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New CT scanner at Tyrone Hospital another plus for the surrounding community

Two months ago, when a doctor at the Tyrone Hospital would call for a CT scan, the sighs would erupt. That would mean to get the patient all dressed up in warm clothing, situate the patient needing the scan in a wheelchair, and traveling outside the hospital walls more than 50 yards to the Tyrone Diagnostic Center where the scanner was located.
That all changed Jan. 6 when a new computerized tomography scanner was installed in the radiology department within the hospital. It is located adjacent to the emergency room.
According to the hospital’s director of marketing and public relations Theresa Yanchetz, the current location allows patients easier access to the service.
The machine was purchased from GE Medical Systems for $500,000, and thanks to the fundraising efforts of the Tyrone Hospital Development Council, donated funds were used to help construct and prepare a special room in which to house the unit.
“In fiscal year 2002-03, the CT scanner is the council’s target project,” said Yanchetz. “To date, $18,723.50 has been donated to the CT project. The $18,723.50 represents donations from a variety of individuals, area businesses and social and civic organizations.”
According to Bernard DiGiacobbe, M.S., radiologist at the hospital, the scanner makes use of highly sensitive x-rays and computers to provide detailed pictures of the inside of the body.
“The pictures show cross sectional images of the body and are used to diagnose disease process through changes in anatomy,” said DiGiacobbe. “Doctors use CT to diagnose a whole spectrum of diseases. That is why it is so popular.”
Radiologic technologists at Tyrone Hospital said one of the features of CT is that it photographs the inside of the body in slices. They used an example of a loaf of sliced bread to help explain this multi-slice feature.
“If you look at a loaf of sliced bread, you see the whole loaf. You can’t really see what is inside unless you lift up and look at each individual slice.”
The pictures the new scanner takes are enhanced in that the multi-sliced photos would look more like a stretched out Slinky as compared to the loaf of sliced bread. The difference is that spiral feature and the associated overlap.
Instead of pauses moving from one photo to the next, the spiral feature allows more information to be captured as the scanner moves from photo to photo.
“That overlap feature allows for a broader range of CT studies,” said DiGiacobbe.
According to Yanchetz, the technically advanced, high-speed scanner enhances the hospital’s diagnostic imaging capabilities, thus bringing another positive to the community of Tyrone and surrounding areas.
“The new scanner completes a scan more quickly and generates pictures much faster,” said Yanchetz. “The speed of the scanner means patients are in and out more quickly.”
According to radiologic technologists, a scan that once took 45 minutes to complete can now be done in eight minutes or less. They said it is convenient for people in the community to access this type of testing here locally rather than having to travel out of the area for the scans.
Yanchetz said any physician at the hospital can order a scan to obtain the vital information needed to diagnose a patient. Currently, there are 71 medical staff members affiliated with Tyrone Hospital; however, only five hospital radiologists have been trained on the new unit.
“GE application specialists came to the hospital to do the training,” said Yanchetz, noting that each of the radiologists that were trained already had extensive training with the operation of CT scanners. “The training by GE was to familiarize the technologists with the new unit.”
But what is such a small hospital like Tyrone doing with such an advanced piece of equipment?
Thomas Bartlett, the hospital’s chief executive office, said it’s not rare for a small institution like Tyrone Hospital to have such a machine.
“It would have been rare many, many years ago when CT technology was new to the healthcare industry,” said Bartlett. “These days, CT scanning is so integrated into hospital radiology departments, it has become a standard of care.”