HCMC adds high-tech CT scanner

HCMCCTSCANNERP4167423.jpg
HCMCCTSCANNERP4167423.jpg

Mike Ryan and Billie Keuser review some of the features of the new CT scanner installed earlier this month at HCMC. Don Ratzlaff / Free Press

Hillsboro Community Medi?cal Center completed a major equipment upgrade earlier this month with the installation of a new 16-slice computed axial tomography?CT or CAT?scanner.

The scanner will give doctors and radiologists significantly more detailed results, in a much faster time and with much less radiation exposure for patients, according to Mike Ryan, HCMC chief executive officer.

?It?s a huge improvement for the hospital and the community,? he said. ?Our ability to serve the medical needs of area residents has been greatly enhanced.?

With the addition of previously installed equipment, the hospital will vastly reduce the time needed for doctors and staff to review patient radiology scans. And HCMC staff can send them electronically for review by a specialist almost anywhere in the world in a matter of seconds.

The former film-based process used at HCMC would require several minutes simply to develop a single scan. If the purpose for a scan was relatively routine, the hospital would hold them until specialists from Emporia would stop by on a twice-weekly basis to read them.

Now, the much more detailed digital images are produced in a fraction of the time and can be transmitted in seconds to almost any specialist.

The first phase of the upgrade, completed late last year, was the installation of the computed radiology (CR) equipment that does the initial digital scanning.

The second phase was installing the ?picture archiving and communication system,? or PACS, a computer network dedicated to the storage, retrieval, distribution and presentation of the images.

With the recent installation of a 16-slice CT, or CAT, scanner, the project is now complete.

Ryan said the speed of the new scanner will be helpful to patients, which are required to hold their breath and refrain from movement while the scan is under way.

?You can?t hold your breath for several minutes, for a few seconds you can?and you get a much better image when you do that,? Ryan said.

The scanner also is equipped with voice input that can both instruct and soothe the patient during the scanning process.

?We can talk to them and we can we can also hear them,? said Billie Keuser, HCMC radiologist. ?It takes a while to set things up and people used to think we abandoned them. Now we tell them that there?s a speaker there and if they are frightened they can say something.?

HCMC has also added a new high-tech injector unit, which is used to track blood flow for certain kinds of scans.

The unit also has an electronically retractable ?bed? that makes it easier to maneuver patients into the exact position needed for scanning. It also is a stronger system, able to handle patients weight up to 450 pounds. The old unit was limited to someone who weighed around 250 pounds.

The cost of the equipment upgrade at HCMC will be about $510,000, plus a PACS fee based on usage.

?It will be well worth the investment for the improved quality of care we can provide at HCMC,? Ryan said.

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