Minister: Health care cannot advance without technology
Tufton commends UWHI for acquiring cutting-edge CT scanner
Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Christopher Tufton (left) cuts the ribbon for the new CT scan suite on Tuesday at the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI). (Photos: Karl Mclarty)

Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Christopher Tufton has commended administrators of the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) for continuing to embrace the use of cutting-edge technology in their delivery of health care to Jamaicans.

Tufton was keynote speaker at Tuesday's unveiling of a newly acquired 128-Slice CT scan suite that is based at the Department of Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology at the UHWI.

The suite, inclusive of the machine, cost UHWI $184 million. The unit will supplement the X-ray capabilities of the Department of Radiology.

"You cannot advance without the technology that is to be supporting that platform for improved patient care. Transaction time and cost and the efficiency of that delivery is critical. The University Hospital of the West Indies has come to terms with the efforts in the use of the digitisation infrastructure that has been in place for some time. It started before my time and continued during my time. Recently we have seen additional progress," Tufton said.

The $184-million CT scanner acquired by the University Hospital of the West Indies.

"I was at this location recently, unveiling another piece of modern equipment. I think it is important that the University Hospital of the West Indies, the premier tertiary level, regional institution for public health and training public health technocrats, remains on the cutting edge of technology and [must] continue to forge ahead, based on future trends and developments. You must keep ahead of the curve. Otherwise, you will lose your competitive edge and people will look elsewhere for support and the confidence becomes diminished. That is not going to happen on my watch," Tufton vowed.

With the 128-Slice CT scanner, the hospital will be able to deliver faster, safer and more accurate diagnosis. The machine can provide three-dimensional images for any patient regardless of age or size and even people with cardiac or respiratory conditions that usually make producing high-quality images with other scanners difficult.

While a patient is being scanned, the machine provides diagnostic information that enables doctors to isolate and distinguish tissues, making the process of determining diseases easier. The images that come up on the screens are also able to show blood flow overtime for whole organs.

Also, doctors will be able to generate whole-organ imaging that show the circulation of blood in the entire brain of a patient who has suffered a stroke.

Minister of Education and Youth Fayval Williams told the attendees that the acquisition of the equipment provides an opportunity to offer medical students "comprehensive on-site training in radiology from postgraduate medical doctors, medical students, radiographers and other groups of health-care professionals, ensuring that they possess the necessary skills and knowledge to provide quality patient care".

Acting chief executive officer of UHWI Fitzgerald Mitchell said he was extremely proud to have acquired the equipment. He said that previously, the department only had one CT scanner which led to crowding.

"When we get to the CT scan area, we see crowd on every side. Everybody is waiting to get a CT scan done. Today, I am extremely proud that we have another CT scanner here. We have probably the Rolls-Royce of CT scanners in Jamaica. It is one of the best and will do a number of fantastic things that our clinicians are just beaming about.

"You are here at the start of something new, fresh and different in the University Hospital. You are going to see greater things. We are happy that the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Education, The University of the West Indies and the University Hospital came together in collaboration with our partners to ensure that we remain on the cutting edge of technology and patient care," said Mitchell.

– Additional reporting by Jerome Williams

BY JASON CROSS Observer staff reporter

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