Pincher Creek’s hospital has a CT scanner after a long advocacy campaign by local physicians, according to Dr. Gavin Parker, who manages the hospital and attached medical clinic. 

“We’re either the first or the second rural community in [Alberta Health Services’] South Zone to land this kind of technology, depending on how you define ‘rural,’ ” Parker said, noting that Brooks (a city of just under 15,000 people as of the 2021 census) also has a scanner at its hospital.  

Pincher Creek’s scanner came online at the town’s health centre on April 10, according to Scott Johnston, press secretary at Alberta’s Health Ministry. 

For the most part, scans will be performed on a scheduled basis during regular business hours throughout the week until more staff are trained up, at which point scans will be more readily available, Parker said 

CT scanners are highly valued for their diagnostic precision. 

The machines use sophisticated imaging technology (CT stands for computed tomography) to generate 3D snapshots of scanned body parts, giving trained medical professionals an up-close and personal view of what’s happening inside a patient.

CT scanners are particularly adept at imaging soft tissue, but they work very well with skull fractures and neck injuries, which Parker said aren’t always spotted through conventional X-rays. 

“Plain film X-rays don’t have the power to really image the skull adequately — and certainly not the brain itself,” Parker explained.

Pincher Creek’s scanner comes on the heels of the UCP government’s $45-million CT and MRI Action Plan.

Parker said the health centre entered into serious talks about the scanner in early 2021 with then health minister Tyler Shandro. 

“We brought it to the ministry and he saw the sense in what we were saying.” 

But it would take more than the province’s say-so to get the scanner up and running. CT scanners use precision radiation, and Parker said it took the better part of a year to retrofit the health centre’s new CT room with lead-lined walls and other necessary improvements. 

Pincher Creek Health Centre serves about 10,000 people in and around Pincher Creek. 

Dr. Parker has been at the centre since 2007.

By Laurie Tritschler, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Apr 26, 2023

This item reprinted with permission from   Shootin' the Breeze   Pincher Creek, Alberta

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