Bonner General Health welcomes new expanded Imaging Center By Abigail Thorpe | Photo by Kristin Carlson
On August 1, Bonner General welcomed the first patients to its new Imaging Center located in the Health Services Building. As the population in Sandpoint continues to increase and diagnostic imaging has developed and improved over the years, the need for a new Imaging Center to serve patients’ needs from start to finish became a focus for Bonner General.
The new full-service Imaging Department now offers the latest technology in diagnostic imaging, including computerized tomography, 3-D mammography, DEXA, ultrasound, fluoroscopy, MRI, interventional procedures, and eventually Echo diagnostics.
“Our hope is for the new Imaging Center to provide a welcoming, personal patient experience that furthers our mission to ‘improve health, inspire hope and save lives,’” says Lead Radiologic Technologist Katie Cary, BS BR (R)(M), who has been a radiologic technologist and mammographer for eight years.
The vision of the new Imaging Center is to provide convenient access, exceptional care and prompt testing and results for an ever-growing community.
Located in Suite 277 on the second floor of the Health Services Building, the center offers a wide range of services utilizing advanced technology. “This area has greater capacity to see patients, and room to grow and add additional mammography and ultrasound machines as needs continue to grow,” explains Daniel Holland, BS RT (R) (CT) (BD) (QM), director of diagnostic imaging, who has worked 10 years as a technologist. “Looking toward the future and anticipating the needs of our growing community highlight the focus and intent of our new Imaging Center.”
The Imaging Center was not an overnight project, however; it was a carefully considered multifaceted plan with many moving parts that was made possible through the efforts and assistance of multiple partners.
The Sunderland Foundation, a foundation based in Kansas City and started in 1945 that supports capital building projects and helps fund opportunities that grow just, equitable communities, was an early partner with Bonner General. They were instrumental in helping fun the Emergency Room remodel several years ago and also assisted with construction costs within the hospital to advance the new Imaging Center project. Together with the Foundation Board and generous community giving through the 2022 Heart Ball, the Sunderland Foundation helped fund the capital project through the Radiology Department. “All of these generous community partners have allowed BGH to think toward the future. If it was not for the Sunderland Foundation and the 2022 Heart Ball, these changes would not have happened with the speed and efficiency that they have,” credits Holland.
The growing population of Sandpoint, in addition to the steady growth of diagnostic imaging, highlighted a growing need at the hospital: infrastructure changes that would solve two problems. Firstly, creating additional usable space within the hospital to expand CT and support for the emergency room and BGH’s regional response to stroke and trauma patients and, secondly, providing a new and efficient space for mammography and ultrasound that would allow for additional growth in the future.
“Our vision for this space is to increase access through appointment availability in multiple modalities to allow our services to keep up with our growing community,” explains Holland. “Being able to provide the same level of care and patient experience during a time when our population is growing is an important element of servicing our community.”
So why now? The vision of the new center was some time in the making, but the necessity of one was spurred by a growing population in the community that required faster appointment availability in order to deal with an increasing number of urgent and emergent concerns. “How and when we delivered care in the past does not necessarily match how and when we need to deliver care now,” says Holland. There was an immediate need for imaging services to be expanded, and the new Imaging Center not only fills that void, it allows for future expansion as population and services continue to grow.
The new imaging location in the Health Services Building not only allows Bonner General Health to provide quicker and better imaging services, it allows the hospital community to better serve all patients with increased offerings, more space and faster results. “Expansion of the Imaging Center allows Bonner General Health to continue to provide quality, compassionate care to this growing community and its surrounding areas,” says Cary.
The Imaging Center is now large enough to accommodate a future second mammography unit, allowing the center to expand as it works to meet the needs of a still growing community, but still provides the small-town connection and sincerity that people expect and love about our local hospital.
Likewise, the addition of a new unit will allow the center to keep openings in the schedule for time-sensitive exams and procedures like biopsies and screening call backs—times when patients might feel anxious and will benefit from quick testing and results. It will also reduce the backlog for screening exams, provide more patient flexibility, and allow patients to schedule appointments at times that work best for them, rather than having to accept whatever appointment is available—a win-win for both the hospital and the community.
“I personally feel that a mammogram can be seen as an investment in promoting health and wellness to all women and their families in this community. If a woman comes to our new imaging facility for an exam as simple as a routine mammogram, this is our opportunity to show them what BGH is all about,” says Cary. “If they are happy with the way they were treated, comfortable in their surroundings and happy with their results, I feel like this woman is more likely to return to Bonner General Health for other health-care needs, as well as bring their family members and loved ones to Bonner General Health in the future.”
In addition to convenient access and quicker testing and results, the new Imaging Center is dedicated to creating a welcoming environment where patients feel comfortable and cared for during their imaging services. From the time a patient contacts the center for an appointment to when they are greeted at the door and throughout the imaging process, the vision is for patients to feel calm, reassured and professionally cared for. “Our friendly, caring experienced team of registered technologists strive to provide exceptional patient care during your exam, while providing quality images to our team of radiologists,” says Cary.
Since its opening on August 1, the Imaging Center has filled a vital need in the community, while offering a warm, inviting space for patients. “As far as how patients have received our new Imaging Department, some patient comments have been how nice it is to be out of the hospital setting in a more calm environment, cheery with the natural lighting (we have many wonderful windows over here), faster check-in/check-out due to only outpatient exams. This has been a wonderful addition for us as far as patient care for our community," adds Cheryl Weisz, lead mammographer who has worked at Bonner General for almost 25 years.
As the Sandpoint community continues to grow, Bonner General aspires to bring quality health offerings, expanded services and a continued small-town, friendly environment to patients, and the new Imaging Center is a big part of its continuing efforts to improve health-care services for the community.
To learn more about the Imaging Center and its services, or to make an appointment, visit BonnerGeneral.org/services/diagnostic-imaging.