Hawai‘i’s Hyperbaric Treatment Center to Remain Closed Through February

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The Hyperbaric Treatment Center (HTC) will remain closed through February 2018. The University of Hawaiʻi remains committed to reopening the center and will provide an update on the ongoing efforts on/by Monday, Jan. 29, 2018.

HTC was closed Oct. 19, 2017, due to an acute doctor shortage at the 24/7 facility.

“The Hyperbaric Treatment Center will reopen as soon as a sufficient number of local physicians have been trained and placed on contract so the facility can maintain the 24/7 coverage required for diving-related decompression injuries,” said Dr. Jerris Hedges, dean of the UH Mānoa John A. Burns School of Medicine.

Steps currently being taken include:

  • Dr. Susan Steinemann, an expert in trauma and critical care medicine, has been hired as the center’s interim medical director and recently underwent additional training to administer hyperbaric therapy.
  • An additional class of five to six local Hawai‘i-licensed physicians will undergo similar training in December 2017.
  • The technician and support staffing for the center has been maintained, and the facility has been kept in a state of readiness so it can be reopened as soon as physician coverage is complete.
  • UH leadership is continuing to explore interim solutions for alternative physician coverage, like partnering with the Department of Defense, to provide care for divers in need of hyperbaric treatment.
  • A consultant has been retained to assist with development of a business plan that would guide the financial operation of HTC and justify additional community/state investment to meet the needs of multiple potential users of the center.
  • The $1.5 million upgrade to HTC, funded by the state Legislature, is scheduled to begin in 2018 and includes a complete overhaul of the chamber, upgrades to all of its systems and renovation of the facility.

HTC has treated civilian divers for decompression sickness or “the bends” in Hawaiʻi since 1983. As was the practice before the facility’s closure, anyone suffering from a decompression injury is advised to go to the nearest emergency department for immediate treatment.


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