The Isle of Man Hyperbaric Medical facility has announced that its two multiplace hyperbaric chambers are now closed until further notice.
It is quite probable that the Manx facility is one of the busiest hyperbaric facilities in the UK. The Kevin Gray Memorial Trust' operates the chambers on a daily basis and 15,000 treatments are conducted each year.
"The chambers are regularly checked prior to any treatments being run. During a routine equipment audit we discovered a potential problem. We are not sure whether it applies to one or both chambers, hence we are erring on the side of caution", stated Dean Cooke, Facility Manager.
"We have therefore sent parts away to the UK to be inspected and we are now waiting for the parts to be returned to the island. We are not sure how long this process will take, hence we are taking this opportunity to bring forward the deep maintenance plan we had scheduled later in the year. We do not know if the chambers will be down for two weeks or two months, but we are not anticipating it will be for a significant length of time ie six months."
The chambers are funded by charity donations. At present the full replacement costs of certain key components are not yet completely known.
An injury that is expected to take several months to mend can literally take a few weeks when it is treated with HBOT
The Isle of Man facility routinely treats a wide range of medical problems with HBOT, Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy. These include carbon monoxide poisoning, skin grafts, intercranial abyss, gas gangrene, crush injuries, ulcers, radiation damage and high impact trauma.
"We also look after conditions such as osteomyelitis. This is where something like a lower mandible can become weak and degnerate if a tooth has been removed and and an infection is not properly treated."
The chamber provides HBOT for what some doctors consider 'off label' problems, ie strokes, MS, tinnitus and diabetic feet.
"Every patient is carefully screened before we start any therapies. We have found that our patients benefit from HBOT therapies. It is not a magic bullet but it does aid significant and timely recovery. An injury that is expected to take several months to mend can literally take a few weeks."
Treatment for Divers
The Isle of Man has some superb temperate water diving and benefits from a Marine Nature Reserve which has resulted in some important marine species and habitats being protected. The diving attracts divers from all over the UK.
Michelle Haywood of Discover Diving said that the chamber was well liked and heavily used by local residents.
"It was unfortunate that the chambers are currently out of action during peak diving season. We have therefore re-evaluated our Emergency Plan, and we are also advising our divers to conduct extra safety stops on every dive and to dive in a very conservative manner.
We are fortunate that we have chambers in Northern Ireland and the Wirral that are reasonably accessible to us."
The Isle of Man facility treats about five divers a year.
Dean Cooke stated we have informed the Coastguard, DDRC and the Divers Emergency Helpline that the Manx Chamber is now offline. Protocols have now been put in place to ensure that divers will be evacuated to alternative chambers in the interim."
A further announcement will be made as and when information is available.