Time for a CT scanner

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The push is on for a CT scanner for Haliburton County.

County of Haliburton staff and councillors have been talking about it for a few months. And, on Monday, Haliburton Highlands Health Services (HHHS) waded into the conversation.

HHHS said it had planned to include the addition of a CT scan machine as part of its master planning process.

CAO Carolyn Plummer said HHHS knows the diagnostic tool would make a positive impact in the community, and is something Highlanders have wanted for some time.

HHHS said it’s taken steps to do a feasibility study, to determine if it’s possible to proceed now, rather than waiting for the master planning process to be completed.

We think the answer to that question is start now. Do the study to demonstrate whether a CT scan machine is feasible and put a full application in to the Ministry of Health.

The County’s director of emergency services, Tim Waite, and CAO Mike Rutter, would be more than happy to sit down with HHHS staff to work on a feasibility study and application.

For months, they have been telling council the same story. County ambulances are driving south daily to take patients for CT scans. While in other jurisdictions, such as the City of Kawartha Lakes and Peterborough, they are being called to 911 emergencies. In some cases, they are sitting outside Ross Memorial Hospital in Lindsay and Peterborough Regional Hospital waiting to discharge their patients due to long off-loading times.

Having a machine here would also mean people who have to take HHHS transportation or private vehicles for scans would not have to take half a day to do that – spending money out of County in the process.

It would hopefully mean quicker diagnoses, allow us to be a healthier community with screening and preventative medicine, and attract the health care workers we so desperately need.

County officials talked about how their recruitment efforts are being hampered by the lack of a CT scanner. New doctors, in particular, don’t want to come to areas where there isn’t one. The machine is akin to a blood test in today’s diagnostic world.

Plummer said it would be a long journey requiring strong community support.

We don’t doubt the community’s willingness to help out. After all, it raised the money to build two hospitals. It supports the HHHS Foundation.

We can’t express the same confidence in the ministry of health or Ontario government – which have landed Haliburton County and other rural and regional hospitals in the mess they are in.

For example, we find it unfathomable that the provincial government allows private agency nursing companies. Having them in our hospitals to cover for nursing shortages is costing HHHS an exorbitant amount of money every month. Further, it is creating tensions between HHHS nurses and agency nurses since the agency nurses are making at least double the money of permanent staff.

The provincial government should instead have a pool of its own nurses that it can make available to rural and regional hospitals – and urban ones if needed – when they go through staffing shortages to ensure wage equity.

But that is another battle for another day. For now, we encourage HHHS and the County of Haliburton to work together on finding out if we can get a CT scan machine, estimated to cost $2.5-3 million, figure out how to raise the money, and get going.