Administrators and physicians from The Memorial Hospital are researching the feasibility of purchasing a new computed tomography machine, or the hospital's "workhorse in diagnostic imaging."
Dr. Catherine Crowe, TMH acting chief of staff, told the hospital board Wednesday night the current machine is antiquated and should be considered for replacement.
CT, sometimes called CAT scan, uses X-ray equipment to obtain images from different angles around the body and al-lows radiologists to more easily diagnose medical problems such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, infectious disease, trauma and musculoskeletal disorders.
The TMH CT machine is six years old, radiologist Frederick Jones said. On average, about 120 patients per month are diagnosed with the machine.
Crowe said the hospital's medical staff has expressed concern about the insufficiency of the current machine. The topic was discussed during the Jan. 23 joint conference committee meeting -- a panel comprised of hospital administrators and health care professionals.
Jones said a new CT machine could cost between $700,000 and $1 million.
Although a costly expense, a new machine would improve patient care and quality service, said George Rohrich, TMH chief executive officer.
"This is one of the most expensive pieces of equipment (at TMH)," he said. "But we believe it's important."
Rohrich told the board Wed-nesday hospital officials would begin researching funding op-tions and the type of CT mach-ine that would adequately meet patient needs.
Jones said hospital officials had been considering purchasing a new CT machine to coincide with the completion of its proposed new facility. However, the question now is, "do we move sooner?"
Jones said a new CT machine would give radiologists a better perspective on potential patient maladies.
"We can do the same, better and faster," he said of a new CT unit. He also said a new machine would be particularly helpful with complex and large trauma cases.
The radiologist said purchasing a new CT unit is similar to buying a new computer after six years. The old computer still functions, but a newer machine with current technology operates on a higher level.
"It's just the normal evolution," he said.
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