Henry Ford once said: “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.”
Interior Health and the Shuswap Hospital Foundation have been coming together, keeping together, and working together for many years, to the benefit of a quality care experience for people in the Salmon Arm area.
The latest example of this successful partnership comes through the investment of a new $2 million CT scanner, which was recently installed in Shuswap Lake General Hospital’s medical imaging department. It’s a replacement machine for the hospital’s old CT scanner, which also came courtesy the Foundation a dozen years ago, and it’s going to allow people in the region greater access to scans than they had previously – which will keep their care closer to home.
“I truly am blessed by the relationship we have with the Foundation,” says Kim Mead, professional practice lead in the SLGH imaging department. “The Foundation has always supported the Imaging Department with generosity. I know that when I need something, I can go to them and they accept the challenge graciously. And they come through for us.”
The new CT scanner is a top-of-the-line model that produces high-quality, multiple-image sets faster and with less radiation dose, rather than the single picture provided by the previous machine. As well, a wide field detector allows the scanner to capture the entire heart in a single rotation, in .2 of a second, says Kim.
To the non-professional, all of that tech talk may not mean much. But if, for example, you’re a person having a stroke, the new CT scanner allows the SLGH health care team to diagnose and either treat you right in Salmon Arm, or initiate an immediate transfer to Kelowna for clot-removal surgery, if required.
And that’s exciting for the care teams at SLGH. They expect it to be a busy machine – the original model performed 96,468 scans over the 12-year period it was in service.
Dr. Aron Zuidhof, medical director for the IH Emergency Services Network, says the new scanner will allow emergency department physicians the ability to diagnose and treat a variety of ailments, including stroke, trauma, kidney stones, gout, blood clots in lungs, abdominal issues, and COVID-19. And, it will do so with the ability to “dial down to minimal doses” of radiation, which is particularly important in young children whose bodies are more susceptible to its harms.
“It hugely improves our ability to provide care,” Dr. Zuidhof says. “Having the CT and having Foundation support is a huge bonus for us.”
The bonuses aren’t all in patient care, either. Having top-quality equipment is also a draw for other health-care professionals to the region. When installed in 2009, the original CT scanner operated with just one staff member, Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Now, the medical imaging department has five radiologists, five full-time imaging employees and operates 24-7.
“The generosity of our community continues to assist in advancing the quality of patient care and quality of life here in the Shuswap. The Shuswap Hospital Foundation is proud to be able to support these significant improvements to our health-care facilities,” says Angie Spencer, Foundation board president.
It’s no wonder there’s excitement in the air around the new CT scanner, as well as around another Foundation project that will result in a new $2 million mammography x-ray machine being installed at SLGH in fall 2022. The new equipment will mean breast tissue can be scanned and lumpectomies performed locally, if necessary – providing another service that patients can receive without having to travel to another community.
Photo above: the medical imaging team at Shuswap Lake General Hospital with their new CT scanner