A mobile CT solution in Welland

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Posted Jul 22nd, 2009

When the decision was made to replace Welland Hospital Site’s aging Computed Tomography (CT) unit this summer, diagnostic imaging clinical leaders at the Niagara Health System (NHS) had to come up with a creative way to cover several weeks without a key diagnostic tool. The creative solution has come in the form of a portable CT unit temporarily located outside adjacent to the Emergency Department.

"We knew there would be a five-week renovation and installation period required to replace our current CT." says Bonnie Sipos, Regional Technical Director of Diagnostic Imaging. "Usually, a hospital doing a CT replacement would have to transfer patients to another hospital with a CT. In our case, there were several factors to consider – we estimated about 925 inpatients, emergency patients and outpatients would have to go to Niagara Falls or St. Catharines."

Sipos explains that transferring patients to other sites would require to arranging for a paramedic-equipped ambulance to be at the site for emergency patients requiring a CT scan. "We would also need to provide extra nurses to travel with serious cases and inpatients. We decided to find a better way."

The solution is a rarity in Ontario and indeed Canada. A portable and self-contained CT trailer has been leased for the 5 week period and is now up and running at the Welland Site, parked under a portion of the ambulance canopy off Plymouth Road. The 16-slice CT machine, full computer hardware and software that integrate with the hospital system, a hydraulic lift for stretcher cases, and a transformer for extra electricity needs are all contained in and connected to the trailer, which is in effect a CT department on wheels.

The mobile CT, provided by DMS Interim Solutions, came from New York, as there are currently no such services available for rent in Canada. "We’re pleased that we were able to find this solution and make it work for our community," Sipos says. "Welland CT staff have been amazing as they literally moved the service to the trailer within a day and began scanning patients with the support of DMS as they learned to operate this interim CT. It has allowed us to continue to provide CT services on site for about 30 patients a day eliminating the need for our patients to travel to another site or have their test delayed. "

Diagnostic Imaging started doing CT scans in the mobile unit last week and bright green arrows point patients coming in for their CT appointments down the hall from the Diagnostic Imaging department, where they register, to the outdoor location nearby. At the same time, renovations in the permanent CT suite have begun. The old CT machine, which served the community for 10 years, has been removed and the suite is being renovated to accommodate the new unit. "We’re going from a four-slice CT to a 128-slice CT, so the upgrades needed in the suite are major," Sipos says.

The mobile CT will be onsite until mid August, when renovations will be complete and the new CT will be fully operational. "Hospital services can’t shut down for renovations," Sipos says. "This solution is working well for our patients, our physicians and our staff."

For more information, contact:

Caroline Bourque Wiley
Consultant, Public Affairs
905-378-4647, ext. 43113
cwiley@niagarahealth.on.ca

Niagara Health System