Multi-year overhaul of diagnostic imaging equipment benefits from MES agreement
Change has been a consistent theme at West Lincoln Memorial Hospital over the past few years.
From an equipment perspective, the diagnostic imaging (DI) service has arguably seen the greatest amount of change during this time period. With the operating room renovations in 2020 came the new C-arm machine. Then the site’s first-ever computed tomography (CT) scanner opened for patient care in mid-2021. Immediately after, work got started on upgrading the mammography and two x-ray suites.
“We have all been so excited for so long to get two x-ray rooms open,” said Mindy Chmielewski, senior CT technologist at WLMH. “Prior to the renovation, we had two rooms and machines, but one of the machines could only perform a limited amount of procedures. That machine was also very old and the quality of images was not good. It was stiff and difficult to maneuver, which was a challenge for staff and posed significant risk for injury.”
The first renovated x-ray room opened in fall 2021. The second room became operational on February 14, essentially completing the multi-year DI overhaul at the site.
More machines, more efficiency
“Now that we have two fully functional rooms and machines, we can be far more efficient with patient care. We don’t have to wait for the other technologist to finish, we can just do our exams and get patients on their way,” said Amy Tousignant, senior x-ray technologist.
Chmielewski agrees. “When the emergency department was full and we knew we had a lot of patients requiring x-rays, it seemed like a really daunting task to coordinate in a timely manner with one machine. Now, it’s really easy and reduces stress in our day.”
Renovations, upgrades enhance safety
The x-ray suites themselves also got a makeover. The renovation included safety updates to the paneling inside the walls required to contain the radiation. The team also took the opportunity to reconfigure the space to improve overall function and safety, like adding a control room in between the two suites which lets staff monitor both rooms and easily assist colleagues in either when they need a hand.
“You can tell that function was definitely considered when they planned these renovations,” said Chmielewski, who added that the renovated rooms have received many “oohs and ahhs” from patients.
The new x-ray machines are fully automated meaning limited physical force is needed to operate.
“The ergonomic elements alone are amazing. Technologists are susceptible to injury from repetitive motions, particularly upper back injuries. These rooms and equipment are safer for staff and therefore safer for patients,” added Tousignant.
The renovation also repurposed an existing hallway into a staff room which Chmielewski, Tousignant and their colleagues call, “the team room.”
CT scanner serving the community
The CT scanner saw its first patients in June 2021. Since then, the demand for the service has grown steadily. Currently, it is fully booked pretty much every day.
“We get tons of positive feedback from patients, largely about receiving care closer to home and decreased wait times for service. Patients also love the space and compliment us on the suite and facilities,” said Chmielewski. “We have received thank you cards from patients which I’ve never seen before in my career. It is a very rewarding place to work.”
All of the recent DI equipment has been procured through the landmark Managed Equipment Services (MES) agreement that Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) made with Siemens Healthineers in early 2020. One of the most innovative pieces of the agreement is the built-in service component, which streamlines maintenance and limits machine downtime.
“MES has been really good. Each piece of equipment is labelled with a device ID number and a phone number for tech support. If anything goes wrong, we can easily get a hold of tech support around the clock to troubleshoot or schedule a maintenance call. One call does it all,” said Chmielewski.
Hospital under construction
All of this progress does not come without challenges. The noise and unavoidable chaos which comes with construction has been part of daily life at the site for many years.
“Working in a hospital under construction has been difficult. However, when I started here six years ago, it was clear how bad a state the hospital was in and how much work was needed. Yes, it can be a pain to hear the noise and have your workflow disrupted. But knowing that better things are coming, like the two new x-ray rooms, helps you get through it,” said Tousignant, who was quick to add that the construction team has been extremely courteous and respectful throughout the renos.
Diego Gomez knows this challenge all too well. As the project manager responsible for delivering all MES projects across HHS, he has worked closely with the construction team to sequence the projects at WLMH to minimize disruption while sticking to schedules.
“The feedback we have received about our contractors from staff and end users across the site has been excellent. It takes a lot of coordination from contractors, consultants, Siemens and site staff to execute these projects, but I feel like this is an example of great teamwork achieving great results,” said Gomez, pointing out that every project was completed on time and on budget.
Looking to the future
All of the DI equipment will carry over in to the new hospital. The future has been a shining light for many staff at the site.
“I’ve worked at different places but I’ve never had such a sense of team as I’ve seen here. It’s a positive environment and great atmosphere. We all know that things are going to get better in the new hospital and that the challenges of this building are now temporary. We’re a pretty resilient bunch,” said Tousignant.