WHEELING - Changes in technology move faster than some people would like, but in the health care world new technology can mean improved health outcomes for patients and a new direction for doing business.
With this in mind, local hospital officials say they continue to upgrade their facilities and equipment to benefit their patients.
Ron Violi, chief executive officer of Wheeling Hospital, described the hospital's new $50 million Tower 5 addition as one of the most modern trauma centers in the nation. It also contains private rooms.
"We constantly monitor new technologies coming into the system and how they work. In Tower 5, in the emergency and trauma rooms, that's all the latest technology. There's nothing anywhere that has better technology than that," Violi said. "There's a GE 128-slice CT scanner. These machines are seeing things in people we've never seen before, to the point that physicians look at them and don't know what they're going to do with them. Because they haven't been able to see them for years - growths in the body had to be much bigger before they could be identified."
The hospital has created a new Center for Pediatrics and most recently a Lung Nodule Evaluation Center.
It also is employing more specialists including high-risk pregnancy doctors, along with pediatric pulmonologists, surgeons and endocrinologists.
"Every day we look for an opportunity to bring a service line into the Wheeling area that hasn't been done before," he said.
Laurie Labishak, spokeswoman for Ohio Valley Medical Center and East Ohio Regional Hospital, said during the past few years the hospitals have invested in new technology to serve the community.
"Super Dimension Bronchoscopy is only offered at EORH. This is a high-tech, minimally invasive procedure to diagnose lung abnormalities. We've also added an operating room module with tracking board for patients," she said.
Other technologies being used at the hospitals include a bedside medication verification system, a computerized physician order entry, a Concerro Electronic schedule module for staff, Baxter smart IV pumps and open MRI.
"We purchased new radiology equipment in 2013 include state-of-the-art CT scanning machines," Labishak said.
In Glen Dale, Reynolds Memorial Hospital spokeswoman Melissa Marco said Reynolds is proceeding with plans to use electronic records to become paperless. The facility also is exploring new ways to reach patients via social media.
Before being able to move forward with electronic recordkeeping, Reynolds had to meet all the "meaningful use" criteria set by the national health care law, she said.
To meet a growing demand for services and new technology, Wetzel County Hospital recently expanded its emergency room.
"We're very proud of our newly remodeled and expanded emergency department," said Brian Felici, Wetzel County Hospital administrator. "We provide 24-hour emergency/trauma care and, if necessary, we have immediate and direct access to transportation to have our patients flown to hospitals that can provide more specialized care."
We have recently initiated a hospitalist program, which provides a continuum of care for our patients who either do not have primary care physicians, or whose physicians do not admit patients."