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02/01/2010

Hospital to install new scanning device

By Sean Roney
King City Rustler, January 13, 2010

Diagnostic Imaging Technologist Larry Blanco stands at the entrance to the room with the computerized tomography machine at Mee Memorial's Mobile CT.

New imaging system among multiple advances The new management at Mee Memorial Hospital continues to bring in the change.

Among a list of accomplishments and goals for the hospital at the beginning of the New Year, CEO Lex Smith announced the hospital is in the process of installing a new computerized tomography scanner.

“It’s one of the main tools the emergency room relies on,” said Larry Blanco, assistant manager of the Diagnostic Imaging Department. He described the CT scanner as a device that can image any organ in the body, such as the liver or heart.

“It’ll be a 16-slice CT scanner, which is an upgrade from our single-slice scanner,” said Smith. Smith said the upgrade will increase speed and resolution of the scans. “We’ll be able to do studies that were taking maybe 15 minutes and do those within a couple of minutes. And, we’ll be able to send those pictures directly to the radiologist who will be able to read those on a clearer basis and a faster basis.”

Blanco described the differences as being down to how many images the scanner can take at once. While the single-slicer scanner takes one picture of an organ at a time, a 16-slice scanner takes 16 pictures in that same timeframe.

If an organ needed 32 slices to get a full image, the 16-slice scanner would need to take only two passes, while the single-slice would need 32 passes, Blanco explained.

“With a 16-slice scanner we’ll be able to do different studies that we can’t do with a single-slice,” said Blanco. “It’s going to bring more cases in from our providers outside of the area.”

“It should be installed and operational by the end of January,” said Smith.

Until then, the diagnostic imaging department is going through a big of a shuffle, as the main machine has to be taken out and the new machine brought in and installed. Patients needing scans in that time will be directed to the mobile CT unit, located outside the buildings in a large vehicle featuring stairs that lead up to a technician’s seat and a full CT scanner room.

Additionally, Smith said, “We have several exciting things going into new calendar year. We have a new obstetrics physician going into practice in July, Antonio Viscarra. He’ll be working with VNA hospice but will be a contractor with Mee Memorial.” Viscarra will add his specialties of family practice, obstetrics and end of life care to the Mee roster.

“We’re going through some expansion of our public relations program, highlighting our new physicians coming on board and our new services,” Smith said. “One of our main new services is our orthopedic service that is growing. We now have three orthopedic specialists, so we have orthopedics covered around the clock at Mee Memorial Hospital. Covering our emergency room, our clinics, and available for consultations in the hospital based on a referral basis.”

Additionally, plans are in place to build a strong relationship between Mee Memorial and the UC Davis School of Medicine. “We’re working diligently with our hospital board and medical staff to go forward with our strategic planning,” said Smith. “We are currently entering into a project to establish a relationship with UC David School of Medicine, to designate Mee Memorial Hospital as a rural center of excellence.”

Smith described the long-term objective of the relationship as establishing the King City hospital as a designated provider of rural health care.

One extra item that’s in the works is being able to conduct medical research through the partnership, Smith said.

Speaking of the hospital board, Smith said, “At this current time we are at seven board members.” He said a strategic planning retreat for April is in the works, where new and old board members will be able to have discussions.

Additionally, Smith said two new committees have been formed. “We’ve always had a finance committee and now we’ve extended that into a planning and governance committee and a performance improvement and quality committee. This will allow us to focus on areas of importance.”

Last, but not least, Smith announced the hospital’s new Controller, Terry Copeland, who has relocated to King City from Colorado. Copeland replaces a contractor interim controller at the hospital, and came on board with the hospital about a week before Christmas, Smith said.

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