Changes on the local level

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Have you noticed the articles the past few weeks about new services available at the Fulton County Hospital (FCH)? I'm amazed, as well as proud, that our small local hospital is working so hard to update their technology. It's a good feeling having these state-of-the art services available at home instead of having to drive to a larger town.

With the installation of the PACS system (Picture Archiving Communication System) FCH now stores medical imaging in a digital format allowing the image to be read by a radiologist within minutes of it being taken. X-rays, ultrasounds, CT scans or MRIs are now available to doctors almost immediately and can also be shared with another doctor elsewhere. This information is critical, especially when a patient is being transferred to another facility.

A colonoscopy or an endoscopy may not be tests we look forward to, but they are a fact of life as we age. FCH now has these services available with a state-of-the-art Olympus scope. Those who have had these procedures say that the preparation for the tests are worse than the actual procedures -- especially the fasting! That alone is a good reason to have them done closer to home -- I must have my coffee!

Dr. Jeff Summerhill is the doctor who normally performs these procedures and he pointed out that having them done at FCH is also faster because of patient numbers. After having sat in a doctor's office for two-hours recently waiting for my appointment, this sounds great to me.

Recently, we had an article about the new Dashboard system that links 83 participating acute care hospitals in the state. FCH is among this number. It helps guide emergency personnel to a compatible hospital that suits the needs of a severely injured person. This database is the first component of a potential trauma system for the state. It's a great first-step for the state and FCH is on-board from the first.

The changes happening at FCH just keep getting better. We all need to be aware of what the hospital offers and the care and services we can expect at our community hospital. Community support is always needed -- now and in the future -- to assure that the hospital's doors stay open.

The hospital is also looking to increase the number of volunteers helping out each day. For someone in retirement, this is a great opportunity to stay active, feel useful, meet new people and comfort the sick and their families.

A long time ago, too many years to admit, I volunteered at what was then West Plains Memorial Hospital. I was in high school and belonged to the Future Nurses of America club. Part of our service was donating time at the local hospital. I remember changing bed sheets, filling water pitchers and getting patients lots and lots of ice. I really enjoyed it -- especially delivering flowers to the patients' rooms. Watching the nurses work and getting to tag along with them at times, made me feel "important." I also got to wear a white dress with a pink and white apron over it and a white nurses cap (Yes, it was a FEW years ago!) and we earned stripes on the hat for the number of hours we volunteered.

If you are thinking about a career in the healthcare field, volunteering is a great way to see if this field is right for you but you don't have to be retired or looking for a career to be a hospital volunteer -- I was about 15 at the time I volunteered. With a parent's consent, 14-year-olds can be a volunteer. This is a great way to build self-esteem, learn responsibility and the importance of completing obligations. In a few years, when this young volunteer heads off to college or to work, lessons from these volunteer days will help them to succeed in ways they won't realize now.

Contact Pam Johnson at 895-2691 for more information on being a volunteer.