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Technological improvements to come to GRH

New equipment and upgrades were approved for purchase Monday evening during the regular Greater Regional Health Board of Trustees meeting.

Nuclear medicine

The first item approved was a nuclear medicine camera. GRH currently has one of these items, but the equipment is over 20 years old.

“It’s end of life,” said J.R. Rockhold, radiology director of GRH. “We aren’t going to be able to take care of it anymore.”

Rockhold proposed getting a new machine, with a cost of $299,000, and a budget of $320,000. Rockhold said there was only one bid for the camera due to COVID related concerns.

For the radiology department, Rockhold also requested a Biodex thyroid uptake probe for $14,175. This new medium-strength probe would be an improvement to the current low strength one.

“This detects if you have hypo- or hyperthyroidism, or if you have some kind of cancer or nodule in your throat,” said Rockhold. “That would expand some of our services.”

On average, the nuclear medicine department performs an average of 24 scans a month.

“We would like to get that number up a little bit, around thirty,” said CEO Monte Neitzel.


For the surgery department, Jackie Whitson, surgery services director, requested additional surgery power and new ablation equipment.

“We got quotes for two sets of large and two sets of small,” said Whitson. “That’s going to give us a little more inventory, and we are going to need that.”

The current power units have been in place longer than Whitson’s tenure, she said. Two other sets of power units had been purchased since then, but Whitson said the hospital will need more.

“It’s not going to allow us to do anything new, it’s just going to allow more smart guys to be working at the same time,” said Whitson.

The recommendation was to purchase equipment from GRH’s current provider, Stryker, with the equipment being new but with used, refurbished accessories.

Whitson also requested the purchase of ablation equipment, which offers a minimally invasive alternative to traditional surgical treatment of liver, prostate, kidney and lung cancers.

“This particular item was not a budgeted item,” said Whitson. “We intended to purchase this before now.”

It would take 16 cases to make a return on the investment, with Whitson saying the average is between two to four a month.

“Last month, we had 12,” said Whitson. “So it will certainly be easy for us to get back to ground zero on that, and then start making money doing procedures we hadn’t been able to do here prior to that.”

Both additions were unanimously approved by the board.


The anesthesia department made a single request for new ultrasound equipment in their service line.

“Ultrasound is very exciting technology for anesthesia,” said Brian Gutmann, CRNA, DNP. “It is a standard of care to allow us to place the central lines, as well as a lot of nerve blocks that we’ve been doing.”

These nerve blocks have been useful as a way of minimizing the usage of opiates after surgery.

“Our current ultrasound machine, we use the heck out of it, but it’s about seven years old, and they have about a six-year life span,” said Gutmann. “The image quality is making it much more difficult to do these nerve blocks.”

The emergency room would like to upgrade its ultrasound as well, as the two departments had previously received their equipment at the same time after working out a deal.

“They quoted me $43,000 if I was going to get one ultrasound machine, but if we go ahead and get two of them, we can get the pair for $78,500,” said Guttman.

The ER uses ultrasound for urgent central line placement and urgent evaluation, with use being increased significantly since 2013.

The obstetrics department had expressed interest in taking the old ultrasound equipment upon replacement.

“They like to do ultrasounds to make sure the baby is in the correct position when moms come to deliver,” said Guttman. “They’re thrilled to get that, otherwise they would have to budget to purchase one here soon.”

The board unanimously approved the purchase of the new ultrasound equipment for both departments.

Hyperbaric chamber

The final item discussed for purchase was a hyperbaric chamber, a new piece of equipment for wound care that had been discussed at a previous board meeting in June.

“The wound care service line has been a successful service line that has jumped off the page for Greater Regional,” said Carol Eckels.

Eckels said the service line is full of hard-working individuals and is continuing to grow, as they are looking to add another wound care nurse and a hyperbaric oxygen chamber.

The June meeting discussed the construction plans and usage of the chamber, but Monday’s meeting had actual discussion over a supplier.

“I believe Perry was the medical supplier we went with because there’s not a whole lot of manufacturers that make hyperbaric chambers, and the second supplier we looked at we had heard had a low-quality item,” said Eckels.

The board unanimously voted for the Perry brand chamber. Neitzel said he is pleased with the decision, and said he believes it opens up possibilities for future additions.

“In the space we are building, we do have the ability to expand and add another chamber,” said Neitzel. “We want to be conservative with our estimates, but we do have the ability to grow.”

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