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New imaging machine is top of the line


April 12, 2018

Justin Harris

LATEST TECHNOLOGY - Diagnostic Imaging Manager Steve Flerchinger points out the features of Clark Fork Valley Hospital's new x-ray imaging machine.

In technology, progress is the name of the game. And in the rural hospital setting, keeping an edge on the tech game has been the priority at Clark Fork Valley Hospital. The latest example of that strategy is the recent acquisition of new equipment in the imaging department of the hospital – an acquisition that puts CFVH ahead of the game, even compared to large regional hospitals.

"This is state of the art, top of the line equipment. The most advanced presently available in the world," said Diagnostic Imaging Manager Steve Flerchinger. "We are pretty fortunate to have this type of technology – Kalispell Regional is just now looking into getting this equipment."

The Hi-Resolution Shimadzu G4 is an x-ray imaging machine that is more than a device, but an actual room with a separate shielded room with multiple computers and controls for techs to get the highest quality images available of patients' internal health situations. CFVH's seven-member imaging team has been finding their sea legs on the new equipment, but Flerchinger said the user-friendly simplicity of the equipment has the techs trying to find out the limits of what it can do, not relearning basic operations.

Shopping for the equipment was a challenge, but a fun one according to Flerchinger, "I went all over the country to see our options. The technology has become so accessible that it was like a poor man trying to decide which of four Cadillacs to buy. Years ago, the top of the line would have been out of reach – much like a the idea of a teen with a cell phone 25 years ago."

Flerchinger, who has been with CFVH for 11 years, noted that the G4 takes much higher quality images than the machine that was replaced and exposes patients to much less radiation. "That is important, especially for those who must regularly have images taken – radiation just builds up and doesn't have a chance to lessen with regular recurring exposure," explained Ferchinger.

The G4 rings up between $400,000 and $500,000 – and is worth every penny for the lives that it will help enhance. The replaced machine was becoming so outdated, it was nearly impossible to find parts when repairs were necessary.

"We were looking ahead with this machine," noted Flerchinger. "It is estimated that this setup will be relevant for at least 15 years and will be compatible with new software upgrades as they come along."

The purchase was a package deal with all the bells and whistles. Joystick controls and ease-of-use coordinate settings, hi-resolution monitors, superior image capture technology at 15 frames per second, and a portable version of the device for emergency room settings where a patient cannot be moved but internal assessment for the doctor or surgeon must be be provided.

An ergonomic table can handle 700 pounds and can be lowered for a patient – rather than lifting the patient as with the old machine. Similar to the 'share' button on social media, an image can be immediately delivered to another hospital if needed.

The equipment upgrade is similar in technological leaps to the CT Scanner acquired two years ago. Flerchinger said they pride themselves as a small rural hospital on keeping up with the times to provide the best care possible.

"We've had that scanner two years, and the bigger surrounding hospitals are just now getting one. CFVH now has the highest tech available in the world – before the bigger nearby healthcare facilities are able," he said, "I think that says a lot about the commitment of CFVH to patients in the community. And we, as an imaging team, are very proud of what we are able to do to make everyone in the facility more effective and efficient."


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