ORANJESTAD, Aruba — The hyperbaric oxygen tank from the Hope Clinic is definitely out of use. The only decompression chamber of Aruba is still on the island but patients can no longer be treated there. Medical insurer AZV confirmed to the Amigoe that last Friday a diver had to be flown to Bonaire for treatment.
Doctor Ike Posner, owner of the Hope Clinic, said the tank is still on the island but can’t be used because it’s already been sold. The doctor’s clinic will be dissolved and the six employees are to find another job. He expects the nurses won’t have a hard time finding other employment as opposed to the technical staff specialized in hyperbaric technology, said Posner. Earlier on the doctor told the Amigoe that he regrets having to close down the clinic; this is his only option due to financial reasons. For medical insurer AZV the clinic closing down means higher costs for medical treatments abroad. Not only for the treatment of divers suffering from decompression sickness but also for patients with chronic wounds, amputations, gangrene, burns, bone infection, monoxide poisoning and mortifying of tissue due to radiation damage. These divers and patients now have to be flown to Bonaire for treatment in the decompression chamber on that island.
The St. Elisabeth Hospital (Sehos) on Curaçao has a new pressure cabin since Friday. The Amigoe reported last Saturday that the Venezuelan executive Vittorio De Stefano had donated this cabin that is now being managed by the Medical Center of Curaçao. Especially the diving world of Curaçao is very happy with the pressure cabin, according to the reaction from Hans Pleij, director of diving school Curious Dive. AZV-spokesperson Joost van de Kamp said that from now on patients can be treated on Curaçao instead of on Bonaire. Patients will probably prefer treatment on Curaçao because it’s closer, said Van de Kamp. The ideal situation would be if the Horacio Oduber Hospital (HOH) has an own decompression chamber. However, when Posner had put up his decompression chamber for sale earlier this year, the hospital wasn’t interested, according to Posner. The spokesperson of the hospital wasn’t available for comment this morning.
Patients being treated in the decompression chamber on Curaçao can relax in one of the eight chairs and watch TV-screens for entertainment. For the treatment, the chamber is put under pressure and supplied with pure oxygen. The duration and frequency of the treatment, for example a patient with decompression sickness, depends on the depth and duration of the dive or dives.
Presently, Saba does not have a working decompression chamber available to the public. The installation at the SCF in Fort Bay is not operational. The history and future of the decompression chamber are unclear. There are allegations that the SCF has not managed correctly the funds collected from the divers in recent years, but the details are covered by a screen of smoke. (26)