The Elk Valley Hospital is adapting to meet the needs of patients in the Elk Valley.

New ultrasound service up and running at Elk Valley Hospital

Fundraising took less than two months to fund the new service

Ultrasound is now available at the Elk Valley Hospital in Fernie, less than six months after a fundraising campaign was launched to pay for the service.

Elk Valley locals will be able to stay in the valley for medical exams they’d otherwise need to travel to Cranbrook for.

Chair of the Medical Staff Association at Elk Valley Hospital, Dr Tara Chalmers-Nixon said the new service being open and available so soon was “amazing,” saying the process had only begun in August last year.

“By the end of September, with really generous donations by our community and our local businesses … we raised $300,000 in less than two months, and we have a service up and running by the second week of January.”

To provide the service, rooms for the service were designed, approved and renovated at the Elk Valley Hospital, and a new highly-trained sonographer was hired and is in ongoing applications training with a limited patient load as of Jan. 12.

The machine is now accredited, and the Elk Valley Hospital is accepting referrals.

“Physicians can now refer patients to have the majority of their ultrasound examinations done here in Fernie,” say Chalmers-Nixon.

“The same radiologist that would have read them in Cranbrook are gong to read these exams (done in Fernie).”

Exams that can be done using the new service in Fernie include chest, pelvic, shoulders, soft tissue, thyroid, abdomen and of course obstetrics – along with many more. Only cardiac (heart) ultrasound is not offered.

“Just look at the weather we’ve had today. We have people now that don’t have to travel on winter roads, and they can have these procedures here,” said Chalmers-Nixon.

The initial campaign lead by the East Kootenay Foundation for Health (EKFH) to raise funds for the service was launched on Aug. 12 last year, with a target of $300,000. Local businesses and community groups stepped up to write cheques, match donations and organize events to get the campaign over the finish line.

Executive director of the EKFH, Brenna Baker said the efforts to raise funds had been lightning-fast.

“It blew me away – everybody really came on board,” she said. “It was a whole community effort. (The EKFH) got it going, but it was the community that made it happen.”

“I was so proud to be part of that. I respect the Elk Valley so much and what they can do in such a short time.”

READ MORE: Ultrasound fundraiser crosses finish line
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