By Vivian Collings
Haliburton Highlands Health Services receives long-awaited news that diagnostic imaging can be brought to the Haliburton Hospital to serve local patients.
Approval was recently granted for the purchase and operation of a CT scanner and CT mammography unit to be installed in the spring of 2024 at a cost of approximately $3.5 million.
The announcement was made on Friday, July 7 in the space where both pieces of equipment will be installed at HHHS in Haliburton.
“We know that early detection and diagnosis of a health issue is more than just a matter of convenience, it has immense benefit on a person’s quality of life, prognosis, and treatment path,” said Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock MPP Laurie Scott. “And with this new equipment, people in Haliburton County and the surrounding areas can expect to receive quicker access to the diagnostic imaging services they need closer to home.”
HHHS said the equipment will relieve strain on local paramedic services and help attract more medical staff to the Highlands.
“Next spring, how we deliver care locally will change,” said acting president and CEO of HHHS Veronica Nelson. “For example, if your parent, sibling, or your friend falls and hits their head and they require a CT scan, they will no longer have to be sent by ambulance to the nearest CT scanner over an hour away. Instead, they will be wheeled down this hall into this room to have their CT in that corner.”
The results will be electronically sent to a radiologist.
The local emergency physician can contact a neurosurgeon to access the images at the same time.
“Similarly, when it comes to mammography, it is one of the most effective ways of detecting breast cancer in women,” Nelson said.
Nelson said this unit will serve 6,000 at-risk women in the county.
“This is actually better than Christmas for us,” said chief of Haliburton County Paramedic Services Tim Waite. “I can’t emphasize enough how truly game-changing this is for paramedic services. Presently, we transport over 350 patients a year to alternate facilities to receive this specialized diagnostic care. That represents over 2,000 hours that ambulances are outside of the county.”
Waite said ambulances can now spend more time in the county attending 911 calls.
“This is something that’s been on our wishlist for some time and will go a long way towards our efforts to recruit and retain physicians to our area,” said Highlands East Mayor and Haliburton County Councillor Dave Burton. “Hopefully we can see much improved response times within the county.”
Some HHHS staff members will take extra training to help operate the new equipment, but new staff will also need to be hired.
HHHS is hoping to replace current diagnostic imaging equipment from fundraising efforts made by the foundation.
“This approval now advances our plans for our major capital campaign. I look forward to providing more information about the campaign planning progress in the near future,” said executive director of HHHSF Melanie Klodt-Wong.