A fundraising campaign has been launched to replace the outdated X-ray machine at the Prairie Health Care Centre in Cabri with the latest digital radiology equipment.
The Dr. Noble Irwin Regional Healthcare Foundation is partnering with the Cabri Hospital Auxiliary to raise $250,000 for a new digital X-ray machine that will offer state-of-the art technology to area residents in their own community.
The Healthcare Foundation hosted a virtual meeting via video conference on Jan. 12 to launch the fundraising campaign.
Foundation Executive Director Jim Dekowny noted at the start of the virtual meeting that campaign launches will usually take place in the community, but this was not possible due to the COVID-19 public health measures.
The X-Ray room at the Prairie Heath-Care Centre performs an average of 247 X-rays per year. He therefore felt the replacement of the old machine will help to achieve the Saskatchewan Health Authority’s goal to provide healthcare services locally to communities.
“The care needs to stay close to home,” he said. “I think upgrading this X-ray machine is doing that. The care in the Cabri area, the Abbey area, is staying close to home. So that's a real good thing.”
Colleen Wallis, the president of the Cabri Hospital Auxiliary, said the need for a new X-ray machine was identified two years ago when her organization spoke to the Prairie Health Care Centre about their equipment needs.
“So we felt an X-ray machine is an extremely important piece of equipment that we need at the Health Care Centre,” she mentioned. “Many of us have stories of going in, getting the X-rays and then our doctors not accepting them, because they're not up to grade for what the doctors want now.”
The Hospital Auxiliary started talking to the Healthcare Foundation and Dekowny came to a meeting in Cabri to discuss the idea of a fundraising campaign.
“We talked to him about it and he said we can get that off the ground,” Wallis told the meeting. “So now here we are two years later and we're going to do it. We're off the ground and we're really looking for everyone's support to get this going.”
The campaign got off to a good start during the virtual meeting with announcements of $25,000 donations each by the Cabri and District Lions Club and the Town of Cabri.
Jim Moen announced the $25,000 donation by the Cabri and District Lions Club, which was made possible due to support from South West Terminal (SWT).
“We gratefully acknowledge the support of SWT, who's the major sponsor of our Lion's farm project,” he said. “It's because of the SWT's ongoing support that we're able to make this pledge. So we're certainly excited about this project.”
Mayor David Gossard announced the Town of Cabri’s donation during the virtual meeting. He noted that the Town has always been a big supporter of the Prairie Health Care Centre.
“We actually own the clinic and we rent it back to the Health Authority,” he said. “And we were very involved in getting moved out of the old clinic into the new one, and we helped them get the day care fired up. So we've been very active in the community.”
A Town of Cabri council meeting took place the night before the digital X-ray fundraising campaign kickoff, and councillors approved the $25,000 donation.
“The interesting thing about this is this is not money that's going to have to come out of raised taxes or anything,” he said. “This is money that came out of the sale of the mall in downtown Cabri, the little strip mall we owned at one time, and we sold it. And so we've been giving out that money.”
Larissa Gader, the health services manager at the Prairie Health Care Centre, and Candace Blake, the nurse practitioner at the facility, spoke during the meeting about the benefits of a digital radiology system.
Gader previously worked as a lab technician at the Prairie Health Care Centre. She is therefore familiar with the limitations of the current X-ray machine, which is outdated and still using film exposures. She said it is becoming increasingly difficult to find cards for the existing machine.
“That's a big reason why a new X-ray machine is needed,” she noted. “Our processor is the same. So when you do X-rays with film, it has to go through certain chemicals in order for us to view the image. It's hard to maintain those chemical levels. It's a lot of work, and with film you don't have as many grayscales. So that means that you can't see the image as clear, you can't see things on the image that you need to see as a practitioner.”
Digital radiology technology captures image data without the use of film or computed radiology cassettes. There are flat panel detectors that receives and converts the radiation into a digital image, which can be displayed at a computer workstation in an instant.
“Your practitioner can make way better diagnosis with that,” she said. “And the way that's send to other professionals through a system called PACS [Saskatchewan Picture Archiving and Communication System] is almost like an app you have on your phone. It's secure and you can send those images to different practitioners as needed.”
Blake felt the change to digital X-ray technology at the Prairie Health Care Centre is needed, because it has become the standard of care.
“The reason that our number is surprisingly low for how many X-rays were probably done in Cabri last year is because a lot of more fine X-rays or things that are harder to look for require a digital film,” she said. “The radiographers that are reading the X-rays no longer study film and lots of people are really not familiar with film. So they can't manipulate the image on a computer screen the same or at all with a film X-ray as they can with digital X-rays.”
The need for quality X-rays means a significant number of Cabri area residents currently have to travel to other healthcare facilities for radiology services. She felt the number of X-rays done at the Prairie Health Care Centre will probably quadruple if the facility receives a digital radiology system.
Even when X-rays are done at the moment on the machine at the Prairie Health Care Centre, the older technology means it takes longer to evaluate the results.
“Digital X-rays just make the timeline so much faster,” Blake said. “So within minutes the radiologist can see it. As soon as it is downloaded the specialist can see it, and what that means for us is we can make the plan and hopefully limit extra travel on a lot of different fronts, which the whole goal of primary healthcare is to bring as much to you as we can in your home community to prevent any extra travel or repeat exposure.”
Dekowny gave an assurance during the virtual meeting that all funds raised during this campaign will remain in the community. If the campaign raises more than the amount needed to purchase a digital X-ray machine, the remaining funds will be used for other healthcare needs at the Prairie Health Care Centre.
Information about the campaign has been send out to local authorities and Hutterite colonies in the area serviced by the Prairie Health Care Centre. Since the fundraising kickoff the R.M. of Riverside No. 168 made a donation of $10,000 towards the campaign.
Donations to the “Cabri Digital Radiology System Campaign” can be made online at the Dr. Noble Irwin Regional Healthcare Foundation website (www.drirwinfoundation.com). Donations in person or by mail can be made to the Healthcare Foundation. The physical and postal address is: 2051 Saskatchewan Drive, Swift Current, Saskatchewan, S9H 0X6. For more information, contact the Healthcare Foundation office at 306-778-3314.