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Hospital first in Australasia to get scanner

4 November 2004

HB Hospital first in Australasia to get new 40-channel CT scanner

Packing crates are starting to clutter up the corridors around Hawke’s Bay Hospital’s radiology department as components of the DHB’s new state of the art 40-channel CT scanner are arriving in preparation for installation this weekend.

The scanner is the most advanced CT scanner to be installed in Australasia, and according to Hawke’s Bay District Health Board’s head of Specialist Radiology Services, Dr Sean Skea, the new machine is streets ahead of the DHB’s current model, which is a modest nine-year old ‘single-channel’ model. This new technology is a quantum leap ahead of previous CT technology.

“The purchase of this machine has been made possible through a most generous $1.6 million donation from a private Hawke’s Bay Trust, the Weem Trust, which was established from the Estate of the late Tom McCormack.

The establishment of the “Tom McCormack CT Suite” will honour the memory of a local farming identity who passed away in 2002 after losing his battle with cancer.

“Tom said Hawke’s Bay treated him well, and it was his wish that he could put something back in to the community,” said board chair, Kevin Atkinson. “The purchase of this machine will certainly make a huge difference for Hawke’s Bay people,” he said.

Head of Hawke’s Bay District Health Board’s Specialist Radiology Services, Dr Sean Skea, said the installation of the new scanner was fantastic news for patients. “It also adds to our current line-up of a state of the art MRI and digital imaging suite making us a leading provider of radiological services in New Zealand.

“For someone with suspected bowel cancer, the total scan time with the new machine will be 6-7 minutes, rather than the current 20. This is an incredible improvement - for a restless or anxious patient, this could mean that they don’t have to be sedated or anaesthetised; with faster scan times there’s less overall exposure to radiation, and importantly, images are much clearer which leads to earlier and more accurate diagnosis and treatment.

“Someone coming in with a major traumatic injury would currently spend up to 30 minutes being scanned – with the new machine, it will take less than ten minutes, and the images we get will be much sharper and easier to read.

“In many cases patients who currently have to travel out of the district for diagnostic assessment will be able to have scans in Hawke’s Bay. Due to new tools, we’ll be able to do radiotherapy planning in Hawke’s Bay rather than having to send people to Palmerston North,” Dr Skea said. This would mean one less trip to Palmerston for patients requiring radiotherapy.

Another positive spin-off for HBDHB’s specialist radiology service is the ‘magnet’ effect new technology has on attracting staff. “We will be one of the best equipped units in the country, and having the only 40-channel scanner in New Zealand will be a real draw-card for staff who will receive additional training to operate the new scanner,” Dr Skea said.

It is expected the new CT scanner will be up and running early next week. An official celebration to mark the opening of the Tom McCormack CT suite is planned for early December.


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