The Elk Valley Hospital's new ultrasonographer, Kyla Hampel (left) with site manager Sherry Sopko with the new ultrasound device that was purchased following fund-raising efforts in late 2020. (Photo contributed by Dr Tara Chalmers-Nixon)

Elk Valley Hospital’s new ultrasound service saves a cumulative 380,000km of travel in 10 months

With services now offered locally, patients don’t have to travel to Cranbrook

Since ultrasound services became available at the Elk Valley Hospital at the beginning of this year, the new service has become well-used.

“From January 5 until last week (early November), we’ve already done 1,902 ultrasounds in only 10 months,” said president of the Elk Valley Hospital Medical Staff Association, Dr. Tara Chalmers-Nixon.

Chalmers-Nixon, who was giving an update on MSA activities to the City of Fernie council on November 15, said that the impacts went beyond simply having a better-equipped hospital.

“We estimate this is a saving of over 380,000km of driving from our local community,” she said.

With ultrasound services available in the Elk Valley, patients no longer have to travel to Cranbrook.

Chalmers-Nixon said that with the new service, emissions were reduced from travel, patients were losing less valuable work hours to travelling, and the service being in the Elk Valley meant pressure was being reduced on the East Kootenay Regional Hospital in Cranbrook.

“We’ve exceeded out targets of what we had estimated we would be doing for ultrasound services at the Fernie hospital.”

Funding for the ultrasound service was achieved through a fundraising campaign in 2020, with $300,000 raised in less than two months between August and September last year. Purchase of equipment and upgrades to the hospital for the new service were completed by January 2021.

Chalmers-Nixon also provided updates on maternity care at the EVH, and the increase in scope of services through the EVH operating room which now offers orthopedic day surgeries.

Additionally, she said that it had been a busy year for recruitment. “We’ve been very fortunate to have four new physicians join our community,” she said. Two physicians have joined the Rocky Mountain Health Centre in Fernie, while another two have joined the Sparling East Medical Centre, also in Fernie.

Two vacancies remain in the valley, with the Elkford Health Centre seeking one full-time physician, and Fernie needing another family physician. The vacancies have left a gap in the market, with unattached patients – or patients without a general physician.

Chalmers-Nixon said that between 20 and 25 percent of all patients that present at the Emergency Room in the EVH do not have a physician.

Chalmers-Nixon’s full update can be read on the City of Fernie website, or watched as part of the November 15 Committee of the Whole recording on the city’s Facebook page.

READ MORE: New ultrasound service up and running at Elk Valley Hospital



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