Not only do they save lives, the CT scanner and radiology team actually make money for the financially-troubled Tuolumne General Hospital.
Most people know it as a “CAT scan”, but at TGH, Computerized Axial Tomography can be used to find health problems before they turn serious.
“It´s non-invasive, the patient walks in and walks out in ten minutes. There´s no needles. We just put electrodes on, and in one breath-hold, we can look at the heart and see whether or not there´s any calcification,” said Doctor David Kelley.
Kelley says with the combination of the technology and expertise they have at TGH, hospital paperwork takes longer than the diagnosis. “We can scan them faster than we can admit them. So the admission process is usually the thing that takes the longest, because the scan is so fast.”
The device can be used to locate blockages in veins or arteries, colon polyps, damaged ligaments, and even predict a patient´s chance of a future heart attack, which can allow the patient to make lifestyle changes to improve his or her health.
“We´ve done a number of test cases within the hospital, and on two occasions, we found significant plaques.”
Dr. Kelley boasts a full head scan takes less than half-a-minute. “Typically we do them in nineteen seconds, but if we need to do a scan fast, we can do one in six seconds.”
Kelley estimates 300 CAT scans are performed per month at Tuolumne General, which has translated into 376-thousand dollars more than their budget predicted for this point in the year.