“Most patients don’t realize that WLMH doesn’t have a CT. When they find out they need to go somewhere else for their scan, they’re appreciative to get it done, but often shocked.”
This is a common experience for Kathy Harstone. Most patients who present to the emergency department (ED) and require a CT scan will be accompanied by a nurse for the ride to either the Hamilton General Hospital or Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre site. Harstone, a WLMH ED nurse of 15 years, has made the trip down the QEW dozens – possibly more than 100 – times.
“Patients will come to the ED and we will run a number of tests on site, depending on the situation. If it’s determined that a CT scan is needed, that kick starts the process of arranging a CT,” said Harstone, noting common ailments requiring a CT include abdominal pain, shortness of breath and the result of falls.
Process takes lots of planning
The process has been streamlined over the years and the team has it down to an art. Depending on the procedure needed, one of the Hamilton-based hospitals is selected. The ED team will contact the radiology team at the site and request a CT. Once granted, the next step is securing a transport vehicle to bring the patient and nurse to the site. Then the travel takes place.
“Before amalgamating with Hamilton Health Sciences, we used to send CTs all over the place, in Niagara, Haldimand and Hamilton. The process is now standardized and we appreciate the support from the other HHS sites. That said, it’s still a lot of planning to arrange,” said Harstone.
When a nurse has to accompany a patient for CT, the rest of the team in the ED continues providing care, but with one less team member for a period of time.
“Having a CT scanner at WLMH will be a huge help, for patients, their families and the staff. Once it’s up and running, a CT scan will now be about a 15 or 30 minute trip in the building as opposed to the three-to-four hour round trip to Hamilton. It will reduce wait times and travel for patients, and will also decrease stress and strain for nurses and ED clerks arranging the scans,” she noted.
The WLMH CT is scheduled to be up and running by late spring 2021. Construction on the CT suite is well underway.