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Jamestown Regional Medical Center heals with innovative care

Hyperbaric oxygen chamber at Jamestown Regional Hospital
JRMC is the only hospital in North Dakota with a wound center equipped with a hyperbaric oxygen chamber, where patients with chronic or non-healing wounds are treated.

Artistry and ingenuity intertwine throughout the Jamestown Regional Medical Center (JRMC). Inside, a minimalistic beauty reflects the nearby wheat fields and blue skies outside. Sunlight streams through the main corridor’s soaring windows onto robin egg-blue walls, where vibrant local art is displayed.

But even more impressive are the innovations tucked inside the facility, including JRMC’s Wound Center that is helping heal patients who had nearly given up hope.

David Hilbert, New Rockford, was one of those patients. When the 63-year-old diabetic developed an ulcer on his foot, he bounced from treatment to treatment, until the infection reached his bone and his big toe was amputated.

Then, Hilbert began advanced wound treatment at JRMC’s Wound Center, and its hyperbaric oxygen chamber. And JRMC’s innovative care healed him.

 “There’s a sliver of innovation in every department,” says Trisha Jungels, chief nursing officer, leading the way through JRMC. “JRMC is very innovative. We invest in innovation every day and I think our building speaks for that.”

Located on the outskirts of Jamestown along Touchstone Energy® Boulevard, JRMC is served by Northern Plains Electric Cooperative, which partnered with Basin Electric Power Cooperative to donate $100,000 for construction of the new facility in 2012.

JRMC is the only hospital in North Dakota with a wound center equipped with a hyperbaric oxygen chamber.

“JRMC is proud to offer such a specialty service, especially since JRMC remains both a rural and an independent hospital. That’s rare,” says Katie Ryan-Anderson, marketing manager.

“This non-invasive therapy is many times the difference between amputating a limb or returning to a fully functioning body and a high-quality of life,” she says. It’s that type of innovation that healed Hilbert. 

“It was huge, from the standpoint of healing,” says Hilbert, who is a full-time carpenter. “This absolutely wouldn’t heal. I could have lost my whole leg.”

In addition to wounds like Hilbert’s, the hyperbaric oxygen chamber can help individuals with burns, and certain infections of the skin and bone, among other types of wounds.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a specialized treatment in which patients breathe pure oxygen inside a pressurized chamber. In the chamber, oxygen is delivered to the bloodstream at 10 to 20 times the normal amount. This extra oxygen helps fill the blood and repair tissues quickly.

Most patients will require multiple treatments over the course of several weeks to see full results. While in the clear chamber, patients can nap or watch TV. 

Hilbert spent 90 minutes in the chamber five days a week for 30 days. After dealing with the ulcer for six months, his foot healed after 30 “dives” in the chamber, he says. The chamber is pressurized to the equivalent of 2.5 levels below sea level, with the pressure assisting in the healing effects of the oxygen. Thus, it’s similar to “diving” undersea.

Inside, the chamber is completely quiet, while the hiss of oxygen is the only sound outside the chamber. 

During his treatment, Hilbert also found comfort in those treating him.

“They are a bunch of awesome people. I got to know them real well,” he says.

The Wound Center became a part of JRMC in 2014, after the new facility was completed, filling space that had been built intentionally for new specialties to grow into. Another space at JRMC will soon be filled with new oncology care.

“There’s a lot of need out there for the wounds that we see. They’re really chronic – a lot of diabetics and long-term, chronic wounds,” says Annette Hazelton, an RN and clinic manager at JRMC.

The Wound Center treats patients who have chronic, non-healing wounds, with six wound care specialists who have received additional training.

“Wound care is very specialized and it takes special people and a passion and love for that and those individuals are a challenge to find,” Jungels says.

“We heal people holistically, so we don’t just look at the wound, we look at the whole body,” Hazelton says. The team determines what caused the wound and treats the problem, not just the wound itself. Lifestyle education, nutrition and other issues are all addressed with patients.

The Wound Center came about after physician surveys indicated a need for wound services. The hospital partnered with Healogics, which offered the hyperbaric chamber and pathways for wound healing, which are proven methods to heal certain types of wounds.

“They continue to provide us with the tools and research and education to make sure that we are still at the forefront of advanced wound care,” Hazelton says.

Last year, the Wound Center treated 521 patients, with a heal rate of 21 days.

“That’s huge for patients who come in who had a wound for seven years and learned to live with it,” Hazelton says. 

“There are so many wounds out there that aren’t being treated, so our goal is to help individuals in our state to help them progress forward with their wound care,” Jungels adds.

“It’s really important for the patient to help them. It’s amazing how some people live with a wound and just accept it,” says Amanda Lausch, a family nurse practitioner with the Wound Center. “They’re very excited that this doesn’t have to be part of their life anymore.” She completed the intensive additional training for wound care, which included online and hands-on sessions, along with a series of tests.

“We want to exceed expectations and we want to be an organization of value and we want to make sure we have services locally that people can have access to without having to drive 100 miles to receive it,” Jungels says..


Fast facts:

Jamestown Regional Medical Center (JRMC) dates back to 1929 in the community of Jamestown. The new facility includes a 25-bed critical access hospital, the JRMC Clinic, the Essentia Health Clinic and the Fargo VA Medical Center has an outpatient clinic located in the facility. Each works together to bring comprehensive patient care to the area.

For four years, JRMC has been named a Top 100 Critical Access Hospital in the country. The facility includes a 128-slice CT scanner and was the first in the state to offer 3-D mammography. Its physical rehab area includes an anti-gravity treadmill, another innovative piece of equipment.

Just this year, Modern Healthcare named JRMC one of the Best Places to Work in the United States.

JRMC also has specialists in ear, nose and throat; OB/GYN; orthopedics; podiatry/foot and ankle; and urology.