“I have always been healthy and able to take care of myself, so I didn’t know why I couldn’t get this wound to heal,” said David Hilbert.

Hilbert, a 62-year-old New Rockford resident, was too busy and too active to get sick. A self-employed carpenter, Hilbert needed his feet to survive. So he waited, hoping the wound would heal itself. Though a Type I diabetic for 30 years, Hilbert hoped he could control this wound on his own. But this was different.

For the next six months Hilbert would drive multiple miles for a variety of wound treatments: wound casts, wound drainage, and finally, when the infection had reached his bones, the amputation of his big right toe.

After the amputation, Hilbert began to fear the worst: the loss of a limb.

“Of course you try to avoid thinking about losing a limb, but that fear is always lingering in the back of your mind,” he said.

Healing through HBOT

After the amputation, Hilbert began advanced wound care treatments at Jamestown Regional Medical Center’s Would Center. One of them was Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT). JMRC is the only hospital in the state to offer HBOT.

The late singer Michael Jackson made HBOT famous. Back then, he said it helped him feel young. Today, swimmers and divers use it to help their bodies recover from underwater pressure. But HBOT can help more than entertainers and athletes.

In HBOT, patients enter a special pressurized chamber where they breathe concentrated oxygen while under atmospheric pressure. This extra oxygen helps fill the blood and repair tissues quickly.

“The goal is to heal these wounds as quickly as possible so these patients can go on with their lives. Providing quality of life is a big motivator for us,” said Annette Hazelton, JRMC Clinic Manager.

In addition to wounds like Hilbert’s, HBOT can help individuals with diabetic wounds, burns and certain infections of the skin and bone.

“It is worth a person’s quality of life to try advanced wound measures whether that is for a burn, venous leg ulcers, or a non-healing surgical wound,” said Amanda Lausch, FNP at the JRMC Wound Center. “We can take care of those patients here. They don’t need to travel.”

Because HBOT is relatively new to the state, many providers and patients aren’t aware of how the treatment works and the benefits it offers, Hazelton said.

“Patients aren’t aware: HBO can mean the difference between keeping and losing a limb,” Hazelton said.

After battling his wound for six months, the JRMC Wound Center healed Hilbert in just over a month. Today, his wounds are completely gone.

“I feel great. I was a mess when I started HBOT, but now this is the best my foot has felt in years,” he said.

Hazelton said she is excited to see the positive outcomes HBOT will provide for patients and providers.

“People need to see the results. They are there. It’s real,” she said.

To schedule an appointment, call 952-4878.