by Susan Hanna

The Almonte General Hospital’s Diagnostic Imaging department has expanded its hours, making it more convenient for patients to schedule X-ray and ultrasound appointments.

The AGH radiology (X-ray) hours are now 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday to Friday. On-call staff are available after hours for emergency cases.

Ultrasound hours are now 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays and Fridays, 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, and from noon to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

 “We have added several hours a day for radiology appointments and have added weekend hours for ultrasound appointments,” said AGH Diagnostic Imaging Director Kathy O’Connell. “Patients now have more options, including evening appointments for radiology.”

In addition to hiring extra staff to perform more X-rays and ultrasounds, AGH also now has a booking clerk to schedule diagnostic imaging appointments. The booking clerk, whose hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Friday, can be reached at 613-256-2514, extension 2114.

“We encourage patients to drop off or fax their requisition form to us ahead of time, or ask their doctor to fax it to us, so we know in advance what type of test they need,” said Ms. O’Connell. The fax number is 613-256-6588.

 The AGH Diagnostic Imaging department provides radiology and ultrasound services to patients from Renfrew to Ottawa.

Radiology services include general X-rays, stomach x-rays, barium enemas, ECGs (electrocardiograms) and Holter monitors, where a patient wears a machine for 24 to 48 hours that monitors their heart.

Once an X-ray is taken, the image is entered in the Hospital’s Picture Archiving and Communications System (PACS). It is then sent electronically to the PACs storage system in Winchester. AGH X-rays are read by radiologists from the Ottawa Hospital and AGH receives the results immediately.

Ottawa Hospital cardiologists read the results from Holter monitors.

AGH’s computer technology also permits it to get ECG results within a week, instead of two weeks.

AGH is also part of a diagnostic imaging repository that provides centralized storage for X-rays and other diagnostic images for hospitals in Northern and Eastern Ontario.

AGH ultrasound technologists examine almost every area of the body, including the abdomen, pelvis, reproductive system, carotid artery, breast, scrotum, leg veins, arteries, and thyroid. AGH is also one of a limited number of hospitals in the area that provide musculo-skeletal ultrasounds and pediatric ultrasounds.

As is the case with radiology, ultrasound images are uploaded to PACS. Ottawa Hospital radiologists review the ultrasounds and dictate the results, which are typed automatically at AGH. It often takes no more than two days to get results, although it’s sometimes up to a week.