CLINIC IN FOCUS
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Unit at Mather Hospital
How long have you been in business?
John T. Mather Hospital began as a vision of a local shipbuilder from Port Jefferson, NY, and in 1929 it became the first general medical hospital in the Town of Brookhaven. In the spirit of its visionary seafaring founder, Mather Hospital added hyperbaric medicine by opening the first hyperbaric unit on Long Island in 1994.
Our staff consists of board-certified physicians in hyperbaric medicine, family medicine, emergency medicine, pulmonary medicine, internal medicine, and cardiology. Our nursing staff consists of critical-care nurses, a critical-care nurse practitioner, as well as a hyperbaric certified nurse and certified safety director.
What are the most common indications treated at your clinic?
Patients come from all over Long Island for nonemergent hyperbaric cases, including common radiation-induced injuries and wound-care issues. We also still treat the emergent cases of carbon monoxide poisoning, decompression illnesses, failing flaps, acute sensorineural hearing loss, acute retinal artery occlusion, gas gangrene and necrotizing fasciitis.
What is the most memorable treatment success story that has come out of your clinic?
The one that stands out most occurred a number of years ago. Since we are still a 24/7 operation, we have undertaken some dramatic situations. A patient had developed an extensive necrotizing infection and was near death. She was in a hospital ICU, intubated and on multiple medications. We were asked to take on her care. Some hospitals and surgeons may have been reticent to both transport and accept this type of transfer, but one of our surgeons agreed, and she was brought from another county to us. She went for extensive surgery, which included an incision from her buttock area up to her thoracic region. We began hyperbaric oxygen therapy in conjunction with multiple surgeries and antibiotics. The patient woke up in two days, was extubated in approximately five days and went on to full healing and discharge.
If you had to pick one thing to attribute your clinic’s success to, what would it be?
Staff dedication. Without the support of a dedicated staff and the commitment to excellence, the program would not be in existence. Since we are 24/7, our staff of three nurses and a nurse practitioner are on call regularly, often for a week at a time. Their dedication to return after hours is amazing.
Also, the caring and comradery that they develop with the patients over prolonged courses of treatment is invaluable. Often patients are happy to complete their therapy but sad to leave the friendship and relationships they have developed.
What is one marketing recommendation that you can make to help clinics increase their patient load?
Constantly remain in contact with the community of providers that treat potential hyperbaric cases.
Is there are any additional question you’d like to answer, or any other information about your clinic you’d like to showcase?
We have provided support for the diving operations during the TWA Flight 800 incident as well as local diving operations such as the Air National Guard and have been involved in research projects associated with Stony Brook University and the U.S. Navy.