During the pandemic, Nathan Littauer Hospital performed portable X-rays on about 20 patients each day, about double the number of patients before the pandemic, according to the director of diagnostic imaging and cardiopulmonary services, Dwayne Eberle.
So when the hospital’s second x-ray machine, an outdated analog machine, stopped working reliably in December, hospital leaders knew they needed a new digital machine to help support the other digital machine.
The problem was that while the pandemic increased the demand for emergency services, it drove up staffing costs due to the need for contract staff and significantly diminished the hospital’s ability to perform cost-effective outpatient procedures, resulting in for the first time a budget deficit. in two decades, according to Geoffrey Peck, vice president of Population Health and executive director of the Nathan Littauer Foundation.
“In a year where we had over $9 million in capital requests from our departments, we had a budget of just $2 million, so this is the first time in over 20 We’ve needed truly emergency capital for years,” Peck said.
This meant that to get a new X-ray machine, the hospital – which is a 74-bed full-service acute care hospital with an 84-bed qualified nursing home – needed help.
Enter Stewart’s Shops and the Dake family, who donated $100,000 on Monday to pay for a second GE AMX 240 portable x-ray machine.
“We had two machines – one analog, one digital – but when the analog system started to die, that’s when we knew we had to contact a supporter,” said Sean Fadale, the head of the hospital. CEO and President. “And Stewart’s Shops was top of the list to help us replace that equipment so we could provide the care that our patients and our community needed.”
The digital machine can deliver high quality images instantly, whereas the analog machine required a process that took between 5 and 10 minutes to convert analog files into a readable digital format. It may not seem like a lot of time, but in a healthcare environment, where literally every second can mean life or death, time is critical.
“If you are inserting a catheter, or if you go into cardiac arrest and [doctors] want to see your chest X-ray immediately, we have it,” Eberle said. “A snap of the finger is there for the provider to treat patients.”
The machine can also be transported throughout the hospital — the emergency room, the intensive care unit — eliminating the need to move patients to the imaging center, Eberle said.
All of this can increase efficiency, hospital leaders say.
“The sooner we can change things — for our patients, for our providers — the better off we all are, and the better the potential outcomes we can get from these interactions,” said fadal.
This is not the first time that Stewart’s has provided major financial support to the hospital. The convenience store chain also donated $250,000 to help support the 2019 construction of the Nathan Littauer Primary Care Center in Gloversville, a project that totaled $4 million, according to Peck.
The check for $100,000 for the x-ray unit was presented by Brittany DuRose, who manages Stewart’s Meco location.
“I think it’s just fantastic to be able to provide a benefit to help patients get images in a timely manner,” DuRose said.
Stewart’s said the company is happy to help local communities.
“Stewart’s Shops is committed to giving back to all of our store communities. Helping keep people healthy with a donation for a new portable X-ray machine to Nathan Littauer Hospital is an important part of that commitment,” said Erica Komoroske, Director of Public Affairs.
The hospital will officially order the machine at its next board meeting on Feb. 22, and executives expect it to arrive and be operational within three months, according to Fadal.
As for the hospital’s budget, Peck is confident that finances will return to the black as the impact of the pandemic subsides.
“We know that in 18 months we will be a different organization than we are today, but today is where we are,” he said.
Andrew Waite can be reached at [email protected] and at 518-417-9338. Follow him on Twitter @UpstateWaite.