Ultrasound imaging is now available on a regular schedule at St. Joseph’s Hospital in the city.
“We now have a fulltime sonographer on staff. She is a local woman, a recent graduate of the training program, so we can offer ultrasound service Monday to Friday, eight hours a day, which is more than twice what we were able to do before,” said Greg Hoffort, executive director of the hospital, referring to the fact that St. Joe’s had been reduced to receiving parttime sonographic services from an operator who split time between Estevan and Weyburn, when she was available.
Right now, the services are “booked solid,” said Hoffort. “That’s because we were without a full time service for over a year, so this is a vastly improved situation and an additional service to the city and area.”
Over time, the current level of coverage could even be expanded if scheduling can be arranged with the other sonographer who provides services to the Weyburn General Hospital.
Ultrasound is a valuable diagnostic tool for a number of medical procedures, although it is most widely recognized for its use in pregnancies.
“It is used for many abdominal, pelvic and kidney abnormalities,” said Mary Anne Veroba, director of care for St. Joesph’s. “This leads medical teams to further testing, if required, or a treatment program. It’s another valuable tool and it will lead to a substantial reduction in the number of trips to Regina that many patients had to endure before.”
Hoffort and Veroba added the ultrasound equipment, coupled with a new computed tomography (CT) scanner which should be ready to put into service this fall, will give physicians and other caregivers, even more diagnostic tools to help in medical assessments.
So far there is one full-time technician already on staff who is fully trained and certified to operate the CT scanner and one more staff member is in training with the expectation of achieving certification by this fall.
“We’ll add another person for training and really, the ideal situation would be to have four imaging technicians available for X-rays, ultrasounds and CT scans,” Hoffort said.
Reading the images, a service that helps physicians and other medical team members in making decisions and suggestions, can be done off-site.
“The images can be shot on site, but read by another agency or person somewhere else. That’s done all the time. Of course, we would like to have that here along with the equipment service technicians, but for right now, we have X-ray services on site, an ultra sound machine in service that is capable of being used for a variety of medical probes and the CT scanner coming on stream within a few months,” Hoffort said.