New outpatient centers go all digital

By Joel Hall


Last week, Southern Regional Medical Center opened its first, entirely digital, outpatient imaging center and woman's diagnostic center.

The new Advanced Imaging Center and Women's Center are both at Spivey Station, located off Stockbridge Road in Jonesboro, and offer women and the general public a chance to receive vital diagnostic screenings in less time than it would take at the hospital.

The Advanced Imaging Center offers CT scans, ultrasound, digital radiology, X-rays, and the Women's Center provides mammography, biopsy, and other tests specific to locating and treating breast cancer.

Debbie Roddenberry, director of outpatient imaging services for SRMC, said the center's Jonesboro location broadens SRMC's reach in the community.

"I think one of the advantages of having this outpatient center here is that it puts us out in the community more," said Roddenberry. She said the fact the center is located outside of the hospital creates an intimate, less-intimidating environment for patients.

"If they go to a hospital, they may have to see people on stretchers," said Roddenberry. "This makes them a little more conformable."

To Roddenberry, however, the most unique feature of the centers is that they are both "film-less." Both the Advanced Imaging Center and Women's Center use all-digital imagining, streamlining services, cutting down on costs, and providing doctors and patients with clearer images in a fraction of the time.

"You don't have film, you don't have chemicals, you don't have storage," said Roddenberry. "Everything is stored in a computerized system that is centralized. You still get your picture, but it's clearer, quicker and more sophisticated."

Erin King, a radiological technologist at the Advanced Imaging Center, said cutting-edge digital imaging machines, such as the DR 5500 Swiss Ray, provide radiologists with detailed, almost-instant, X-ray images. The absence of film, coupled with the ability to adjust the images from a screen, puts less stress on the patient, she added.

"Before, if we processed it the old way, it would take minutes," for X-ray film to develop, said King. "You can see it in a second," with the new digital machines. "When you are doing multiple body parts, it takes an enormous amount of time off."

In addition to cutting down dramatically on the amount of time a person is exposed to X-ray radiation, the patient can also leave with a copy of the X-ray images on a CD-ROM.

"It's cost effective, it's less repeat of exposure to the patient. For a patient, that's less radiation," said King.

Recently, SRMC broke ground on its Ambulatory Surgical Center, which will be attached to the centers at Spivey Station. Roddenberry said in April 2009, the surgical center will offer people with broken bones, or breast tumors, same-day surgery.

For more information, go to www.southernregional.org.