By Anna Jauhola
Since 2014, Kittson Healthcare has had the capability to provide CT scans for its patients when needed. As of early this year, the facility has drastically upgraded its service.
For five years, Kittson Healthcare leased a 2008 Phillips Brilliance 16-slice CT scanner. Although it did the job, it was a substandard machine, said Kathy Phelps, radiology manager.
CT stands for computerized tomography and the process is typically used when scanning a patient for trauma. The new machine, a Siemens Somatom Go ALL 64-slice, is state-of-the-art.
“We can literally scan the whole body in less than a minute,” Phelps said. “Most places don’t have this beautiful little gem.”
Phelps said radiation exposure is drastically reduced, the crisp, clear images it takes provide amazing detail for medical staff, and the software used allows technicians to adjust shading so they don’t have to re-expose patients to radiation.
The machine is fast. A regular scan takes less than a minute. If a scan requires dye in a patient’s system, the whole process still only takes about six minutes, and not all that time is spent in the scanner, Phelps said.
“It’s slick, there’s no two ways about it,” she said. “We are so lucky to have this scanner.”
When the scanner was installed earlier this year, it was one of 21 such scanners in facilities across the United States. Noelle Dagen, an X-ray technician and the radiation safety officer at Kittson Healthcare, said the facility is paying roughly half per month for the Siemens machine than it was for the Phillips CT scanner.
“That was our big issue. We loved that scanner but we knew we were a little behind the times,” Dagen said. “We also wanted to save some money.”
In saving that money, the facility is also now providing an advanced service for patients in the nursing homes, the hospital, emergency room and clinic.
For example, if a vehicle crash victim is brought to the ER with injuries, they can be quickly scanned with the Siemens CT and medical staff will be able to more quickly determine a course of action.
“They’ll know if they need to call LifeFlight to have someone airlifted out or if they need an ambulance lined up to get a patient transferred,” Phelps said. “We’ll also have top-notch scans we can forward to Altru, Sanford or the Cities if need be so they don’t have to repeat the scan there.”
As for patients who schedule a CT scan, they no longer have to drive to a larger facility for a superior image. Not only does that save gas money and time, it saves the patient from being re-radiated from a subsequent scan and extra billing because insurance companies often only cover one CT scan within a certain block of time, Phelps said.
“Kittson Healthcare had the foresight and the drive to want to give its patients the very best,” she added.
The CT scanner is available Monday through Friday during regular clinic hours and, of course, is always available through the Emergency Room.
By Anna Jauhola