How this Saskatoon hospital will give your family the best patient experience possible
Richard Dagenais, manager of medical imaging at Saskatoon City Hospital, compares some of the equipment in his department to a car from the late 1990s.
It doesn’t have Bluetooth, satellite signals or great fuel economy, and it’s not as comfortable or reliable as the latest models. It works for now, but you wouldn’t want to take it on a long road trip.
“Just like cars, medical imaging has changed drastically in the last 20 years,” Dagenais says. “We want to make sure that we’re able to offer the best care possible by using the best equipment.”
Every year, 50,000 medical imaging procedures are performed at Saskatoon City Hospital, helping doctors accurately diagnose and effectively treat a wide variety of conditions from broken bones to cancer.
Some of the equipment is starting to show its age, and upgrades would lead to shorter wait times and improved patient care.
To this end, the Saskatoon City Hospital Foundation has launched a $1.5-million campaign to upgrade the fluoroscopy suite and purchase a new portable X-ray machine.
“It’s absolutely critical equipment,” says Dagenais. “For many patients, this is the necessary next step on the road to diagnosis and figuring out what’s going on.”
Fluoroscopy is an imaging procedure that allows clinicians to see live X-ray images on a screen, sort of like watching an X-ray movie.
“We want to make sure that we’re able to offer the best care possible by using the best equipment.”
Often, dye is used to see what’s going on in the body in real time, making fluoroscopy a powerful diagnostic tool.
For example, a stroke patient who is having trouble swallowing may be given applesauce with dye, allowing clinicians to see the mechanics of what’s happening and determine the source of the problem.
The equipment is also used for inserting catheters, joint injections and several obstetric procedures that help women with fertility challenges.
“The fluoroscopy unit is used (to treat and care) for hundreds…of people every year,” Dagenais says. “You or someone you know will need this kind of exam at some point in the future.”
Which is why it’s important to ensure that the hospital has the best possible equipment. The fluoroscopy suite at the hospital is more than 18 years old and in urgent need of replacement. It’s susceptible to breaking down, and parts are very hard to find because of how old the models are.
Newer and more advanced procedures, such as complicated joint injections, are very difficult to conduct on the aging equipment. A new unit would offer more advanced imaging technology and more accurate results which leads to faster care and less procedure time, Dagenais says.
Thousands of patients would also benefit from a new portable X-ray machine. Often, patients are not well enough to visit the medical imaging department for an X-ray, or they’re in the middle of another treatment, so a portable unit comes in handy.
However, the existing machines have been in use for 25 years, and the technology is impractical, Dagenais says.
Once an X-ray image is captured using the current equipment, it has to be processed in the medical imaging department and then shared with the physician. If there is something wrong with the image, they need to start over again.
“It’s a five-minute delay, and depending on why the images are needed, five minutes can actually be a big deal,” Dagenais says.
For example, if a doctor is trying to stabilize a patient and wants to make sure a tube they’re inserting is in the right place, they will have to wait five minutes to see the image. If the tube isn’t placed correctly, they will have to start all over again.
The new digital system allows sharper images to be viewed immediately right on the equipment.
“Within the hospital, we see every day the difference that this campaign could make,” Dagenais says.
To help the Saskatoon City Hospital purchase the new equipment, donate online at SCHFdonate.com, over the phone at 306-655-8489 or 1-800-603-4464 or in person at the foundation office.