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PMC purchases new x-ray machine


Jess Field / Petersburg Pilot

Sonja Ewing, PMC radiology technologist, showcasing the maneuverability of the radiology department's new x-ray machine.

The radiology department at Petersburg Medical Center (PMC) recently purchased a new x-ray machine in order to continue offering reliable service for patients. Liz Bacom, PMC Laboratory/Imaging Director says the old machine was obsolete after being used for about 15 years. Finding replacement parts started to become difficult, in addition to time spent servicing the machine which created problems for some patients.

PMC purchased the new machine for $100,000. They were able to secure a lease agreement, but not able to find grant money to help defray some of the cost.

"We wanted to maintain our level of care," Bacom says. "We didn't really get anything more sophisticated than what we had before, but it's more technologically advanced."

The department received the machine in early-August, and it has made life for all involved a little easier. With any upgrade in equipment there is a learning curve, but Sonja Ewing, PMC radiologic technologist says learning the new functions and buttons of the machine is well worth it. The importance of an x-ray goes far beyond simply taking a picture, it's the first level of detection, she says.

"It's a physician's first shot of what's wrong inside the body," Ewing says. "Physicians can see what's going wrong or going on through an x-ray and then they can go from there to get a more firm diagnosis if needed."

Ewing says PMC averages around 100 x-rays a month and they can be for anything from a hurt wrist to spinal cord injuries. While a hurt wrist may seem like something small, x-rays can tell if it is broken or not, and the severity of the injury if there is in fact a break. That information helps physicians know if a CAT scan is needed or if immediate surgery would be better. The same can be said for learning the extent of a spinal cord injury and knowing when to explore MEDEVAC options for a patient.

"We want to have good quality images that will minimize the need to transport a patient," Bacom says.

The duration of the x-ray process will not change for patients, but for any patients feeling discomfort or pain, the process will now be much more flexible. Ewing says the floating tube design of the new machine allows it to maneuver and angle in ways the old machine could not. So now, x-rays can be taken with patients lying down or standing up, and anyone coming directly from the Emergency Room can even remain on a gurney so that images can be taken without having to be moved, if necessary.

"I like it, it's a lot smoother moving and I feel like it's working well for us," Ewing says. "It makes sure the technologist gets a clearer image."

Bacom says the new equipment keeps PMC current in the technology, and allows physicians to diagnose images faster. However, PMC's aging facility makes future development difficult, she says.

"The guts of the facility makes it more and more difficult to improve our services," Bacom says.


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