Bealeton Resident Conquers 80 Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Treatments at Fauquier Health Wound Healing Center
August 17, 2023
Andy Efta, resident of Bealeton, recently celebrated the completion of his 80th hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBO) treatment at the Fauquier Health Wound Healing Center in Warrenton. Efta is a military veteran who served in the Vietnam War in 1967. During this period, he came into consistent contact with Agent Orange, a chemical herbicide known to be connected to a great deal of medical issues. Agent Orange, at that time, was used to remove tree foliage and other land vegetation that could be considered as cover for the enemy. Fast forward 35-40 years later, Efta has dealt with both acute and chronic conditions as a potential result of Agent Orange contact, such as shortness of breath, prostate cancer, congestive heart failure (CHF), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), diabetes, and more.
We sat down with Efta and asked him to elaborate on his journey to needing HBO as a treatment option. He explained how he was diagnosed with prostate cancer and ended up needing further radiation treatment to completely get rid of the cancer. The radiation unfortunately burnt a hole in his bladder, creating a fistula, which led to osteomyelitis (bone infection). According to Efta, “I was asymptomatic, so I didn’t even know this was happening.” At the time, he had a few options, either he needed surgery to completely remove his bladder, or he could try hyperbaric air. Efta chose treatment with hyperbaric air and was referred to the Fauquier Health Wound Healing Center where he met his technician, Betty Simpson.
To put it into perspective, HBO is a special treatment option that helps to speed up the wound repair process. It increases the amount of oxygen in the blood to saturate damaged tissues with oxygen. The treatment enables more oxygen to then reach the red blood cells, which in turn promotes healing from the inside out. Hyperbaric oxygen chambers are commonly used to treat conditions such as osteomyelitis, compromised skin grafts, delayed radiation injuries, and more. Patients who receive HBO inhale 100 percent oxygen at up to three times the normal atmospheric pressure.
According to Efta, “Hyperbaric air is the same as what divers do when they come up from deep water. They have to sit there and gradually come back up to normal pressure.” Starting in August through October 2022, he completed his first 40 rounds of HBO treatments. Come January 2023, it was decided upon to do another series of treatments, which meant another 40 rounds. The treatment process itself was very routine and took place every day, Monday-Friday. Patients lay down on the bed and then the technician slides the bed into the machine, which looks similar to a glass tube. “The tube is clear, so you don’t really feel like you are in a tube,” said Efta jokingly. “It’s like taking a plane ride, and getting up to pressure, but without the turbulence.” The treatment itself is about 90 minutes in duration and is designed for comfort. The bed inside of the chamber is adjustable and there is a TV monitor attached to the outside of the tube with built-in speakers for entertainment.
Efta finally completed his treatments in March 2023 and was elated that he was healed and was no longer in need of further treatment. When talking about his technician, Betty, and the rest of the Wound Healing Center staff, he said, “They are great. It doesn’t get any better. They basically turn themselves inside and out to make you feel welcome and comfortable. I miss seeing Betty regularly; we shared lots of laughs.”
Fauquier Health Wound Healing Center was recognized this year as a Healogics Center of Distinction from 2022. The center achieved outstanding clinical outcomes for twelve consecutive months, including a patient satisfaction rate higher than 92 percent. The Wound Healing Center offers diagnosis and advanced care for all types of non-healing wounds, including a variety of treatment options. To learn more about our Would Healing Center visit us online at FauquierHealth.org or call 540.316.4325.