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Philip Health Services receives CT scanner upgrade

The $400,000, 4,200 pound technical machinery was first rolled from a semi to a tilt-bed truck, then to eight big guys who rolled it into the hospital. Helping were Philip hospital head of maintenance Scott Baye and maintenance personnel Dan Walker and Lucas Schofield.

The General Electric 16-Slice Lightspeed Computerized Axial Tomography (CT) scanner was delivered to the Hans P. Peterson Memorial Hospital in Philip on Friday, March 28th.

The 14 boxes and crates included the donut-shaped main unit which weighs over 4,200 pounds, or as a delivery supervisor said, "more than your average SUV." The machine and installation comes at a total cost of a little more than $400,000.

The CT scanner will be in general operation by Friday April 4th. "It will be fully operational, with all the 'bells and whistles', a week after that, which is relatively normal," said Kent Olson, CEO of Philip Health Services.

Olson said, "The rapid advancement of technology is just incredible. Our old machine was not worn out, it was just a dinosaur." The old machine, which was removed on March 20th, was a single-slice scanner.

Philip x-ray technicians, Lori Seager and Kayla Eymer, have been in Milwaukee, WI, from March 31st to April 3rd for special training in regards to the new machine. The two will then pass on that training to co-workers, Shandon Fugate, Lacey Clements and Jamie Dolezal. All five will go through further on-site training in Philip from April 7th through the 10th. Olson said, "I think they will be surprised on how much commonality there is between the old machine and the new one. But, it is just different enough to require specific training."

Rapid City Regional Hospital used the purchasing power of the Philip hospital and of the Sturgis hospital, which also bought a GE 16-Slice Lightspeed CT scanner, to leverage a reduced purchasing price for each unit. A price that, according to Olson, is the best price that the Rapid City hospital has ever seen. The purchase still had to be approved by the Board of Directors of Philip Health Services, Inc., who planned and worked for two years from idea conception to actual delivery of the CT scanner.

"Most hospitals in rural South Dakota are in the process of upgrading CT scanners," said Olson. "This newer machine puts the Philip hospital on the same level as Rapid City Regional for what is commonly needed in the way of CT scanners."

The old machine required around five minutes to run a partial body scan. A full body scan required at least 10 minutes, which included cool-down time for the tube unit. The patient would actually be on the platform for far longer. The newer machine can do the same function, with far more accuracy and detail, in 30 seconds for a partial or only 90 seconds for a full body scan.

Philip physicians review the images from the CT scanner examination. Official interpretations come from the radiologists of the Dakota Radiology group in Rapid City.

The newer, more sophisticated machine generates less heat and does not require any cool-down time during a full body scan. Its operating parameters, though, are more exacting, thus the hospital has had to also upgrade the x-ray room itself. The consistency and controllability of the air conditioning has been fine tuned and the electrical power supply is now more regulated.

Philip hospital directors, administration and employees are planning an open house in the near future to display the CT scanner to the public.