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New equipment which has just gone into service at Wellington Hospital will greatly improve the ability of its Cardiologists to diagnose heart problems and chest pains.
Four new Echo machines (cardiac ultrasound machines) have just gone into service - including a portable machine which will for the first time allow a regular weekly clinic for Echo scans to happen at Kenepuru Hospital in Porirua. The machines produce digital video in real time which allows the diagnosis of problems such as chest pains, heart failure, arrhythmia, valve problems, and infectious diseases of the heart.
“The machines we’ve used before now are large and immobile, so patients have had to come to the machine,” says Mark Simmonds, the DHB’s lead Cardiologist.
“Of the brand new machines, two are fairly large so they’ll live in the department - these two are absolute top-of-the-line equipment with great new functions for assessing heart failure and the detection of coronary disease. Another new Echo machine is mobile so we can take that around Wellington Hospital to places like ICU, the Emergency Department or the Children’s Hospital. And the fourth new Echo machine is only slightly bigger than a laptop computer so it is portable and can be transported to Kenepuru hospital.”
That portable machine will enable Cardiology technologists this week, for the first time, to begin running a regular weekly Echo clinic at Kenepuru Hospital in Porirua – taking images there instead of having to bring those patients to Wellington.
Patients from the northern part of the DHB region requiring the most detailed Echo scans, and children requiring scans, will still access the Echo service at Wellington.
While the three larger machines were funded through the normal DHB capital expenditure process, most of the funding for the portable Echo machine came from the Wellington Hospitals & Health Foundation. The Foundation is an independent community-based charitable trust which raises funds for projects to improve the comfort and welfare of patients and their families at Wellington and Kenepuru Hospitals, and in the Kapiti Health Centre.
“We’re extremely grateful for the Foundation’s support – which will bring real tangible benefits for patients in the northern half of this district,” Mark Simmonds said. “The Foundation truly is making a difference for cardiology patients.”
Dr Alexander Sasse, a Cardiologist based at Wellington Hospital, says the four new Echo machines offer significant increased functionality. “For example the new mobile Echo machine has attachments specially designed for taking images of children and babies – which are much more flexible and precise than our old equipment.
“The echo machines are also networked across the region, so you can go to one of the two new review stations (one at Wellington, one at Kenepuru) and call up any file taken on any of these machines practically instantly.
“So if someone is shooting an Echo video at Kenepuru and they want a second opinion they can pick up the phone and someone in Wellington can watch it straight away,” Dr Sasse says.
But the last word of praise for the new equipment goes to the team leader of Cardiology technologists, Angela Morgan.
“The images we’ve been getting with these new machines are the best I’ve seen in 20 years of taking Echocardiograms. I used the mobile Echo machine in the children’s hospital the other day and I was blown away by the detail and quality.
“That’s great news all round, it really helps our ability to diagnose heart problems,” Angela Morgan said.