Sunshine Coast patients who need an echocardiogram may no longer have to hop a ferry and travel to Lions Gate Hospital.
A new echocardiography service was officially launched last week at Sechelt Hospital. Services will be offered one day a week with the expectation to increase the frequency over time.
“This is exciting and important, and truly represents a patient-centred approach to care,” says Lauren Tindall, Director, Sunshine Coast. “Fewer patients will need to travel and service will be available on an emergent basis for inpatients resulting in improved time to diagnosis.”
Lauren credits Nancy Shamess, Medical Imaging site co-ordinator at Sechelt Hospital, for the much-needed service getting off the ground.
“Nancy has been instrumental in leading the Sechelt team in meeting the accreditation standards and Ministry of Health requirements to get this new program up and running,” says Lauren.
Echocardiography, or echo, is a painless test that uses sound waves to create moving pictures of a patient’s heart which provides better assessment than a static X-ray image. The pictures show the size and shape of your heart, and how well your heart’s chambers and valves are working.
With the Sunshine Coast being a retirement community, there is a heavier burden of cardiac disease among the population.
With the new service in place, patients will travel less often to LGH where the waitlist for the service can be up to six months.
Nancy spent about two years preparing for the new service, which will have positive impacts on the Sunshine Coast and at LGH, including:
- Reduced need for patients to travel
- Reduced wait times for exams
- Increased expertise on the Sunshine Coast
- Reduce demand on LGH cardiography services
- Reduce health care costs
“We’ve been sending patients to North Vancouver for examinations – sometimes by ambulance which means also sending a staff member from nursing to support the patient while waiting for exam at the receiving hospital,” says Nancy, who oversaw the purchasing and upgrading of new equipment, accreditation for the new service and credentialing of reading physicians as well as scheduling staff visits to LGH for three weeks of training.
“We are grateful to the assistance of Lions Gate Hospital who assisted in refresher training for our team,” says Lauren. “All of this is possible because of the generosity of the Sunshine Coast Healthcare Auxiliary. They purchased new ultrasound machines including the technology and equipment for the service.”
Celebrating the launch of the new echocardiography service at Sechelt Hospital are Sunshine Coast Health Care Auxiliary (SCHA) members (left to right): Gerry Nimmo and Gail Bennett, hospital ultrasonographer Kasia Krolikowskat, echo booking clerk Jen Graham, SCHA president Vicky Forest, and Nancy Shamess, Medical Imaging site coordinator.