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Legacy Unveils Oregon's Largest Hyberbaric Oxygen Chamber

<p>Legacy Emanuel's new hyperbaric oxygen chamber can treat up to 12 patients at a time.</p>

Anastasia Anisimova

Legacy Emanuel's new hyperbaric oxygen chamber can treat up to 12 patients at a time.

Legacy Emanuel opened Oregon's largest hyperbaric oxygen chamber Tuesday. It’s used to treat wounds that are difficult to heal.

The chamber is a room-sized metal container with a door like a submarine. Up to 12 patients at a time can sit inside, as oxygen is pumped in under more than twice atmospheric pressure. That drives oxygen into the blood stream, which in turn helps heal wounds in people with poor blood flow.

Right now the chamber sits on the back of a truck in the parking lot.

Dr. Enoch Huang says Legacy is leasing it because the hospital is planning to get its own chamber in a few years. “The bigger one that we’ll be getting in three or four years is planned to be a larger, what we call a triple-lock chamber, so there are three compartments that can be pressurized," he said.

"It will hopefully be a rectangular chamber, as opposed to a cylindrical one, to give the patients more of a semblance of normalcy.”

Medicare covers hyperbaric oxygen therapy for diabetes and burns. But it doesn’t cover the therapy for maladies like neck pain and concussions. Some clinics have been criticized for using it that way.

Copyright 2016 Oregon Public Broadcasting

Kristian Foden-Vencil is a reporter and producer for Oregon Public Broadcasting. He specializes in health care, business, politics, law and public safety.