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Southeast Alaska left without deco chamber

Bartlett hospital in Juneau has dismantled its compression chamber used for diving emergencies. Nearest chambers are now in Anchorage and Seattle.
The decompression chamber in Juneau has been dismantled and removed.
The Juneau hyperbaric chamber had been used less frequently in recent years, but divers felt it was still needed.
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Southeast Alaska scuba divers requiring emergency treatment in a hyperbaric chamber will now have to go all the way to Anchorage or Seattle

Over the decades, the chamber at the hospital was also used for carbon monoxide poisoning and healing wounds. Dr. Palmer says within the first six months of its arrival, the chamber was used to treat ten cases of monoxide poisoning.

Robyn Free is the director of diagnostic imaging and respiratory therapy at Bartlett Regional Hospital. She says in recent years, use of the chamber dropped. It was last used in December 2011 for wound care, which requires 20 sessions in the chamber.

“And prior to that it was 12 months since they had anyone in the chamber.”

That’s one of the reasons the hospital decided to discontinue the program. Another is cost.

The federal agency Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services surveyed the hospital last June and said a fire suppression system had to be put in place to continue running the chamber.

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