Dozens of island residents at risk for amputation because of diabetes, are now “graduates” of the oxygen treatment program at the island’s new private hospital, the Guam Regional Medical City announced Thursday.
The hospital celebrated this week with the patients who have benefited from the program since it started in August, a release from GRMC states.
The hospital’s Wound Care Specialist and Hyperbaric Medicine physician, Dr. Edna Acuna, launched her treatment program in August, the release states.
Two hyperbaric chambers provide 100 percent pure oxygen, under pressure. Each “dive” in the chamber lasts about 90 minutes. When breathed in under pressure, the patient’s enriched blood feeds the wound with pure oxygen, speeding the healing process, the release states.
To date, 25 island residents suffering from diabetes have successfully completed the program.
About a dozen of those patients gathered in the GRMC lobby sporting red t-shirts, provided by the hospital, which touted their achievement. On the front the t-shirts read “Lost My Sores With GRMC Wound Care”, and on the back “Wound Care and Hyperbaric Medicine Program Graduate.”
Tony Artero Sablan, 63, was one of the several graduates of the program.
“I went for a long walk one day back in 2007 and came home with a blister on the underside of each foot,” Sablan said in a written statement from the hospital.
The blister on his left foot healed within a few days, but the one on his right foot developed into a serious diabetic wound that remained unhealed for 8 years.
“I went to the Philippines 4 times for different treatments, but nothing seemed to work. It could have led to an amputation,” said Sablan.
He credits the limb saving treatments provided by Dr. Acuna for saving his foot, according to GRMC.
“The wound is totally closed now,” he said. “Fortunately this treatment is available here on Guam.”
Other graduates were also at risk of losing limbs, but none have, after being treated by Acuna, the release states.
“The length of the treatment depends on the seriousness of the wound,” Acuna said. “But typically it involves weekly cleaning and medications with 30 ‘dives’ in the hyperbaric chamber.”
Diabetics seeking treatment for wounds can call GRMC directly at 645-5500 to make an appointment, according to the hospital.