KLAWOCK - The SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium Alicia Roberts Medical Center in Klawock will begin offering ultrasound imaging clinics for Prince of Wales Island patients. There will be an open house at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, July 1, with a brief presentation and ultrasound demonstration to introduce the service. Lunch will be served.
SEARHC recently purchased four state-of-the-art Philips iU22 ultrasound system machines, which will be placed at SEARHC facilities in Sitka, Juneau, Haines and Klawock. In the past, our Haines and POW patients had to travel to Sitka or Juneau for ultrasound services. Now ultrasound technologists from the SEARHC Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital in Sitka will travel to Klawock about twice a month to provide routine ultrasound appointments for those patients whose medical providers request one. This is a new service for Prince of Wales Island. POW patients no longer will have to spend a day or two away from home so they can have an ultrasound appointment that typically lasts less than an hour.
"The ultrasound program will give Alicia Roberts Medical Center and other POW providers important patient information. Examples include monitoring pregnancy health, the detection of some types of cancer and identification of patients at risk for stroke," said Dr. David Vastola, SEARHC Community Health Services medical director. "This is a significant improvement in the level of health care delivered on Prince of Wales."
Ultrasound imaging, or sonography, uses high-frequency sound waves to create moving pictures of the inside of the body, which are recorded by a computer. An ultrasound is a non-invasive procedure that allows doctors to look at soft-tissue parts of the body, such as the muscles, blood vessels and internal organs. During an ultrasound, a gel-like substance is spread on the part of the body to be viewed and the gel acts as a conductor. A transducer, which looks like a microphone, sends out high-frequency sound waves that bounce off the organs and echo back into the transducer. A computer converts the echos into images, which will be transmitted via SEARHC's teleradiology network to radiologists in Sitka who will interpret the results.
An ultrasound is used during pregnancy to check on health of the fetus; to examine internal organs such as the heart, pancreas and liver; to check blood flow and make sure there are no blockages; and to examine tumors and congenital malformations. It also is used to guide needle biopsies and breast biopsies. SEARHC ultrasound technicians with a specialty certification will be able to provide echocardiograms (heart ultrasounds), which are used to diagnose heart disease and to assess damage caused by a heart attack.
"Together with the clinic's exercise treadmill testing and internal medicine specialty services, the ultrasound program will be a part of a fairly comprehensive range of cardiac services at the Alicia Roberts Medical Center," Vastola said.