Scarborough Health Network offers a variety of diagnostic and medical imaging services to diagnose and treat patients. Performing over 350,000 procedures each year, it is a vital part of our health care system and a crucial first step in identifying the cause of disease or illness. We spoke to Tom Jackson, director of medical imaging at General hospital, about the importance of their work and the new Medical Imaging and Vascular Centre currently under construction.
1. SHN provides medical imaging across our three hospitals. What are some of the most common reasons that people coming into our hospitals require these services?
Patients attend diagnostic imaging for a variety of reasons, and the majority of the work we do is diagnostic in nature. It could be performed in response to an injury suffered by a patient, investigation for or follow-up on various cancers, cardiac studies and screening programs (e.g. breast cancer screening).
We perform minimally invasive interventional procedures such as biopsies and studies of the vascular system and therapeutic interventions, including non-cardiac angioplasty, vascular stenting, embolizations and thyroid ablation therapy.
Patients come from anywhere within the hospital, including the emergency department, inpatient units or outpatient clinics. We also see several patients referred from their primary care health care provider who attend DI directly from the community.
2. Right now, SHN’s medical imaging and vascular services are scattered across five different locations at the General hospital. What does this mean from a care point of view, and how can we improve this experience?
Having the department fragmented across the building can be confusing and frustrating for our patients. Depending on the type of procedure they are coming for, it can mean going from one end of the building to the other, from the basement to the 5th floor of the tower. If they have multiple tests in the same visit, they may have to move between exams. Patients can be anxious when they visit the hospital for a test, and adding any additional challenges is not ideal.
The new Medical Imaging and Vascular Centre in the General hospital will bring the services together in one location, making it much easier for patients to navigate. It will also address many shortcomings of our current facilities such as private change areas, accessible washrooms, monitored sub-waiting rooms and simply present a much more comfortable and aesthetically pleasing experience.
3. What are the next steps in making the new Medical Imaging and Vascular Centre a reality?
Right now, we are in the fourth out of five stages of the project. The final construction drawings are now in development, and once finalized and approved by the Ministry of Health, construction will begin. Space is currently sitting vacant in General for where the new concourse will be, so once the plans are approved, things will move quickly.
The Foundation is working with generous donors and supporters to raise the amount of funds necessary to outfit the space, purchase updated technology and bring all of our medical imaging services into one location.
The state-of-the-art Centre will increase capacity, reduce wait times in certain areas like interventional radiology, modernize our technology, and enhance care delivery to our patients.
4. You’ve been with SHN for almost 35 years. What inspires you the most about the community we serve?
I’m most inspired by the dedication and commitment of our diagnostic imaging team. Day in and day out, they come to work and focus on providing the best care and experience they can for our patients. Technology advances very quickly in our field, so we’re always learning and adapting to new equipment, techniques and protocols.
Across our three hospitals, we perform over 350,000 procedures each year. Our services are always in demand with the needs continually growing, so managing the ever-increasing volumes of patients and ensuring they receive compassionate care is something our team excels in.
As for the Scarborough community, diversity and resilience is something that has always inspired me. Our SHN staff truly reflect our community’s diversity, and I think that is important when treating patients. When you can treat them in their own language and be mindful of their cultural needs, it leads to a better experience.
5. We rely on donors to purchase life-saving equipment and technology, like medical imaging machines. What would you say to encourage people to give to SHN so we can continue delivering exceptional care?
Diagnostic imaging equipment is expensive, and the technology advances quickly. We want to have the latest technology available to provide answers to our patient's health concerns and provide their physicians with the answers they need to develop a treatment plan.
Donor support is crucial – that’s where the majority of funds for new equipment come from. Maintaining state-of-the-art technology not only has a profound impact on our patients but also ensures we can attract and retain talented staff and physicians. By providing them with up-to-date equipment and facilities, they can do their job better and give the patients of Scarborough the world-class care they need and deserve.