Healthcare celebrates cross-border collaboration

Press release

As of Monday October 3, La Verendrye General Hospital (LVGH) was able to perform CT scans on patients using its new Canon Aquilion Prime CT scanner. CT scans assist physicians in assessing, diagnosing, and confirming suspected conditions by capturing images of bones and soft tissues in the body. LVGH’s previous machine was purchased in 2008, and upgraded in 2014. After over a decade of use, it had reached the end of its lifecycle and was in need of replacement.

However, several details complicated the replacement process. Unlike the average kitchen appliance, large medical equipment requires specialized electrical connections; the old machine can’t simply be replaced in a single day. Instead, the process takes 1-2 weeks and involves licensed electricians and representatives from the equipment’s manufacturer to ensure it is properly installed and safe for patients. During that time, neither the old nor the new machine can be used. But because LVGH’s is the only CT scanner in the Rainy River District, replacing it would leave patients and physicians without a critical diagnostic tool for ten days. Any patients urgently requiring a CT during the replacement period would need to travel to Kenora, Dryden or Thunder Bay to receive one. The time required to travel to another district would mean that patients would have to wait longer to be diagnosed and to receive treatment.

Living without a CT scanner nearby for ten days wasn’t an acceptable option to Riverside’s Executive Vice President and head of Clinical Services, Julie Loveday, who said, “A delay in a CT scan would delay treatment which could have an adverse outcome for our community’s patients.” That’s where Rainy Lake Medical Center (RLMC) of International Falls, MN stepped in. After reaching out to them, RLMC quickly agreed to accept LVGH’s patients for CT scans. The two facilities agreed that patients requiring an emergency CT should receive one at RLMC, allowing them to stay closer to home. RLMC’s proximity would mean that patients would be diagnosed and treated more quickly than if they stayed in Ontario. In total, RLMC’s Imaging department performed close to a dozen urgent CT scans on LVGH patients during the 10-day installation period.

“We sincerely thank Rainy Lake Medical Center for the support they provided the Rainy River District during this transition, ultimately a 10-day downtime.  With this support our community still had access to this critical resource,” said Loveday. According to Tiffany Dolyny, lead Medical Radiation Technologist at LVGH, “Having access to the CT scanner at RLMC in International Falls minimized the disruption in service during our CT downtime. We would not have been able to do this without the cooperation of all departments and agencies involved. Having this agreement saved extensive travel [time] for patients.”

In appreciation of their partnership, Riverside Health Care presented RLMC Imaging department staff with a basket full of Canadian favourites. Treats included Tim Horton’s coffee, ketchup chips and Aero bars, among other goodies.

Riverside Health Care would also like to extend their gratitude to everyone involved in planning and implementing the installation of the new CT, including Nikolas Jourdain of NJ Construction for performing renovations and painting CT room, Dave Woodgate at Revco for installing new flooring, Nick Mysko and Jason Corbett of Canon Medical Equipment for their assistance during planning and installation, the Rainy River District Social Services Administration Board Land Ambulance for transporting patients across the border, Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre PACS for providing technical assistance, CritiCall Ontario and Telestroke for their support, the LVGH Diagnostic Imaging staff for their flexibility and enthusiasm, and to all the dedicated nurses and physicians of Riverside who cared for our patients.

Riverside Health Care’s President and CEO, Henry Gauthier, expressed a special thanks to the “Riverside Health Care Foundation, Picture This Campaign Committee, and the residents of the Rainy River District for their commitment and support to diagnostic services which are essential in the delivery of quality care. Their dedication and fund-raising efforts for this initiative made this undertaking a reality.”