Lakeshore General Hospital adds new equipment

A new portable ultrasound was purchased as part of $90,000 fundraised by the Lakeshore Hospital Guild was unveiled in Ashern on March 20. Pictured: Front row (left to right): Guild members Julie Bergner and Shelley Bjornson, and Royal Canadian Legion No. 57 member Maria Ebbers. Back row (left to right): Legion member Donna Price, Dr. Christopher Okpaleke, Legion member Bill Ebbers, Dr. Ayman Soliman, acute care manager Charlene Thorkelson, Dr. Rezvaneh Azad-Armaki and Dr. Armin Sabri. Nathan Liewicki / Interlake Spectator

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ASHERN — Every little bit helps and together, all of the little bits fundraised by the Lakeshore Hospital Guild totalled $90,000 and the purchase of three new pieces of equipment.

A portable ultrasound and two power-lift stretchers were publicly unveiled by the Interlake-Eastern Regional Health Authority at the Ashern hospital on March 20, and Guild president Shelley Bjornson couldn’t be more thrilled with the efforts of her team.

“It was our 40th anniversary last year and we wanted a very worthwhile project to work on,” Bjornson told The Interlake Spectator.

The Guild started raising funds last April and received corporate and individual donations. The Guild also sold tickets, baking, silent auction items and even jelly at a Christmas craft sale on the way to reaching their goal of raising $90,000.

“We went with a capital campaign fundraiser and we started in April and we had a fabulous response,” Bjornson added. “With something this big, we didn’t know if we were going to make it within a year, but we put it out there and we had such wonderful support from the community.”

By December, the Guild had already reached its goal. At a meeting that same month, Ashern and Eriksdale acute clinical team manager Charlene Thorkelson joined Guild members and offered input on what equipment Lakeshore General could use.

A portable ultrasound, like the one the Gimli Community Health Centre – Johnson Memorial Hospital has, was among the purchases agreed upon.

The ultrasound is a point-of-care ultrasound, not to be confused with a diagnostic ultrasound, Thorkelson pointed out.

It has the flexibility to provide doctors with the ability to visualize blood vessels, muscles, tendons, nerves, internal organs and eyes so they can diagnose or rule out potentially serious medical issues in the emergency department. This will reduce the need for patients to be sent for tests in other hospitals.

“This will be used by the physicians after they’ve had the training and they use this in the emergency room,” Thorkelson said.

“As we get more of our doctors on board with the education, we will get it used more and more,” she continued. “The more you use it, the more you realize how helpful it is and what a great addition it is to our busy emergency room.”

Dr. Ayman Soliman, chief of the medical staff in Ashern and Eriksdale confirmed that there are short courses the physicians must take in order to use the portable ultrasound, with the primary focus being on how to use it and in which cases to use it.

Two of the four physicians have already pursued training on their own for the device.

“It is not a 100% diagnostic tool but a helpful tool to help the physician confirm and support his or her diagnosis,” Soliman said.

Nonetheless, it’ll provide a big boost in Ashern’s bustling emergency room.

“It will have great impact because it will be very helpful in diagnosis of emergency patients, especially trauma patients,” he added. “It will really be a helpful tool for the ER physicians.”

Bjornson is proud of her team’s fundraising efforts and is excited that the physicians are excited to use the new portable ultrasound.

“We are a very busy emergency room here in the northwest Interlake and if this is something that will help save one life we are very excited to be part of it.”

Members of the Ashern Hospital Guild, paramedics and supervisors stand beside two new power-lift stretchers. Nathan Liewicki / Interlake Spectator

Meanwhile, the stretcher provides a smoother transport for patients and allows paramedics to lift patients with the touch of a button. From letting the Guild know of the need for new stretchers to arranging the purchase of the equipment, local Ashern paramedic Dustin VanDamme was instrumental in arranging for the new stretchers.

“These power-lift stretchers, capable of hydraulically lifting patients of up to 700 pounds, drastically improve the chances of those paramedics being able to safely do their job and serve their patients,” VanDamme said. “We are endlessly grateful to the Lakeshore Guild and their supporters for getting us there.”

The Guild also recently facilitated the purchase of new sleeper chairs for the palliative care room at Lakeshore General and an ambulatory blood pressure machine for patients to take home to get a more accurate blood pressure reading.