Business First: N.F. hospital preps for hyperbaric medicine

May 7, 2013 Updated May 7, 2013 at 8:44 AM EDT

By Tracey Drury, Buffalo Business First

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Business First: N.F. hospital preps for hyperbaric medicine

May 7, 2013 Updated May 7, 2013 at 8:44 AM EDT

Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center is creating a wound care program in a medical office building adjacent to the downtown Niagara Falls hospital.

The hospital filed plans in late April with the state Department of Health to invest $656,000 into three hyperbaric chambers. The hospital plans to renovate existing space on campus at 620 Tenth St.

Hyperbaric medicine is one of several methods used by physicians to speed healing of wounds resulting from trauma, surgical, diabetes or other conditions. Wound care programs specialize in treating chronic or problem wounds, typically those that fail to respond to conventional treatment within 30 days.

According to project details filed with the certificate-of-need application, the hospital says a dedicated wound care service is required to serve the "significant" number of patients in its service area suffering from chronic wounds related to age as well as high rates of diabetes and obesity.

"This advanced treatment is the most cost-effective approach available for providing wound care to diabetics and the elderly," said Joseph Ruffolo, hospital president and CEO. "Its use prevents hospital admissions and readmissions and reduces emergency room visits by those patients."

The hospital is working with Tarrytown-based RestorixHealth, formerly known as The Center for Wound Healing Inc., which manages comprehensive wound care treatment centers across the country in partnership with hospitals. All capital costs for the project would be incurred by RestorixHealth, which will absorb the costs over the life of its five-year administrative services contract.

Plans call for converting nearly 2,500 square feet of unused space on the seventh floor, with three treatment rooms, a hyperbaric suite and support space. Costs for the project include $250,000 for moveable equipment.

The facility will be directed by Dr. Michael Mitchell, a vascular surgeon with the Niagara Wound Care and Hyperbaric Medicine Center. Pending state approvals, the center is scheduled to open in October.

The center at Niagara Falls Memorial would be the second such program in the Niagara Falls area, competing with the Center for Wound Healing and Hyperbaric Medicine at Mount St. Mary's Hospital & Health Center.

Its establishment follows several new or expanded wound care programs at hospitals in the Western New York region: Erie County Medical Center two years ago opened a Wound Care and Hyperbaric Medicine Center with two hyperbaric chambers. The Catholic Health System launched two sites in the past three years in Orchard Park at Mercy Ambulatory Care Center; and a second at Sisters Hospital, St. Joseph Campus in Cheektowaga.

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