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New ultrasound unit in operation at Pagosa Mountain Hospital

Chris Savoy is the new director of ancillary services at Pagosa Mountain Hospital.

Savoy has been on the job two weeks and arrived at the same time as a new Phillips IU22 Ultrasound Unit. He is also the hospital’s radiologist and was integral in researching and choosing the ultrasound unit for the facility. The machine is top of the line, and loaded with 2011 software.

Before the arrival of the ultrasound unit, patients needing this service were sent to hospitals outside the area, or waited for Lifeline (a mobile screening van) to make a monthly visit to the local hospital.

Now, patients needing an echo (image of their heart) can be treated locally. Expectant mothers can receive 3-D images of their unborn child. Unlike other imaging units such as X-ray machines, an ultrasound unit doesn’t involve radiation. Savoy said it uses sound waves to capture an image and, because of this, it has become a more popular form of imaging for patients. The unit is also compact and portable so it can be taken to patients if they aren’t ambulatory.

The Pagosa Mountain Hospital does not have a cardiologist on staff who can read an image of a heart, but the hospital has a direct, encrypted portal to a hospital in Denver where a cardiologist receives the image, and before the end of the day the radiology department in Pagosa has a response. Many times the response arrives within a few hours.

The new ultrasound unit isn’t the only state-of-the-art equipment in the radiology department. The X-ray room is also new, with digital imaging capabilities, offering fast and accurate service.

Pagosa Mountain Hospital is a “community oriented service business,” said Savoy, and the goal is to provide high quality services to the patients the staff serves. The hospital will continue to grow; there are plans to offer cataract surgery in the near future and sometime thereafter general surgery services, as they become economically feasible.

Savoy has also been working with Kelly Johnson, administrative coordinator at The Wellness Center, to initiate cooperative efforts in an attempt to offer a preemptive screening program to Wellness Center participants, utilizing the ultrasound unit.