people having to make 18 trips around town,” Merick said.
The Springfield News-Sun provides unmatched coverage of important health care issues in Clark and Champaign counties, including recent stories on debates over changes to the Affordable Care Act and renovations at Mercy Health - Urbana Hospital.
By the numbers
$350,000 — Cost of renovation at Springfield Regional Wound Care Center
3 — Hyperbaric oxygen chambers
15 — Percent of people with diabetes who will develop foot ulcers
1,150 — Average number of patients treated at Springfield and Urbana wound care centers annually
Source: Mercy Health — Springfield