It's in the headlines constantly - people with severe burns are often taken to city-run Jacobi Hospital in the Bronx. Health Reporter Erin Billups got an inside look at Jacobi's world-recognized Burn Unit, and the special medicine practiced there and filed the following report.
Roderick Rollock suffered severe damage to his vocal chords and lungs after running into his burning home in Queens to save his dog.
"I was just blowing out the phlegm and it was coming out black, black," recalls Rollock.
Doctors at Jacobi Medical Center cut a hole in his throat to help him breath, and placed him in a coma for two weeks, to ease the stress on his body.
Due to their quick work he's recovering well.
"I just have a second chance at life," says Rollock.
He's one of the 200 patients treated each year at the hospital's burn center.
"What you're looking at is really a state of the art unit, these patients are critically ill, and one of the important things is how much room you have in each room," says Burn Unit Diector and Attending Doctor of Department of Surgery/Plastic Surgery Bruce Greenstein.
Extra spacious rooms limit the spread of germs.
Overhead heaters give burn patients - no longer able to regulate body heat - added comfort.
There's a special shower room to properly wash and disinfect burn wounds.
And there's a huge freezer full of skin - some from organ donors and some from animals.
"It's pig skin basically that's been specially treated, but still alive. It's rejected by the body, but it's a tremendous biological Bandaid, it seals the wound, protects against infection," says Dr. Greenstein.
And there are special tools, like dressings with bits of silver.
"The fluids leaking from the burn release the ionic silver that's the antibacterial agent in it, and this is the only dressing that they need," explains Dr. Greenstein.
Another reason Jacobi is the go to: In an emergency this multi person hyperbaric chamber can be staffed within the hour.
The chamber can hold nine patients. Other chambers in the city typically have space for one.
"We've actually treated more patients here for carbon monoxide poisoning than any other hospital in the United States," says Dr. Michael Touger, medical director of the hyperbaric chamber at Jacobi Hospital. "The room is closed and pressurized to about three times normal atmosphere pressure. And that accelerates the elimination of carbon monoxide from body tissues and lessens the damage they can do."
The burn unit opened in 1958. It's now one of the busiest in the country.