CHIPLEY — Northwest Florida Community Hospital administration, staff and community leaders gathered Tuesday to celebrate the hospital’s Wound Healing Institute accreditation for Hyperbaric Services.


CHIPLEY — Northwest Florida Community Hospital administration, staff and community leaders gathered Tuesday to celebrate the hospital’s Wound Healing Institute accreditation for Hyperbaric Services.



“Any time a hospital gets accredited, it is a big deal,” said Pat Schlenker, CEO of Northwest Florida Community Hospital. “Especially a small, rural hospital such as ours.”



The Wound Healing Institute at NFCH is one of nine accredited facilities in the state of Florida, and the only Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society accredited facility between Lakeland and Pensacola.



Hyperbaric oxygen therapy uses a special chamber, sometimes called a pressure chamber, to increase the amount of oxygen in the blood.



The air pressure inside a hyperbaric oxygen chamber is about two and a half times greater than the normal pressure in the atmosphere. This helps your blood carry more oxygen to organs and tissues in your body, according to the National Institute for Health website, nlm.nih.gov.



The hospital received its accreditation on June 24 from UHMS, which is the governing body for the Hyperbaric community and follows the same rigorous standards for accreditation as the Joint Commission and the National Fire Protection Association, according to a news release from the hospital.



Northwest Florida Community Hospital is a 59-bed healthcare facility that includes a 25-bed Critical Access hospital, a 34-bed Long Term Care Facility and a Home Health Agency, was named one of Florida’s Top Hospitals and recognized with the Hospital of Choice Award. It was one of only three Florida Hospitals to receive the award.



It is also accredited by the Joint Commission of Accreditation of Health Care Organizations.



Its 24-hour state-of-the-art Emergency department provides the latest in diagnostic radiology with 24/365 coverage by Board-certified radiologists.



Out of 1,328 Critical Access Hospitals in the United States, NFCH is the first and only one to have a UHMS accredited hyperbaric facility.



“This is a tremendous achievement,” said Catherine Todorovich, CEO of Innovative Healing Systems of Tampa. “The Wound Healing Institute is dedicated to non-healing wounds, and they have a healing rate of 90 to 95 percent. I can tell you there is no better feeling than seeing a patient walk out of the clinic in 16 weeks, after they came here in a wheelchair thinking they were going to have to have an amputation.”



Innovative Healing Systems is a partner with NFCH in the Wound Healing Institute, Schlenker said.



The Wound Healing Institute was the vision of Vickie Schlenker, said Todorovich. “We also need to thank her for her vision and work in making this clinic a reality.”



The staff of the Wound Healing Institute impacts people’s lives, Todorovich said. “Quality care like this doesn’t just happen,” she said. “It takes a qualified and tenacious staff to deliver health care at this level.”