Santa’s Little Helper

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Christmas came a little early this year for 5-year-old patient Austin Harms when he was greeted by Santa after receiving hyperbaric medicine treatment on Monday, December 17. Austin is fighting some of the side effects of cancer treatment and is receiving hyperbaric oxygen therapy in HCMC’s new hyperbaric chamber.

“He’s so upbeat – so happy, considering everything he’s been through,” said Austin’s dad, Kraig Harms, as he chatted with Santa in the waiting room. But when Santa asked Kraig how he and his wife were holding up, he tearfully shared that they are “hanging in there, but I think it’s harder on us than it is on Austin.”

When Austin finished his treatment, Santa entered the chamber and surprised him with a booming “Ho Ho Ho!” and a bagful of gifts. The smile on Austin’s face said it all: it’s Christmastime, and Santa didn’t forget.  But Austin had a gift for Santa, too.   Santa shared that after the holidays he would be visiting the hyperbaric chamber for treatment, too, and so he had questions for Austin about what it was like. Austin was able to reassure him that it wasn’t scary at all, and that Santa would be fine.

“I feel much better now after talking to you about it,” Santa whispered to Austin.  “Thank you so much, Austin!”

Bernie the Rescue DogAfter opening his gifts (including a “Bernie the Rescue Dog” toy), Austin got a big hug from Santa, who reminded him that he would be stopping at his house on Christmas Eve.

“I will see you next week! Now I’ve got to go back to my sleigh – because it’s parked on the roof — next to the helipad — with the reindeer! Ho, Ho Ho, Merry Christmas!”

See the WCCO 4 News story at

HCMC NETWORK FEATURE: New Center for Hyperbaric Medicine

A new era has begun with the opening of the Center for Hyperbaric Medicine at HCMC (Photo 1).  From early plans and funding applications, through installation of a multiplace hyperbaric chamber and construction of a brand new hyperbaric medicine suite, a dedicated and multifaceted team on two continents has worked to make this state-of-the-art facility a reality.

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HCMC was the first and, from 1964 to 2008, the only provider of hyperbaric oxygen therapy to Minnesota and the region.  HCMC remains the only facility that provides emergency hyperbaric oxygen treatments 24/7 for critical patients with carbon monoxide poisoning, life- and limb-threatening infections, decompression sickness, and arterial gas embolism while also providing evidence-based care for non-emergency patients with radiation injury, non-healing wounds from diabetes, and other conditions (Photos 2 and 3). Hyperbaric medicine treatments at HCMC have increased annually as hyperbaric oxygen therapy has been shown effective for a growing number of chronic medical conditions.  A total of 3335 hyperbaric treatments were administered in 2011, including 135 emergency treatments and 3200 scheduled (non-emergent) treatments. Continue reading “HCMC NETWORK FEATURE: New Center for Hyperbaric Medicine”