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DCMC dedicated to providing quality, rural health care

The medical center introduces new Canon Aquilion Serve SP CT scanner

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June 3, 2024

DOOR COUNTY – No matter where you are, it’s important to have access to quality care close to home.

That’s why, Tonya Altmann, diagnostic imaging manager for Door County Medical Center (DCMC), said the medical center recently added the Canon Aquilion Serve SP CT scanner to its facilities. 

Altmann said the scanner, created by Canon Medical Systems and new on the market, does the same functions as a lot of CT scanners.

But, she said, it has enhanced features to it that benefit both the patient and the doctor.

Altmann said aspects of this particular scanner help patients who need a CT scan feel comfortable and not as cramped – and also assist providers in transporting the patient onto the table. 

The Canon Aquilion, she said, also has an overhead camera and touch screen that allows the technologist to stay at the patient’s bedside for a longer portion of the exam. 

“Instead of that long wait when you don’t know what’s going on and (the technologist) is back in another room doing computer work,” she said. “They’re able to do that at the bedside for more comfort for the patient.”  

For those who have never had to have a CT scan, Altmann said the machine can scan any part of the body.

“They can be looking at anything from your brain for a stroke… to your heart, if you’re having a heart attack, abdomen pain, all the way to your foot if you had a foot injury,” she said.

The new CT scanner, Altmann said, also comes with another technological enhancement – AI. 

“What (AI) does for our facility and using CT, is it utilizes computer programs to help ensure each patient’s dose for the radiation is being given accurately based on their body size and the need of the exam,” she said. 

Not only does the scanner enable consistent imaging based on a patient’s body size, Altmann said it helps reduce the radiation dose given to them, as well.

DCMC’s new CT scanner comes with an overhead camera and touch screen, which Tonya Altmann said allows the technologist to stay at the patient’s bedside for longer. Submitted Photo

“It uses tin filtration, (which) helps reduce the radiation rate for patients for certain exams, which is wonderful,” she said. 

Utilizing a lower radiation rate with the Canon Aquilion scanner, Altmann said does not affect the image quality – which remains at a high level.

“Canon has mastered getting the good quality images at the lowest patient dose rate, which is huge for us,” she said. 

And, Altmann said, quality images equal more timely results, which means patients can get back to their daily lives sooner. 

AI and health care

Altmann said she believes AI will continue to evolve in the healthcare industry, as it will in other career fields – which will help increase the consistency of care provided to patients.

“(AI helps us) as (we) double check to verify things – right part, right person, all of that stuff,” she said. “It’s helping us to ensure all of those check marks.”

Jenna Jennerjohn, director of quality at DCMC, said AI will continue to supplement what’s already being provided at the hospital.

“AI is never intended to replace the human component of health care because we know how important that is,” she said. “I think it’s important to note it is bringing together the compassionate care we already provide.”

Though Jennerjohn said computers can identify things the human eye and brain are unable to do, they can’t replicate human connection.

And, Altmann said there are still checks and balances when it comes to the use of AI.

“Even when we use AI, it’s still the technologist who has to approve it,” she said. “It doesn’t just do it for you – you have to check off and be in agreement for it.”

Right partnership, right time

DCMC, Altmann said, was in conversation with Canon Medical Systems as soon as the center started shopping for a new CT scanner, along with other vendors. 

But, in early November of last year, she said Canon reached out regarding new equipment they would be announcing at the end of the month, including the Aquilion Serve SP CT scanner, which she said they believed would be a great fit for the medical center.

“(They knew) we were on a time crunch to purchase,” she said. “Our partnership expands for years – we have a good relationship with them. They were excited to bring that to us as a possibility.”

High-quality, rural care

As a member of the healthcare field, Altmann said, “we want everyone at every hospital to have top-notch health care they can give the patients to ensure the best quality care.”

This is why, she said, DCMC is always striving to be the best it can be for its patients.

“Our patients are not just patients – they’re our family and friends,” she said. “They’re visitors, but we want them to feel like they’re our family and our friends when they’re here. So, offering them top-notch procedures and exams with skilled technologists is important to us because it could be our family on the table.”

DCMC, Jennerjohn said, is in a rural area that is geographically isolated on Wisconsin’s peninsula, so the team needs to be able to have the technology to identify life-threatening conditions without having to transfer people to Green Bay, or even further.

Especially, she said, because Door County has the second oldest, full-time resident population in the state – and the medical center has many patients coming in with stroke-like symptoms or other injuries.

“It’s important for us to identify those via CT,” she said. “CT is one of the main diagnostic tools currently used in medicine. If we weren’t able to have that available to us, patients would need to be transferred, and that would significantly increase the time to care and treatment we’re able to provide here for patients.”

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