Yampa Valley Medical Center Assistant Director of Radiology Julie Isaacs and her team plan to start using the hospital's new digital mammography machine in early November.  The $500,000 machine was purchased using money raised from the annual Penguin Plunge and other fundraisers.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Yampa Valley Medical Center Assistant Director of Radiology Julie Isaacs and her team plan to start using the hospital's new digital mammography machine in early November. The $500,000 machine was purchased using money raised from the annual Penguin Plunge and other fundraisers.

Open house celebrating new equipment at YVMC

Digital mammograms offered

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If you go

What: Digital mammography open house, hosted by the Yampa Valley Medical Center Auxiliary

When: 3 to 6 p.m. Thursday

Where: Yampa Valley Medical Center, 1024 Central Park Drive

Cost: Free

Call: 879-1322

For the past four years, Mary Jo Wiedel has been lobbying for adding digital mammography to Yampa Valley Medical Center's diagnostic imaging department.

The director of that department, Wiedel wanted to replace YVMC's 10-year-old film mammography system with easy-access digital imaging. About three months ago, the hospital met its fundraising goals and bought a GE Senographe Essential full field digital mammography machine - the equipment has a price tag of about $520,000.

Two weeks ago, that machine arrived at YVMC. On Thursday, the YVMC Auxiliary will host an open house celebrating the equipment and a newly remodeled diagnostic imaging space. The free event is from 3 to 6 p.m. at the hospital.

"What we're doing is we're capturing the images digitally, which makes for a shorter appointment time because we do not have to go develop the images; they're automatically there," Wiedel said about the new equipment. In turn, the radiologist can lighten, darken, zoom in on and crop the image to get a closer look and more information.

The department's recent changes also include a system to digitize old images that were saved on film, allowing radiologists to view old information simultaneously with the new scans and share that information with other specialists, she said.

"You always need to compare previous years so you can make sure there have been no changes," Wiedel said.

Fundraising for the machine started with a $100,000 lead gift from Gloria Gossard. The Healthcare Foundation for the Yampa Valley provided $300,000, and the Yampa Valley Breast Cancer Awareness Project contributed a $15,000 check during the 2008 Bust of Steamboat. This year's Bust of Steamboat is from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday at Three Peaks Grill. Proceeds from the 2009 Penguin Plunge and individual contributions helped cover the cost.

"I really feel that this has been a community effort," Wiedel said. "I think many people have been behind this. This is a really good thing that we've done together to bring this technology to the women in this community."

In its remodeled space, the mammography section of the diagnostic imaging department has a new bone density machine, two dressing rooms and a waiting area. Proceeds from the 2008 Rubber Ducky Race, hosted by the YVMC Auxiliary, helped with the remodeling project, said Christine McKelvie, director of public relations for YVMC.

As part of the redesign of the digital imaging area, the hospital has more room for new cardiology equipment that will allow for nuclear medicine cardiology, echocardiography, stress echocardiography and treadmill studies, according to a YVMC news release. That equipment is at the hospital and will be installed soon, Wiedel said.

The new mammography machine completes the digital imaging department's transition from film to digital equipment, according to the release.

"Because we've expanded our cardiology services significantly, we felt a need to bring them together in the same area and provide enough space for them," McKelvie said.

YVMC specialists went through training to use the digital mammography equipment during the past week, and the staff has conducted a few exams on local women, Wiedel said.

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