Radiologic technologists Ed Havel, left, and Dustin Marra prepare Yampa Valley Medical Center Chief Executive Officer Karl Gills for a scan earlier this week. Gills was the first patient to use a new 256-slice CT Scanner, which helps physicians diagnose medical conditions or problems including cancers, cardiovascular disease, trauma and musculoskeletal disorders.

Photo by John F. Russell

Radiologic technologists Ed Havel, left, and Dustin Marra prepare Yampa Valley Medical Center Chief Executive Officer Karl Gills for a scan earlier this week. Gills was the first patient to use a new 256-slice CT Scanner, which helps physicians diagnose medical conditions or problems including cancers, cardiovascular disease, trauma and musculoskeletal disorders.

Steamboat hospital buys CT scanner

Yampa Valley Medical Center's new $1.7M machine boasts best technology available

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— Three years of fundraising efforts involving hundreds of people have paid off for Yampa Valley Medical Center patients.

On Tuesday, YVMC CEO Karl Gills volunteered his heart and body to show people the capabilities of the new $1.7 million CT scan machine. It took just seconds for the machine to take a picture of Gills’ heart and the vessels that feed it with oxygen-rich blood. Images were displayed like slices of a loaf of bread and would have shown potential blockages.

“There were no surprises,” said Gills, 57.

The new scanner means patients no longer will have to travel to the Front Range for similar scans.

“People like coming here because they feel like it’s home, and they want to have their treatments here,” said Sandy St. Clair, executive director of the Healthcare Foundation for the Yampa Valley.

The nonprofit hospital’s fundraising organization raised $850,000 to buy the scanner, which would otherwise not have been bought for another two years, Gills said.

“They identified this as a major addition to the servicing capacity of the hospital, and they wanted to help is get there,” he said.

YVMC radiologist Dr. Frederick Jones said there are several benefits to the new scanner.

“The scanner is extremely fast,” Jones said. “It allows you to stop motion.”

That enables images from a pumping heart, for example. It also will be useful in pediatrics because often young or sick patients have a difficult time staying still during the procedure.

“The biggest thing on a day-to-day basis is dose radiation,” Jones said.

The machine emits 30 to 50 percent less radiation other scanners, which potentially could be harmful.

YVMC cardiologist Dr. Will Baker said the new scanner would be a valuable tool as the hospital continues to expand its cardiac services.

“It has almost 100 percent accuracy for telling people you don’t have a heart problem,” said Baker, who predicted that the machine would be used for 15-20 heart scans each month.

The potential uses go beyond the heart.

Ed Havel, lead CT technologist, demonstrated the orthopedic use Friday by removing the kneecap and femur from an image. He then rotated the three-dimensional image to reveal a crack on top of the tibia.

“This is just a great example of the hospital’s commitment to the community,” Baker said.

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