Submitted photo Dr. Rob Coetzee (centre right) holds a portable ultrasound device that the West Chilcotin Health Care Society (WCHCS) recently purchased for the West Chilcotin Health Centre in Tatla Lake. Pictured are, from left to right, Peter Culbert, WCHCS director, Karen Paul, WCHCS vice president, Bob Simpson, CRD chair of health board, Leslie Milton, WCHCS treasurer, Rob Coetzee, WCHCS director and resident physician, Michal Smialowski. WCHCS president, and Berni Easson, Health Services Manager for Interior Health.

New portable ultrasound machine for West Chilcotin Health Centre

Portable ultrasound useful aid in diagnosing issues across Chilcotin

A new portable ultrasound machine is being put to good use at the West Chilcotin Health Centre.

The West Chilcotin Health Care Society recently purchased the new machine to help sort out the cause of numerous medical emergencies in order to decide appropriate patient care.

“Most notably, it can be used to diagnose internal bleeding from a ruptured liver or spleen due to trauma,” said Michal Smialowski, the president of the health care society.

“This is notoriously hard to discern without the aid of ultrasound.”

The machine will also be useful for certain pregnancy-related conditions, like a ruptured ectopic pregnancy, said Smialowski.

Rob Coetzee is the doctor currently at the West Chilcotin Health Centre. He credits Smialowski as the driving force behind obtaining not only the ultrasound but other needed emergency equipment for the Highway 20 corridor.

“As you can imagine, we’re quite isolated, with extended ambulance transfer times to either Williams Lake or Bella Coola to reach their respective hospitals,” he said.

“The aim of bringing equipment like the ultrasound to the patient, as opposed to bringing the patient to the eqipment, is to expedite emergency diagnoses and sometimes treatment before a lengthy transfer to either hopital.”

Coetzee said true emergencies are quite ncommon on the road, but he’s used the ultrasound most often in his usual days at the differetn clinics in the Chilcotin.

While not a substitute for a formal ultrasound scan at a radiology department, the “ready availablility” of the portable machine is very useful as a diagnostic aid.

The machine costs $22,000 in total, with 40 per cent of the cost born by the Cariboo Regional District. Interior Health will cover the maintenance costs.

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