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Improved Imaging at SMMC Radiology department

Improved Imaging at SMMC Radiology department

Cayhill- The Radiology Department at the St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) has been recently engaged in an educational training and upgrading course from radiologist Dr. Herman Schuttevaer and radiology technicians from the Rijnland Ziekenhuis (Rijnland) in the Netherlands. Dr. Schuttevaer has 25 years of work experience at Rijnland. He specialises in interventional radiology and mammography.


In February of this year, Dr. Schuttevaer came to the SMMC as a rotating specialist, maintaining the continuity of care while SMMC was still in search of a permanent specialist. He noticed that the CT scan machine used in SMMC was the same machine used in the Netherlands. The technology of this medical equipment is very good for any hospital but even more beneficial, is the knowledge and skills of the radiology technicians who use the machine.


Together, Rijnland and the SMMC arranged a bilateral education program with the objective to improve the knowledge and skills of SMMC radiology technicians to achieve the maximum level of quality service that can be provided with the technology at SMMC.


For a period of two weeks in October, two radiology technicians, Hans Pietersen and Kristen Hofkes, gave on the job training to our radiology technicians in Sint Maarten. Hans specializes in CT scan and Kristen in mammography and bucky, both have over 13 years of experience as radiology technicians. The training continued in November with two other radiology technicians, Emmy Limpens, CT specialist and Marianne Hoeven, mammography and bucky specialist.


Radiology technicians, especially in larger hospitals, specialize in one or two modalities; CT scan, mammography and bucky imaging to name a few. This improves their expertise. In a smaller hospital, where there is naturally a smaller staff, the technicians do all three modalities. This is one of the challenges for this department at a small hospital as SMMC. Rather than looking at this limitation, the training focused on achieving the maximum level that is possible within the SMMC.


By the end of the trainings, in early December, Dr. Schuttevaer visited the SMMC once more and evaluated the progress and has concluded that the training has improved at several points and he has made a summary of the three most important points. Firstly, all CT examinations will be performed according standardized protocols. This is a goal that is currently being worked on. Dr. Schuttevaer compares the radiology examination protocols to a cooking recipe. “There are several ways to cook one meal. We have chosen to use only a balanced selection.” This is a big advantage, because the radiologist can better compare the information of one exam to another. The new protocols used for the CT exams are the same ones used in the Rijnland Ziekenhuis.


Secondly, patients already are having less exposure to radiation. During the training, the visiting technicians emphasised the importance of having the right positioning to minimise exposure to radiation and adjusted the protocols to the latest standards. The technicians now use a questionnaire to ask the patient about their health to find more specific information of what they should examine.


Third, and most importantly, the radiology technicians have better knowledge of their work, to give improved imaging. They were very enthusiastic about learning and are already seeing positive changes.


The SMMC is always seeking the optimal radiology imaging at our radiology department. Future plans may lead to more training for the technicians in Rijnland in the Netherlands, where the number of CT scans made a day is three to four times more as made in the SMMC. This will facilitate faster learning with more hands-on experience. Educational growth will remain a focal point within the radiology department and other departments of the SMMC. As new health technology and information is introduced our staff will be trained to provide quality service to our patients.








In photo: (Left to right) Radiology technician, Gavin Cossiah; Dr. Herman Schuttevear; Radiology supervisor, Geraldine Eerland; Medical Secretary, Shanta Richardson; Ward  Clerk, Akeem Adams and Radiology technician, Candy Krazendijk.

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