by John W. Mitchell
, Senior Correspondent | April 29, 2016
Ashley County Medical Center, a rural critical access hospital in Crossett, Arkansas, has become the first facility in the U.S. to begin using Carestream's DRX-Excel Plus Radiography/Fluoroscopy system.
Phillip Gilmore, the hospital's CEO, believes the system will not only meet their patient needs — but could even "check the boxes" for a much larger facility.
“The design and capabilities of the equipment provide the needed versatility for exams that would not commonly be available at other critical access hospitals,” Gilmore told HCB News. He said this included making quicker diagnostic decisions in the event a patient needs to be transferred to a higher-level hospital for life-saving specialty care.
Critical access hospitals provide essential medical services primarily in rural areas that are 35 miles away from another, usually larger hospital. Ashley County Medical Center is one of 1,332 critical access hospitals in the U.S.
According to Gilmore, the primary factors in their decision to go with the DRX-Excel Plus system were radiation dose considerations, patient comfort, physician confidence and system versatility. “We do not perform the volume (of tests) that the equipment is capable of,” he said. “But our decision was based on what is the right thing to do for our patient – also known as our family and friends.”
Gilmore cited several specific design advantages in their product review from among four imaging vendors in deciding upon the Carestream system. These included: the 19-inch table height; instant digital capability; hands free pedal system; ability to conduct complex cross-lateral exams; and “impressive” image quality achieved using low doses of radiation."
"The DRX-Excel Plus system is an important tool for evaluating patients who may be critically ill or seriously injured. Its ability to provide X-ray imaging studies and fluoroscopy exams allows our physicians to rapidly assess each patient’s condition and prepare them for transport to higher-level hospitals if needed," added Gilmore.
As of 2011, the American Hospital Association reported that
23 percent of Americans — 72 million people — lived in a rural area. Critical access hospitals face unique challenges. These include generating enough capital to stay current on major purchases, such as imaging equipment.
Rural hospitals typically serve older populations. They rely on a higher percentage of public programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, which typically do not reimburse as well as commercials insurers. As a result, critical access hospitals must deploy especially astute equipment purchasing skills.
Ashley County Medical Center treats 750 patients a month in its emergency department. It also provides such services as: obstetric; critical care; surgery; and various outpatient services in a 940 square mile service area.