New diagnostic equipment to improve patient care in North Okanagan

Click to play video: 'New CT scanner to improve patient care in the North Okanagan'
New CT scanner to improve patient care in the North Okanagan
A boost for health care in the North Okanagan. Vernon Jubilee Hospital has acquired a new piece of equipment that's increasing access to critical medical imaging exams. As Klaudia Van Emmerik reports, the machine has been in place for several months and is already having a big impact. – Mar 18, 2024

A new multi-million dollar state-of-the-art CT scanner at Vernon Jubilee Hospital (VJH)  is expected to increase access to timely diagnoses and treatments in B.C.’s North Okanagan.

“There isn’t a single area of medicine that CT scans are not used … in neurology for strokes and emergency for strokes and trauma and cardiology, respiratory,” said Dr. Ed Hardy, an oncologist at VJH.

Up until last fall, the hospital only had one CT scanner but now it has two thanks to a successful $6.3 million fundraising campaign spearheaded by the Vernon Jubilee Hospital Foundation (VJHF).

“It’s huge for the region,” said Kate McBrearty, VJH Foundation executive director. “And we have to remember how vast our region is.  We’re a regional hospital so obviously a lot of people, really from around the area will come here for their CT scans now.”

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The impact of the additonal CT scanner is expected to increase access to timely diagnoses and treatments, which in turn means faster and improved patient care.

“I think the major thing … with two scanners we’ll be able to significantly increase our capacity for doing the scans we need,” Hardy said.

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The second CT scanner was brought online in November and there’s already been a 36 per cent increase in the number of scans conducted over the same period when there was just one scanner available.

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“When we had just one scanner, you would have your patients who were scheduled in, but then there’d be a multi-vehicle trauma on the highway or something, which of course is never scheduled and those people would need to be scanned urgently or somebody coming up with stroke and so that would bump your schedule patients because you can’t do both,” Hardy said.

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The new CT scanner comes complete with a new control room, waiting room and office spaces for radiologists. The expansion is also expected to help with recruitment and retention of staff.

“(Students) graduate from school learning on the new machine so they want to use that in their practice and that helps us, you know, when students come. That helps us hire them later on as technologists,” said Arzina Allibhoy, VJH medical imaging professional practice lead.

With two scanners, new programs may now be launched that may benefit patients with certain types of cancer.

“For instance, the lung cancer screening project,” Hardy said.  “There has been good data for a few years that we need to screen people who have been smokers to catch lung cancers early because they’re usually too late but we just haven’t had the capacity to do that. So we’re looking forward to embarking on that.”

The fundraising campaign was publicly launched in 2022 during the annual Light a Bulb appeal.

McBrearty said the foundation reached its goal months ahead of schedule thanks to community generosity including a $1-million anonymous gift.

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