Skip to content

West Coast General Hospital getting new ‘cutting-edge’ CT scanner

Machine will offer new cardiac, neurologic scanning for Alberni Valley patients
The CT scanner at West Coast General Hospital, seen here in July 2019, is being replaced with a new, state-of-the-art model in 2024. The CT scan room is also undergoing renovation. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)

West Coast General Hospital in Port Alberni is getting a new, cutting-edge Computed Tomography (CT) scanner.

The new scanner—which replaces aging equipment currently in use—will provide patients in Port Alberni and surrounding areas with advanced medical diagnostics and “exceptional” care, according to Island Health.

“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 project will cost an estimated $2.27 million and is being paid for by the Ministry of Health ($1.26 million), Alberni-Clayoquot Regional Hospital District ($840,000) and Island Health ($170,000).

A CT scanner, commonly known as a “CAT Scan,” is a medical imaging device that uses X-rays and advanced computer processing to produce intricate cross-sectional images of the body’s internal structures. Last year 5,809 CT scans were conducted at WCGH, averaging about 447 scans per month.

Looking forward to 2023-24, an estimated 8,641 CT scans will be performed annually, with an average of approximately 665 scans each month.

“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. “It’s a significantly faster, more accurate scan which allows our technologists more time with patients,” said Carson.

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,” she said.

“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.”

Renovations are underway in the CT scanner room at the hospital. New lighting and flooring is being installed, the ceiling is being replaced and wall finishes are being updated. “Mood lighting and comfort enhancements will create a less anxiety-provoking experience for our patients,” Carson said.

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

The project is scheduled to be finished by Feb. 29.

About the Author: Alberni Valley News Staff

Read more