From Sarah Courtney, Minister for Health for Tasmania

The health, safety and wellbeing of Tasmanians is our highest priority as we continue to deal with COVID-19.

From tomorrow, the new Department of Diving and Hyperbaric Medicine, with more capacity and capability for patient treatment, research and training, will open in K-Block.

This means more patients can be treated with hyperbaric oxygen simultaneously in the multiplace chamber, which has capacity for up to 10 patients.

There is also a dedicated treatment room for ICU patients who require hyperbaric oxygen treatment.

Patients will enjoy improved amenities in the multiplace chamber with more space, patient entertainment and a private toilet.

Two monoplace chambers are also available for patients who are unable to sit or who cannot tolerate the traditional method of oxygen delivered via a hood or mask.

K3E has more clinical areas with more wound, treatment and consultation rooms.

Tasmania’s new state-of-the-art multiplace, hyperbaric chamber has been designed by Australian experts with clinical and technical advice every step of the way from the Royal Hobart’s hyperbaric team.

Hyperbaric oxygen treatment is a well-known treatment for decompression illness and is essential for Tasmania’s commercial and recreational diving industries.

It is also used to treat other conditions that affect many Tasmanians every year – tissue injury from radiation after treatment for cancer, diabetic wounds and serious infections such as gangrene, for example.

The chamber has been fitted with dual-capability to pressurise (hyperbaric) and depressurise (hypobaric) and is a first for the southern hemisphere.

Hypobaric chambers are used for aerospace, or altitude research and training to simulate the effects of high altitude on the body, especially low oxygen levels and low ambient air pressure.

The dual-capability chamber will create a world-class research facility, unique in the southern hemisphere and one of just a few globally; the first with combined capability in the country.

Meanwhile, following rigorous testing, the helipad will be fully commissioned and ready for patients from Wednesday, May 6, 2020.

Fast, dedicated lifts in K-Block will allow retrieval teams to get patients to their treatment areas within minutes.

This is significantly faster than landing at the Cenotaph, which required transfer by road ambulance to the hospital.

Also, a third inpatient ward will open in K9E on Thursday, May 7, 2020.

The orthopaedics and surgical specialties unit will open 25 beds and includes a bariatric room, negative pressure isolation room and state-of-the-art burns bath with best practice airflows in its own designated area.

Patient services are now being delivered in K-Block with admissions and departures on KG, general and respiratory medicine, K10E and general and vascular surgery, K9W.

We are continuing to monitor the COVID-19 situation daily and will remain flexible in the use of health facilities to best meet the health needs of Tasmanians.

The sequence and opening of more wards and services over coming weeks will continue to be reviewed in light of Tasmania’s COVID-19 preparedness.


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