Memorial University's Faculty of Medicine is working towards concluding an agreement which will see the university transferring ownership of its hyperbaric chamber to Eastern Health, the province's largest health authority. Under the proposed agreement, the university would retain the right to use the specialized equipment for education and research purposes, but Eastern Health will manage the clinical use of the chamber itself. The facility, located on Memorial's St. John’s campus, has increasingly been used to treat patients suffering from a variety of conditions and illnesses.
The Memorial University of Newfoundland MEDICOR Hyperbaric facility was initially established in 1982 with a mandate to carry out research and development projects. There are very few hyperbaric facilities in Canada.
"The equipment provides a very controlled environment in which air pressure and oxygen and other gas concentrations can be safely adjusted," said Dr. Jim Rourke, dean of the Faculty of Medicine. "The facility has also been made available for acute emergency patient care several times per year, most often for treatment relating to diving emergencies when controlled decompression was needed.
"The understanding of the usefulness of hyperbaric treatments relating to patient care has increased over the years, leading to use of the chamber by Eastern Health for a wider variety of patients other than for acute emergency care," said Dr. Rourke. "We hope that this agreement, once concluded, will lead to greater use of the hyperbaric chamber for patients in Newfoundland and Labrador."
With the shift in priority focus from research to patient care, Memorial University, the Faculty of Medicine and Eastern Health have agreed that Eastern Health will be fully responsible for equipment and staff related to patient care.
"We will work with Eastern Health to open the facility as soon as possible," Dr. Rourke said. "This involves the operation of advanced technical equipment and requires highly trained, specialized staff. We are confident that this is the best way forward for the university, for Eastern Health and for patients in this province."
"Eastern Health is actively working to implement the necessary measures to provide hyperbaric services on a consistent basis," said Vickie Kaminski, president and CEO, Eastern Health. "The transfer of the hyperbaric chamber to Eastern Health is a positive step as we move forward in this process."