The Littlest Burn Patient
|Margarita Lopez Antonio, daughter Yaquelin and Clinical Director James Tyrrell
When little Yaquelin Lopez Antonio, a premature one-month-old baby girl, was air-lifted to Jacobi Medical Center after an apartment blaze, her mother Margarita was just hoping that the doctors at the hospital could save her little daughter from the dangerously high level of carbon monoxide that was in her blood after the fire. At Jacobi, hyperbaric medicine, a therapy which allows patients to breathe pure oxygen inside a pressurized chamber, frequently provides life-saving care for fire victims suffering from smoke inhalation. For little Yaquelin, it made all the difference.
“This was by far the youngest child we have ever treated in the chamber,” said James Tyrrell, Clinical Director of the Hyperbaric Service. “I’ve seen young and old restored to health through this device, and once again, it’s proved its worth as an invaluable medical tool.”
The hyperbaric chamber is just one unique tool that HHC doctors use to help fire victims and their families heal physically and emotionally. Two HHC facilities – Jacobi Medical Center and Harlem Hospital Center – are among only three hospitals in the City designated as official Burn Centers by the New York State Department of Health. The medical staff and technology at these hospitals are specially equipped to treat the most serious burn cases and ambulances are instructed to bring serious burn cases directly to these facilities.
Jacobi, nationally recognized for the excellence of its clinical research, provides early surgical intervention for burn patients to preserve skin, minimize infection and reduce injury. The U.S. Army acknowledged Jacobi’s expertise by selecting the hospital to give burn care courses for the National Guard as part of a pre-deployment training program for military personnel. Its hyperbaric chamber is also utilized for patients suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning, and has treated over 3,000 patients since 1983, more than any other facility in the United States.
HHC’s other Burn Center of Excellence at Harlem Hospital Center also operates one of the few burn units in the City and features a specialty in plastic and reconstructive surgery to reduce the keloid scarring that affects African-American burn patients.
Dr. Ferdinand Ofodile, Director of Plastic Surgery, knows the aesthetics behind repairing skin with a variety of pigmentations.
“When you’re doing reconstructive surgery, it’s important to keep in mind that each ethnic group is different so you really have to modify what you’re doing. There’s no one size fits all approach,” said Ofodile. “We want to make sure that each patient looks natural and that’s why we need to be sensitive to each patient’s needs.”
Visit nyc.gov/hhc to learn more about HHC’s Burn Centers of Excellence and their services.