North Big Horn Hospital granted new ultrasound machines

Patti Carpenter

As part of a statewide ultrasound initiative, North Big Horn Hospital was granted $153,800 by the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust to purchase two state-of-the-art ultrasound machines. The imaging devices will be used primarily in the hospital’s emergency room but are portable and can be used when needed in other service areas within the facility.
According to emergency room provider Jack Carpenter, PA-C, the imaging quality of the new machines is far better than the machines that were being used in the ER and come with probes that are especially useful in evaluating cardiac functions. They also have built in training modules and have “very intuitive” features, making them fairly easy to learn.
The older machines still function well and are finding use in other areas of the facility.
“Ultrasound is basically the new stethoscope,” explained Carpenter. “I literally use ultrasound in the emergency room every day because of the information it can give us.”
Carpenter said the machines help determine the avenue of treatment, giving information within moments that is sometimes more accurate than information obtained by other methods. He added that the time-saving, life-saving information removes guess work in many situations.
“For example, when someone arrives in trauma, we can do a quick body scan in certain spots that are most likely to accumulate blood and determine in about two minutes whether they have internal bleeding or not and whether we need to get them transferred to a surgeon as fast as possible,” he said.
He noted that the use of this advanced technology saves the patient a trip to another part of the hospital for a CT scan, which is a big time saver in an emergency situation where time is of tremendous importance.
“It gives us more accurate information,” he said. “I think it allows us to have quicker and more accurate diagnosis.”
Carpenter said the imaging quality of ultrasound equipment gets more advanced every year, similar to upgrading a camera from an older model. He said he is grateful for grants, like the one recently received, that allow a smaller hospital like North Big Horn stay up to date with the latest technology.
“In our small facility, we see everything here that much larger hospitals see but not as often,” he explained. “We see gunshots, we see stabbings and car accidents and traumas and people who are critically ill. So, we have to have the same skills and the same equipment as those larger facilities.”
The initiative funded by the Helmsley Trust includes nearly $13.9 million to help Wyoming health facilities across the state purchase ultrasound imaging devices and boost sonography and point-of-care ultrasound training opportunities. Helmsley trustee Walter Panzirer said the grants will help improve access to quality medical treatment for all Wyoming residents, whether they live in the heart of Cheyenne or Casper or in a smaller rural community like Lovell or its neighboring communities.
“Our hospitals and health centers need to stay current with rapidly advancing technology so they can continue to provide top-notch healthcare close to home,” Panzirer said. “These grants ensure that facilities across Wyoming have the latest and greatest ultrasound equipment and training.”