UH says it's committed to re-opening hyperbaric treatment center

UH says it's committed to re-opening hyperbaric treatment center

MANOA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - From last July through this month 52 divers were treated for decompression sickness — also called the "bends" — at the University of Hawaii's Hyperbaric Treatment Center.

The center also treated diabetics, patients suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning and other other life-threatening illnesses.

Last week, though, UH abruptly closed the center.

"This is having a huge impact across the state," UH spokesman Dan Meisenzahl said.

Several of the physicians had resigned or were in the process of resigning and there were no replacements.

"It got to the point where some of the things they were trying to do to address the departures just weren't panning out," Meisenzahl said.

Sources tell Hawaii News Now that the doctors filed formal complaints over unreconciled differences with UH and center management, and were concerned that a few years ago the center lost accreditation.

Meisenzahl said the university is looking into those allegations.

"We've talked to a number of different organizations today," he said. "Their only concern was to get the center up and running. No one voiced any concerns about the quality of service, quite the opposite actually."

In the meantime, hospitals will have to handle diver emergencies.

The Queen's Medical Center has two single-person chambers, but they're not available round-the-clock and are primarily used to treat chronic, non-healing wounds, not to treat the bends.

"Hopefully, in the interim, we can find a stopgap before the center is up and running again," Meisenzahl said.

He said UH is committed to re-opening the Hyperbaric Treatment Center but has not settled on a timeline. This past legislative session lawmakers gave the university $1.5 million to upgrade the facility.

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