MOBILE LAB CASE STUDY:
Natividad Medical Center
As the only safety-net hospital in Monterey County—and one of 21 in California—Natividad Medical Center serves more than 135,000 patients each year. The 172-bed acute care hospital is also home to the Central Coast’s only inpatient/outpatient acute rehab program and is owned and operated by the county.
Aging CT Technology, Lack of Trauma Services, No IR Program
Regular challenges around NMC’s radiology services began to arise early in 2013. The hospital’s CT scanner was very timeworn, causing the hospital serious downtime around service and repair, according to NMC Laboratory and Radiology Manager Heidi Riggenbach.
Concurrently, Riggenbach explained, the ER was getting busier – the hospital receives about 47,000 emergency visits annually – and included an increasing number of trauma cases. The hospital was also implementing code neuro procedures.
It was then that NMC’s administrators knew it was time to upgrade the hospital’s technology, and that Riggenbach began the search for a CT lab project partner – specifically, one that would provide a seamless solution to ease the staff’s workflow, putting the focus back on patients, instead of equipment upkeep.
Riggenbach’s task became more unique when the county put out a request for proposals to its four hospitals. At that point, Monterey County was one of the few counties in California to lack a trauma center. In the quest to receive the Level II Trauma Center designation, NMC would require an interventional and angio mobile lab solution in addition to a mobile CT lab.
“Finding a company that offered options for one or the other was relatively easy,” Riggenbach said. “The difficulty was in finding a company that provided both solutions, and that had the experience to meet our tough California regulations.”
Unparalleled Service, Seamless Integration
With implementing new services and refining existing ones, NMC’s schedule was very constricted in the interim lab project’s initial timeline, Riggenbach recalled.
“Modular Devices was very accommodating for our schedule,” she said. “There were other vendors who were making it difficult to simply get an initial consultation.”
She also enjoyed was the ability to choose from differing imaging technologies.
“At first we weren’t sure if we wanted GE or Siemens equipment, and it was convenient that Modular had more than one option to choose from,” she said.
As for the trailer installation, Riggenbach described it in one word: simple.
“After having a few conference calls, the delivery went really smoothly. We let them know the date we preferred; they accommodated it. They arrived when we expected them to, installed the lab, provided training – and that was it.”
Since the installation of the mobile CT lab in September 2013, Riggenbach was pleased to report that uptime for NMC’s CT services is at 100%, and that turnaround time for ER has decreased.
“Previously, if we had an overflow of patients, they just had to wait. Now, a tech can take patients to the trailer for treatment.”
Furthermore, after the implementation of the 16-slice CT scanner lab, the hospital has added a few more advanced procedures that it was unable to accommodate before with its in-house 8-slice scanner.
Riggenbach said that the hospital staff is already looking forward to the integration of a two-year modular intervention lab in 2014.
“Our radiologists are very excited to offer this new service line. Before, our patients in need of these procedures didn’t have anywhere to go – now they don’t have to go somewhere else.”