Phelps Hospital’s Undersea & Hyperbaric Medicine Department Achieves Reaccreditation with Distinction

Photo Caption (L-R): Ritzel Boer, Certified Hyperbaric Registered Nurse (CHRN); Taylor Bodley, Certified Hyperbaric Technologist (CHT); Owen J. O’Neill, MD, MPH, Medical Director; Sandra Gurash, CHT; Elizabeth Smykowski, Advanced Certified Hyperbaric Registered Nurse (ACHRN), Nurse Manager; JoAnn Marker, CHT, Safety Officer; Patrick Kelly, Technologist; John Sullivan, CHT, Safety Director; Lubiha Perez, CHT; and Tanisha Hall, Undersea & Hyperbaric Medicine Department Office Coordinator. Team members not pictured: Amanda Previdi, EMT, RN, CHT; Mathew Eaton, EMT, CHT; and David Dayya, DO, PhD.

Phelps Hospital, Northwell Health announced that its Undersea & Hyperbaric Medicine (UHM) Department has received “Accreditation with Distinction” from the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society (UHMS). UHMS accreditation is the gold standard in hyperbaric facility accreditation and recognizes those that meet or exceed the highest levels of care and patient safety.

Participation in the UHMS accreditation program requires months of preparation. More than 650 probes into patient safety, facility standards, equipment maintenance, and team-member training are rigorously evaluated to ensure the highest quality is maintained within the specialty. “Accreditation with Distinction” is the highest ranking given by the UHMS.

“This recognition is a testament to the exceptional work our dedicated hyperbaric team performs daily,” said Owen J. O’Neill, MD, MPH, Founding Medical Director of Undersea & Hyperbaric Medicine at Phelps Hospital, Northwell Health. “The UHM team is a fine example of the outstanding patient safety, care, and environmental standards found at Phelps. We are proud members of the Northwell healthcare family and our community.”

Phelps’ UHM Department opened in December 2006 with the largest hyperbaric chamber in the Northeastern United States, one of only 30 in the nation like it. The chamber can accommodate up to 12 patients at a time and allows the hyperbaric team of physicians, nurses, and technologists to work alongside patients during treatment.

Since its inception 15 years ago, the UHM Department has safely and successfully performed more than 40,000 hyperbaric oxygen treatments. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy involves the use of medical oxygen administered in a pressure chamber at levels higher than atmospheric pressure. This pressure helps oxygen dissolve more rapidly into the blood, advancing its absorption into damaged tissues to promote healing of wounds, serious infections, pressure-related scuba diving injuries, arterial gas embolism, and other illnesses.

“We have had many notable success stories over the years, from saving a family of nine poisoned with carbon monoxide – the youngest being just nine days old – to helping restore hearing in a 15-year-old inflicted with sudden sensorineural hearing loss,” said Dr. O’Neill. “Our department provides support to the Wound Healing Institute using adjuvant hyperbaric oxygen to heal chronic wounds and save ischemic limbs in the diabetic population. Hyperbaric oxygen is also helpful in preserving failing flaps and skin grafts in our breast cancer survivors, curing tissue damage occasionally suffered by cancer radiation patients, and much more.”

The UHM team at Phelps actively participates in research, including a number of protocols currently listed in ClinicalTrials.gov. Their work has been featured in peer-reviewed medical literature and diving medicine textbooks. The team also published an original textbook, “Policy & Procedural Guidelines for Hyperbaric Facilities,” and is writing the second edition for Best Publishing.

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