West Coast General Hospital to introduce cutting-edge CT scanner

West Coast General Hospital (WCGH) is taking a significant step towards advancing patient care by introducing a new, state-of-the-art Computed Tomography (CT) scanner in early 2024 that will provide advanced medical diagnostics and exceptional care for people living in Port Alberni and surrounding communities.

“People in Port Alberni and surrounding areas will soon have access to a new CT scanner, increasing access to innovative health care and improved technology for many close to home,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “By working with the Alberni Clayoquot Regional Hospital District and the Island Health Authority, we are demonstrating our commitment to working together to strengthen our health care system.”

The rollout of the CT scanner at WCGH marks a significant investment in health-care innovation. The new equipment will replace the aging equipment currently in use, ensuring upgraded technology for improved diagnostic accuracy and patient outcomes.

“This initiative reflects our unwavering dedication to elevating patient care and health services at West Coast General Hospital,” said Leah Hollins, Island Health Board Chair. “We are fully committed to delivering innovative health-care solutions that will directly benefit the well being of patients.”
“Having access to a new CT scanner is welcome news for the people living in the Alberni Valley and on the West Coast,” said Josie Osborne, MLA for Mid Island-Pacific Rim. “This is technology that can help health care providers diagnose and plan treatments for patients, and knowing it’s accessible close to home will provide peace of mind for residents and strengthen health care services for the entire region.”

“The new CT scanner uses cutting-edge technology that will allow us to do state-of-the-art scanning for cardiac and neurology applications - things that we currently don’t offer at WCGH,” said Dr. Brent Carson, Island Health radiologist and medical lead for medical imaging at WCGH.

Alexandra Melanson, medical imaging lead at WCGH and Tofino General Hospital, echoed Carson’s thoughts. “Previously, patients endured long waits and travel for these scans. Now, we're pleased to provide this specialized service in the West Coast community, minimizing travel and wait times."

Melanson is also enthusiastic about the benefits the new scanner will have, particularly for cardiac computed tomography angiography. “With this method, we can see the heart's blood vessels in real-time by injecting contrast into your arm and performing a specially timed CT scan. This approach, unlike traditional angiograms that involve lying on a table and inserting equipment into a patients’ vessels, is less intrusive for patients and serves as a valuable addition to a physician’s toolkit for identification and treatment decisions.”

The $2.27 million project is being cost shared between the Ministry of Health ($1.26 million), the Alberni Clayoquot Regional Hospital District ($840,000) and Island Health ($170,000).

“It is essential that people who live in the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District have access to the best health care possible without having to leave the region,” said Deb Haggard, chair of the ACRHD. “CT scans can save lives, and we are so excited to support the addition of a new state-of-the-art CT Scanner at West Coast General Hospital.”

Renovations are also underway in the CT scanner room, including new lighting, flooring and ceiling replacement and updates to wall finishes. Carson said these renovations will further improve patient experience. "Mood lighting and comfort enhancements will create a less anxiety-provoking experience for our patients," he said.

A temporary mobile CT scanner trailer will be on-site throughout construction to maintain uninterrupted patient care.

A Computed Tomography (CT) scanner, also commonly known as a CAT scan, is a medical imaging device that utilizes X-rays and advanced computer processing to produce intricate cross-sectional images of the body's internal structures.

In the fiscal year 2022/23, a total of 5,809 CT scans were conducted at WCGH, averaging approximately 447 scans per month. Looking forward to the projected estimates for the year 2023/24, it's anticipated that around 8,641 CT scans will be performed annually, with an average of approximately 665 scans each month.

“It's a significantly faster, more accurate scan which allows our technologists more time with patients,” said Carson. "The local medical community is ecstatic that these advancements are on the horizon for our community."

The project is on track to meet its scheduled completion date of February 29, 2024.