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Robert Hall, in front of one of UNC's three hyperbaric chambers.
A lot of that might have something to do with Robert Hall and Sam Benton, the technicians who work there. Recently, Robert earned his Certified Hyperbaric Technician (CHT) license, bringing a new level of distinction to the Wound Center.
Getting the license, which is the highest level of certification a hyperbaric technician can receive, takes a lot of hard work. To prepare for the licensure examination, a technician has to have already taken and received certification from a Hyperbaric Oxygen Training course, participate in a two to four month self-guided study on the history and uses of Hyperbaric Oxygen in medicine and the technical operation of a chamber, as well as Dive Tables and the connection of the mechanics of the chambers to the evidence based medical impact on the patient.
Robert took his examination at Rex HealthCare, and became officially licensed in November 2009. Benton also has his CHT license. That makes Robert and Sam two of only 3,000 people in the world with such a high level of certification.
Robert says he thinks patients really appreciate that they are in good hands. “It’s a good credential to have because of safety – you know every little thing you can about the chamber.”
Often patients need a little reassuring before their first treatment, or dive, as they are called, said Robert. “People come in apprehensive, but after one or two dives, they really grow to like it.” Essentially, the chambers simulate the pressure you would feel 30 – 40 feet underwater. They use pure oxygen to heal wounds more quickly than regular air would.
Still, the process usually takes months. An average patient needs about 30 two-hour treatments, which they normally get Monday through Friday. Patients can watch TV or movies or listen to music while they are in treatment.
“We do build up some really good relationships,” Robert said. “We’ve met some really nice people here. We have a good time with them and try to make it as enjoyable as we can – for them and for us. Sometimes we’re real sad to see them go,” he said.
Robert said that many of the patients feel the same way- they want to keep on coming back even once they are healed. “Also, we’ve had people come to our door, crying, just so happy to finally be healed.”
Many of the patients have chronic illnesses, like diabetes, that can lead to wounds. They are so used to dealing with the wounds, Robert said, they can’t believe Hyperbarics was able to heal them, and they are just so thankful.
“That’s the best part to me – it makes me feel like we really do a lot for the patients,” Robert said. “I really do love working here.”