Story by Blain Fairbairn | Photo by Tracy Mitchell
CLARESHOLM — New technology is improving care for area residents thanks to the hard work of the Claresholm & District Health Foundation (CDHF) and the support of the community as well as patients, physicians and staff at Claresholm General Hospital.
Since March 2018, the CDHF has raised more than $100,000 towards the purchase of advanced medical equipment including a protocol monitor, two stretchers with scales and a video laryngoscope.
The protocol monitor, installed in the emergency department’s trauma room this past summer, features a large monitor that displays a wealth of diagnostic and patient information. This allows physicians and staff to immediately review treatment protocols and share information among care teams and with their patients.
Dr. Roisin Dempsey says the monitor provides significant benefits for acute patients and those with complex medical needs.
“If we have a patient coming into emergency who’s had a cardiac event, we can pull up the protocols immediately,” she says. “The nurses have already prepared many of the steps in advance so when the patient arrives we’re providing care much more efficiently.
“When you’re not using certain protocols frequently, everyone needs to constantly refer back to them. With the monitors, we can better prepare by accessing the latest procedures immediately for the whole team to see together. And because protocols change, we know we’re using the most up-to-date version with the monitor because it provides real-time information.”
With the protocol monitor, physicians and staff can also review x-rays and other imaging with patients. This gives patients a greater sense of empowerment because they’re better informed about their condition and treatment plan.
Beyond streamlining treatment protocols and helping educate patients, staff have also found great success with the monitor in helping to make young patients feel more relaxed.
“When a child comes into emergency it can be a scary experience for them,” says Tracy Mitchell, Site Manager of Claresholm General Hospital. “The big screen monitor in the trauma room is a great distraction, allowing us to stream the child’s favourite cartoon during a procedure.
“This distraction helps ease their pain and builds positive experiences and memories for the child, which then reduces anxiety if they come to hospital in the future.”
The foundation also raised funds for a pair of new stretchers that come equipped with built-in scales — a feature that’s vitally important when it comes to transportation and medication doses.
“If a patient is very sick and can’t stand on a scale, these new stretchers give us a very accurate weight reading so they can be transported safely,” says Dr. Dempsey. “This is particularly important when a patient needs air ambulance transport. STARS won’t fly a patient if we don’t provide a really good idea of their weight; it’s not safe for the patient or crew.”
The scales also make it safe and easy for clinicians to determine how much medication to provide a very ill pediatric patient, as doses are typically weight-dependent.
The hospital is also using a new video laryngoscope funded through the foundation. This flexible camera allows clinicians to accurately and quickly intubate patients — placing a tube in their trachea to ensure an unobstructed flow of air to the lungs.
The portable unit is replacing the current laryngoscope, which is near the end of its lifespan.
Tara Bishoff, CDHF coordinator, says the foundation has enjoyed a long history of support from the community through a number of social events held throughout the year.
“We’re very grateful for the many people who’ve given their time and talent over the past 20 years,” says Bishoff. “The more than $750,000 we raised in that time through patient gifts, planned giving, fundraising, sponsors and more stays in the community — and has direct benefits for families who call this part of Alberta home.”
Please visit their website for information on how you can support the CDHF.