Mission accomplished: Care at Goderich hospital takes leap forward

    GODERICH, ON, Sept. 14 /CNW/ - After years of innovative effort, a
project that seemed like an impossible mission five years ago reached its
culmination at Alexandra Marine and General Hospital (AMGH) in Goderich today
as they celebrated their connection to one of the world's largest, most
sophisticated medical digital imaging networks.
    The project was conceived to ensure every hospital in Southwestern
Ontario - from the very large to the very small - has access to the finest
medical imaging equipment and radiologist and nuclear medicine coverage. AMGH
joins 13 other hospital organizations in Southwestern Ontario - a total of
18 separate hospital sites - linked to this network, that enables the sharing
of diagnostic images between primary, secondary and tertiary care hospitals.
    "This project is about leveraging technology to provide the best possible
patient care right here in our home community," said Bill Thibert, AMGH
President/CEO. "The success of the project is largely due to the spirit of
cooperation between all the hospitals engaged in this initiative."
    Funding for this project is from AMGH and its community, in partnership
with Canada Health Infoway. "Today's celebration is about providing clinicians
with an innovative Diagnostic Imaging system that provides the tools and
information they need to provide the care their patients deserve," said
Stella Skerlec, Group Program Director, Registries, Infostructure and
Diagnostic Imaging, Canada Health Infoway.
    "The PACS system is state of the art technology for our community," said
Dr. Julie Moore, AMGH Chief of Staff. "It produces digital images that are far
superior to traditional film technology, and can be shared with consultants
and specialists immediately. This allows us to provide efficient, seamless and
timely service to our patients."
    Digital images are filmless - much like a digital camera. Digital imaging
systems enable healthcare providers to view, manage, distribute and
electronically store a patient's exam images from x-ray, CT, ultrasound,
nuclear medicine, MRIs, and PET scans as well as medical files from any
location connected through the system - regardless of where the test was
conducted. The PACS (picture archiving and communication system) captures,
stores and sends images using digital technology.
    This project is serving as a model for other health information network
projects across Canada. Planning is underway to continue expanding this
network to other Southwestern Ontario hospitals.

    About Canada Health Infoway

    Infoway is a federally-funded, independent, not-for-profit organization
that is leading the development and implementation of electronic health
projects across Canada. Infoway works with provinces and territories to invest
in electronic health projects, which support safer, more efficient healthcare
delivery. Fully respecting patient confidentiality, these private and secure
systems provide health care professionals with immediate access to complete
and accurate patient information, enabling better decisions about diagnosis
and treatment. The result is a sustainable health care system offering
improved quality, accessibility, productivity and cost savings.

    About the Southwestern Ontario Digital Imaging Network
    See following backgrounder.

    Southwestern Ontario
    Digital Imaging Network
    ... the next phase

    The Southwestern Ontario Digital Imaging Network project is helping to
fulfill the vision of enhancing patient care by creating a shared digital
imaging network that allows hospitals of different sizes to share the same
digital diagnostic imaging system.
    Phase 2.1 of the project involves Alexandra Marine and General Hospital,
Huron Perth Healthcare Alliance, and South Huron Hospital Association. These
hospitals are working collaboratively to implement PACS (picture archiving and
communication system), which digitally captures medical images and allows
these images, such as x-rays, to be viewed online. They are also implementing
a shared network, so that patients' medical images can be accessed from any
one of the networked hospitals (see sidebar) leading to a seamless record of
patients' medical imaging history.
    Planning is underway to expand this shared imaging network to other
Southwestern Ontario hospitals, and eventually throughout Canada so that all
hospitals will be able to access one another's diagnostic images.
    The digital imaging network incorporates the technology and monitoring to
ensure the security and privacy of patient information, and is compliant with
federal and provincial privacy legislation.

                             Benefits to patients

    - Enables patient to have an image taken in their home town; local
    physicians can then consult on the case with specialists from any
    hospital on the networked system;
    - Allows radiologists to make more precise diagnoses using the online
    - Decreases radiation exposure through fewer duplicate procedures because
    previous images are always available electronically - no more lost or
    misplaced films.

                           Benefits to care givers

    - Accelerates the flow of patient information among multiple facilities;
    - Eliminates the use of film, thereby streamlining diagnostic imaging
    - Mitigates radiologist shortages by extending radiology coverage.


    Canada Health Infoway, in partnership with the Huron Perth hospitals and
their communities, is contributing funding for the Huron Perth Region phase of
the project.

                   For more information: www.c3project.ca
                       Or call 519-685-4292, ext. 42470

        Southwestern Ontario hospitals in the digital imaging network

                                  Phase 2.1

    Alexandra Marine & General Hospital

    Huron Perth Healthcare Alliance:

    - Clinton Public Hospital;
    - St Marys Memorial Hospital
    - Seaforth Community Hospital;
    - Stratford General Hospital.

    South Huron Hospital Association (Exeter)

                                   Phase 2
                           Thames Valley hospitals

    Alexandra Hospital

    London Health Sciences Centre

    Middlesex Hospital Alliance

    - Four Counties Health Services (Newbury);
    - Strathroy Middlesex General Hospital.

    St. Joseph's Health Care

    St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital

    Tillsonburg District Memorial Hospital

    Woodstock General Hospital

For further information:

For further information: Bill Thibert, Alexandra Marine and General
Hospital, (519) 524-8689, ext. 232; Anne Kay, St. Joseph's Health Care London,
(519) 685-4292, ext. 42470, Page: (519) 649-9238; Dan Strasbourg, Canada
Health Infoway, (416) 595-3424, dstrasbourg@infoway-inforoute.ca

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