Small Town News


Harms Memorial buys new CT scanner

The Aberdeen Times of Aberdeen, Idaho

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Harms Memorial Hospital District is upgrading the hospital with a new sprinkler and fire suppression system, a new computer system, and a 16 slice CT scanner.

The hospital has completed the remodel, installation, and training for the CT scanner, and has begun doing scans for this $350,000 project. So far, eight scans of local residents have been performed.

Part of the remodel needed for the scanner was lining the walls of the former admissions room, including the door, with lead at a weight of four pounds per square foot.

The weight of the scanner itself is 5,000 pounds. The entire room had to be fitted with extra support beams underneath it.

The scanner needs two CPUs, and produces enough heat that it comes with its own cooling system. However, it performs a fast scan. An entire torso can be finished in about ten minutes, so the patient is exposed to much less radiation than with older technology.

The image produced is clear enough, and in such minute detail, that the threads on a screw holding a pin to a bone can be clearly seen. The heads of the screws show clearly on the scan, also. Apparently, doctors prefer to use a Phillips head.

The 3-D image produced by the scanner can be rotated in any direction, or isolate only certain parts of the scanned image, such as only the bone, or only the circulation system, for example.

The 2009 model CT scanner is comparable to equipment in other area hospitals, and the software is the same. The technology can save patients in American Falls time and money, as they no longer will need to go to Pocatello for this sort of testing.

It could potentially save lives. There is no neurosurgeon in Pocatello, so anyone with a head injury must be transported to Idaho Falls or Salt Lake City. However, when leaving from Harms Memorial, patients typically had to go to Pocatello before moving on in order to have a head scan. Now, a person with a head injury can be scanned in American Falls and then sent directly to Idaho Falls or Salt Lake City, if needed. By the time the patient arrives at the hospital, their CT scan has already been seen by that hospital's staff after having been sent on a secure Internet connection, and they could potentially go straight into surgery.

When combined with the modern lab facility and all-digital x-ray, Harms Memorial Hospital District is on a level playing field with Port-neuf Regional Medical Center when it comes to testing. The only limitation of the local facility is surgery.

The CT scanner is located approximately 10 feet from the emergency room. The cost of a scan is calculated to be in the 50th percentile of national costs. The fixed cost to Harms Memorial will go down as more people use the scanner for testing.

The hospital will have an open house for the public to tour the remodeled facility on Thursday, May 13, during Hospital Week.

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Original Publication Date: May 12, 2010

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