Putting Patients First grant program underway

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Putting Patients First grant program underway

by Heather Mayer, DOTmed News Reporter | August 27, 2010
The deadline to apply is Oct. 15.
The Children's Healthcare of Atlanta is able to offer lower-dose computed tomography scans to their pediatric patients, thanks to $7,800 awarded by Toshiba and the Association for Medical Imaging Management (AHRA).

The grant program, Putting Patients First, now in its third year, is a joint effort between Toshiba and AHRA to help facilities build or expand education and patient care initiatives.

"The Putting Patients First grants from the AHRA and Toshiba provide health care facilities with resources that otherwise might not be available," says Debra Lopez, AHRA president, in a statement. Applicants' programs should seek to improve issues including reducing radiation or contrast dose, reducing the need for sedation and improving patient comfort.

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CHOA was a 2009 winner of the grant, proposing in its application not only to reduce CT radiation dose in children but also to provide parents of patients the most up-to-date information on CT radiation.

"Basically, our grant centered [on] implementation of shields to protect sensitive parts of the body from radiation," says Melinda Dobbs, manager of radiology for CHOA - Egleston.

The children's hospital, to date, has purchased 10 bismuth shields, including five for the chest and five for the thyroid, which are especially sensitive to radiation, Dobbs says. Unlike lead shields, bismuth shields allow the scan to go through but at a lower dose. Lead shields block scans, says Dobbs.

In order to educate parents and families of pediatric patients, the hospital also used its grant money to train its staff on CT radiation dose.

"We wanted to make sure that when a [parent] asks about CT dose, that our physicians and frontline staff have the information," says Dobbs.

The third annual grant program was announced this week, offering six grants of up to $7,500 each. The money funds programs, training or seminars aimed at improving pediatric or adult patient care and safety of diagnostic imaging in the areas of CT, MR, ultrasound, X-ray and vascular imaging.

Three of these grants will be awarded for projects that improve the safety and comfort of pediatric imaging, and three grants will be awarded for projects that improve overall patient care and safety in imaging.

The goal of the program, says Cathy Wolfe, Toshiba's senior director, corporate and strategic communications, is to find a better link to the market, in this case imaging administrators. Toshiba is a big proponent of education, and grant winners will share their best practices with the industry.

"To us, this program is very important," says Dobbs. "It gives an avenue for frontline staff and hospital leadership to apply for funding for important projects that might not necessarily be funded by operational dollars."