Homer Hospital eyeing more modern CT Scanner

Posted: Monday, May 15, 2006

Equipment for creating three-dimensional images of the body’s internal structure at South Peninsula Hospital is aging and needs to be replaced.

The images built by the existing Computed Tomography (CT) Scanner have been invaluable tools for diagnoses since the device was installed in 1998.

It has, however, already lasted two years beyond its expected lifespan.

Tuesday at its meeting in Seward, the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly introduced an ordinance to approve a lease-purchase deal for a new scanner, as well as a new system for managing the digital images it produces called a Picture Archiving Communication System, or PACS.

The ordinance would authorize Mayor John Williams or his designee to enter a capital lease agreement with whichever financial institution offers the lowest financing costs through a formal competitive bidding process.

The ordinance is set for a public hearing on June 6.

Hospital Administrator Charlie Franz said the existing scanner still functions well and profitably, but technology available in newer models will allow the hospital to offer services beyond those for which the current machine was made.

The hospital has estimated replacing the current machine would result in $1.57 million more to the hospital over the new scanner’s five-year lifespan.

Among the procedures the new machine would permit the hospital to perform is CT angiography, essentially taking pictures of the heart for diagnosing blockages and other things, Franz said.

“It may help us help some patients avoid going to Anchorage for standard, invasive angiography,” he said. “It will also give us a much better quality of images, and it’s a lot quicker.”

The old machine could be sold or used as a trade-in depending on how and with who a deal is structured.

If a deal is approved, the new CT Scanner could be operational sometime in June. Franz said it would require shutting down and removing the old machine and installing the new one, a project that might take about two days.

“We’ve been talking about this for a couple of years,” Franz said, “but we delayed purchase until prices got more competitive, more affordable.”

Two years ago, a new machine would have run about $3 million. Today, the estimated cost is about half that amount.

The rest of the $2 million authorized by the ordinance will go for installation costs and to purchase the image archiving software and hardware, Franz said.

Neither South Peninsula Hospital Inc. nor the South Peninsula Hospital Service Area has sufficient funds to purchase the new machines.

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