Dr. Sandra Vestvik speaks at the CT scanner room opening on July 12 in Smithers. Health Services Administrator Cormac Hikisch confirmed to The Interior News the machine recently performed its 1,000th scan around the middle of last week. (Trevor Hewitt photo)

Dr. Sandra Vestvik speaks at the CT scanner room opening on July 12 in Smithers. Health Services Administrator Cormac Hikisch confirmed to The Interior News the machine recently performed its 1,000th scan around the middle of last week. (Trevor Hewitt photo)

Smithers CT scanner hits 1,000 scans

“It really has been a game changer in so many ways,” says health services administrator

It’s only been running three months, but already the Bulkley Valley District Hospital’s (BVDH) new CT scanner is hitting milestones.

Health Services Administrator Cormac Hikisch confirmed the machine recently performed its 1,000th scan around the middle of last week.

“We just hit 1,000 scans in the last few days,” he told The Interior News Oct. 4.

That amounts to somewhere around 800 patients scanned, said Hikisch.

READ MORE: CT scanner officially opens in Smithers

He said the number of scans is already slightly ahead of schedule for the approximately 3,500 scans BVDH estimated it would perform annually.

“I’d guess if I was to do the math we may end up over 4,000 at the one year mark,” Hikisch said.

Prior to Smithers getting a CT scanner those needing the procedure — often times in emergency situations — had to travel to scanners in Prince George or Terrace.

Hikisch said the response has been nothing short of ecstatic.

“Whether it’s anecdotal stories about an emergency transfer that didn’t have to happen or a prompt decision for somebody who is worried about a healthcare decision or just not having to travel multiple hours to Terrace or Prince George.”

He added two of the most common comments he hears is people appreciate having to travel less and that it’s much easier on elderly people.

“It really has been a game changer in so many ways.”

Hikisch said the machine has been something the BVDH has thought about for quite some time but said there are a number of requirements involved with receiving the funding and providing logistical support for bringing a CT scanner somewhere like Smithers.

READ MORE: CT scanner arrives at hospital

He said having logistical support over the last five to six years from Northern Health for things like fundraising, planning, renovations and hiring staff really helped all the final pieces fall together.

Hikisch said another thing the hospital is looking at moving forward is recruiting a permanent radiologist for the BVDH.

The scanner was made possible largely through the donation of Telkwa business person Fritz Pfeiffer, who gave $1.6 million to the Bulkley Valley Health Care and Hospital Foundation in 2016 to help fund the machine.

The scanner saw its first patient July 9.

The CT room at BVDH was officially opened at a July 12 event which was attended Mayor Taylor Bachrach, a number of town councillors and Stikine MLA Doug Donaldson.