Valencia teacher Virginia Devalle was terrified. She was having complications from a hysterectomy performed just weeks before and found herself in the newly expanded imaging services department of Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital for a series of diagnostic tests.
As Devalle lay upon the hospital’s new 64-slice computerized tomography scanner, she began to relax a bit. The gleaming white machine, which has a table that moves the patient slowly into a short cylindrical tube, was surprisingly easy to navigate.
“I didn’t have to contort myself at all. I had to roll certain ways, but it wasn’t uncomfortable,” she recalled. “The machine was all new and the information on the screens showed me what the staff was seeing. I liked that I could see what was going on in my body, that the staff could say what areas were being imaged.”
Patient satisfaction was one of the key components of Henry Mayo’s imaging services expansion. Plans for the expansion, which began in December, 2003, included upgrading the department’s equipment with state-of-the-art technology, and to also provide staff and patients with a more satisfactory experience through new office, lounge, and waiting room areas.
“The actual construction started in 2007. Fortunately, we were able to plan each phase of the upgrade so that no services were ever disrupted or functionality lost,” said Connie Hage, RT, CRA, director of Imaging and Cardiology at Henry Mayo.
Hage focused on the special procedures suite and CT scanner first, followed by a digital technology room and radiology/fluoroscopy room. Equipment such as Nuclear Medicine, Ultrasound, Treadmills and Electrocardiogram machines were all replaced to the newest technologies available.
“Besides the expediency, high clinical quality and digital aspects, our new department is truly a showcase. All of the new equipment is from Philips Medical Systems and they bring potential clients here to show off the equipment, which is a huge testimony to the capabilities of our facility,” Hage said.
The expansion has also been pleasing to the community and the hospital staff, as Robert Sanchez, RT, CT technologist, illustrated.
“Our department is still a very busy place, but the expansion has relieved some of the previous backup. We’re now able to get the same four exams done per patient in half the time. Traumas are now completed in 20 minutes of 45 minutes to an hour, and breath holds have been reduced to ten seconds from 50. It’s a tremendous difference,” Sanchez said.
The first phase of the expansion was completed in April, 2008, and allowed the hospital to offer many life-saving specialized diagnostic procedures, such as diagnostic heart catheterizations, and an array of new special procedures with interventional exams.
A radiographic fluoroscopy room was added in 2009, as well as a brand new corridor, dressing room, bathroom, and an office. A computerized radiographic fluoroscopy unit assists physicians with minor special radiology and intervention procedures.
“Fluoroscopy is often used to observe the esophagus, stomach, small intestine and colon, and is also used during many diagnostic and therapeutic radiologic procedures such as myelography, vascular access procedures, and ERCP exams,” said Richard Goldman, MD.
“Visualizing the invisible is what is accomplished by this technology,” stated Hage. “We also purchased new Fluoroscopy C-arms and mobile equipment for portable work as well. The patient benefits with this new system with our ability to obtain and store accurate images of their internal organs in a more timely fashion.”
The entire imaging department was updated to have access to the hospital’s PACS system, which digitally captures diagnostic images viewed directly and almost instantaneously by physicians throughout the hospital. They also utilize a voice recognition system to almost instantly dictate the interpretations for the ordering physicians.
Devalle was particularly appreciative of this feature.
“Going to Henry Mayo wasn’t just convenient because it was close to my house; it was easy because the hospital had all the records they needed. The transporters just rolled me from the different departments. I was really grateful that I didn’t have to go to Los Angeles for treatment. Everything was right there,” she said.
Radiology supervisor Doug Sprague, RT, cited PACs as his favorite new feature because it cut out film processing, a timely process that was especially cumbersome when dealing with emergency room patients.
Sprague was also excited about the spacious new rooms in his department, as well as the new equipment.
“The rooms enable us to move around and get different views. It’s easier for patients who can’t lay on their side, since our equipment now conforms to them,” he said. “I’ve been here a number of years and I’m amazed to see where we’re at now compared to where we came from. Our imaging department is just incredible now.”
Final phases of the hospital’s imaging expansion were completed late 2009 and included another digital radiographic room, an imaging/cardiology lounge, offices, a hallway, and new bathrooms.
“It’s a wonderful department and one of the first things patients mention, even if they don’t feel well, is that it’s bright, clean and beautiful,” Hage said. “What pleases me most is seeing the physicians, imaging team, and the patients so enthusiastic about the upgrades and advanced technology.”