Hospital eyes new X-ray machine
Showing its age, X-ray equipment at Sonoma Valley Hospital that was more than 25-years-old broke down this month, sparking a request to the Sonoma Valley Health Care District board to approve an emergency equipment upgrade.
While the plea was made during a special meeting Thursday evening, the board isn't expected to take action on the request until its regular meeting April 7, after the finance committee has had the opportunity to vet the proposal.
The machinery could not be immediately repaired as the vendor of this type of x-ray equipment has gone out of business. The hospital found one technician capable of repairing the machine, but he was on vacation, meaning the equipment was out of commission for a week.
"There's almost no one who can fix this equipment," said Boardmember Bill Boerum.
The hospital has two X-ray rooms, so imaging services were not interrupted during the equipment breakdown. But it did cause a headache for hospital staff who had to schedule all of the hospital's patients through one imaging room.
"We limped along with one room," Boerum said.
The hospital's administration worked out a financial plan to fund the machine from the hospital's operating budget at a rate of $20,100 a month for five years, for a total of about $1.2 million. Hospital staff said it is critical to have two working X-ray rooms to meet the imaging demand, a steady source of revenue.
"If we don't replace the machine, there is some business implication because we could lose X-ray business," Boerum said. "This has implications for both inpatient and outpatient services. We need to have two rooms to operate effectively."
Because it is an emergency request, hospital staff is confident it can get through the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development inside of two months, a quick turnaround for the notoriously slow-moving organization. With another two months to design the space around the machine and two months of construction, the hospital could have the new equipment up and running inside of six months.
The board was generally supportive of the idea but, as is procedure, the finance committee will have first crack at the proposal during its meeting on Tuesday, March 29, in order to make a recommendation to the board.
"It seems clear to me we've got to move ahead with this," Boerum said.