Oswego Hospital, which is part of Oswego Health in Central New York, is a small, nonprofit community hospital with 164 patient beds. It was founded in 1881 to provide care to all residents, no matter their income or other factors. Today, Oswego Hospital offers acute medicine, emergency, surgical, maternity, and behavioral services. Of course, Medical Imaging plays a large role in delivering these services.
The hospital has been using a variety of Carestream imaging solutions since 2016, including a CARESTREAM DRX-Revolution Mobile X-ray system. The hospital had looked for a total radiology solution while transitioning from CR to DR technology and determined that Carestream was the best choice overall.
“Carestream is our overall X-ray solution. We always start with what we have right now and when we need something, we’ll call Carestream to see if there’s a solution,” said Megan McManus, Medical Imaging Manager at Oswego Hospital.
Initially, radiographers primarily used the DRX-Revolution to take chest and other X-rays at the bedside of patients who were too ill or frail to be moved, but the craziness of COVID-19 quickly expanded the way that Oswego Hospital put the DRX-Revolution to work.
COVID’s Multiple Challenges
Oswego Hospital, like so many other hospitals all over the country, was deluged with patients during peak COVID-19 waves. The hospital saw many new patients and at one point, 80 percent of the patients being treated had the virus.
With high transmission rates and the necessity to keep patients and their staff safe, the hospital was very concerned about transporting patients through the facility for imaging studies. Some of the patients were elderly and very ill, making transportation even more difficult and uncomfortable. Transporting patients also required a large usage of personal protective equipment (PPE) that was in limited supply early on in New York State. Clinical staff members, including radiographers, did everything they could to protect themselves and their patients throughout the hospital and help contain the spread of the virus, all while being conservative with PPE use.
“During peak Covid as a technologist, how are you going to take a patient in for imaging? It’s not just PPE, it’s time,” explained David Ruel, Senior Director of Ancillary Services at Oswego Health. “The DRX-Revolution was the solution – it’s an X-ray room on wheels, so techs were able to just wheel the portable in and not have to transport that patient across the facility.”
Additionally, various challenges delayed Oswego Hospital’s replacement of equipment in a DR imaging room.
Oswego Hospital’s enterprising radiology team realized that they could address many of the challenges by expanding their use of the nimble DRX-Revolution Mobile Imaging System.
The mobile unit from Carestream enabled Oswego Hospital’s imaging department to keep potentially infected patients in their beds. This minimized the need to transport them across the hospital to Radiology, reducing unnecessary COVID-19 exposure to other staff and patients. The staff took frequent bedside chest X-rays of each COVID-infected patient per day.
“Bedside imaging mitigates safety risks,” explained Mr. Ruel. “Not only safety risks to the patient but safety risks to the staff. If the image quality is there, bedside imaging is the way to go. And with the DRX-Revolution, the image quality has always been there.”
Especially during peak waves of the virus, the DRX-Revolution helped Oswego Hospital conserve the use of their limited PPE supplies and reduce the number of staff required in a patient’s room.
The radiographers not only found the DRX-Revolution quick to learn and easy to use but also found creative ways to take X-rays and get high-quality exams using clear barriers to protect themselves and their patients. No matter where or how the imaging staff captured X-rays, the radiologists were highly impressed with the image quality delivered by the DRX-Revolution.
“It’s so much easier and better to do bedside imaging instead of transporting people,” emphasized John Nelson, Radiologic Technician. “Also, patients like to stay in their bed. The hard X-ray table can be uncomfortable.”
In 2021 alone, Oswego Hospital’s staff captured 5,500 X-rays using the DRX-Revolution. The simple, intuitive workflow features of the mobile unit, together with the universal software interface Carestream uses in its imaging equipment, made cross-training fast and easy. The patient barcode reader and employee badge scanner also helped to mitigate safety risks and streamline radiographer workflow.
“Carestream truly designed the DRX-Revolution with the technologist in mind,” explained Mr. Ruel. “The detector is always charged, and the unit is a great design. It’s been easy to set the technologists up because the badge reading sets the DRX-Revolution apart. From the minute we got it, we started using the badge reader – no more needing to remember a login, and with the barcode scanner in the front, we’ve gone down to zero mis-administrations. Techs can go from unit to unit in the hospital, log in and start using it without needing to learn a new device. The staff want another DRX-Revolution.”
“You could image three patients with the portable system in ten minutes,” added Mr. Nelson. “It’s the little thought-out features on the Revolution that help the technologists. There’s even a holder for materials where you can put tape, wipes, and markers. There are so many little things that matter, and anything to expedite the process and do it more safely was so important, especially during peak Covid.”
Filling the Gaps in DR Imaging
When the hospital’s DR room replacement was delayed, Oswego Hospital’s staff came up with a creative interim solution based on what they experienced with the DRX-Revolution. During the height of the pandemic, Oswego Hospital’s observant imaging staff realized that they could use the mobile system to capture X-rays that were normally taken in the room – with no noticeable loss in image quality. Once past their peak waves of COVID, the staff placed the Carestream mobile unit in their DR Room and used it there for almost three months until the new DR room equipment was installed. Staff remarked that the DRX-Revolution tube head was more flexible than the tube head in their previous X-ray room.
“When we first used the DRX-Revolution we did mostly chest X-rays, but then our techs started getting creative in ways to stay safe while getting the same X-ray image quality that they’re used to seeing with our room equipment,” said Ms. McManus. “Now they’ve gotten so used to the portable, and I don’t think it has any limitations compared to using a room. And our radiologists don’t see any difference when they see X-rays captured on the mobile compared to the X-ray room. We even use it in the OR sometimes.”
“Now if there’s a fluoroscopy case going on we can go ahead and use the DRX-Revolution system in the ER, which was our dedicated room while the new DR room was being installed,” added Mr. Nelson. “All in all, the DRX-Revolution served a great purpose. It was a workhorse.”
Training With Ease
During COVID, Oswego Health brought on new radiographers and had to cross-train existing staff on imaging modalities. The DRX-Revolution’s intuitive features and efficient workflow-minded design made training new users easy, allowing the hospital to maintain optimal patient throughput rates.
“During COVID, we brought on new radiographers; and had to cross-train staff that is traditionally in CT or MR roles to go back into X-ray. One person hadn’t taken X-rays in 10 years. She was shown how to use the DRX-Revolution in about an hour and then was good to go. No issues,” said Ms. McManus.
“The tube itself is great on the DRX-Revolution,” added Mr. Nelson. “It moves very, very well and easily. You can get into tight spaces with it. The grid on the Revolution is more forgiving. Plus, the software is universal. Carestream’s devices are all integrated the same. If you know one, you know them all.”
Altogether, the DRX-Revolution has proven to be a total solution. Together, with the innovative staff at Oswego Hospital, the mobile system overcame the challenges experienced before, during, and after the peak of the pandemic.
“It’s been a cool ride with Carestream,” summarized Mr. Ruel. “They were willing to look at our workflow and what we’re doing to help us make things better. I’ve committed to Carestream as our X-ray solution and we’re always looking to see what we can do with Carestream.”
This article was originally published on Carestream’s Everything Rad blog: Mobile Imaging Became a Hero for This Small Central NY Hospital – During and After Peak COVID-19