The History of Hyperbaric Medicine at the University of Iowa

The practice of hyperbaric medicine began at the University of Iowa in 1988 when Dr. Peter J.R. Jebson, an anesthesiologist who also practiced critical care medicine and cared for patients in the surgical intensive care unit, became interested in using hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) in the treatment of severe, life threatening infections.  Therefore, a douplace chamber (i.e. a chamber capable of holding two patients at a time) was obtained and the Hyperbaric Medicine Service (HMS) was born. This service was (and continues to be) staffed by physicians from the department of anesthesia and specially trained respiratory therapists. In addition to treating these infections, the service became involved in all aspects of hyperbaric medicine, including wound care.

The service continued to grow until the duoplace chamber could no longer handle the patient load.  Thus, a larger, multiplace (capable of holding multiple patients-six in this case) chamber was purchased from Perry Baromedical and installed in 1995. Because of the chamber’s size and weight (23 feet long, 7 feet in diameter, 24,000 pounds) it was necessary to bring the chamber in through the seventh floor roof and down a shaft to the fifth floor. It was then moved on air cushions to its present location on the fifth floor between the operating rooms and surgical intensive care unit.

In recognition of Dr. Jebson’s indispensable dedication and involvement in the formation and subsequent success of the service, the hyperbaric medicine clinic was officially re-named the Peter J.R. Jebson Hyperbaric Medicine and Wound Care Facility in 2000. Today, the hyperbaric medicine service continues to be a busy service that is involved in all aspects of hyperbaric medicine and treats patients from all over Iowa for a variety of conditions.