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New state-of-the-art ultrasound for Castlegar emergency room

The Castlegar Hospital Foundation raised $70,000 to help purchase the device
Dr. Bbandama Makwati stands with the Sonosite LX ultrasound. Photo: Betsy Kline

Dr. Bbandama Makwati stands in the lobby of the Castlegar and District Community Health Centre (CDCHC) smiling like a proud father.

But it’s not a baby he is showing off, it’s a brand new state-of-the-art point-of-care ultrasound machine.

“It’s a beautiful, beautiful machine,” says Makwati, who is the director of the CDCHC emergency room.

Makwati was instrumental in identifying the need for a portable ultrasound machine and selecting and sourcing the Sonosite LX, but the bulk of the funding came from the Castlegar and District Hospital Foundation’s 2022 Light Up the Hospital Campaign.

In their most ambitious campaign to date, the foundation set and met a fundraising goal of $70,000 for the device. A number of Castlegar physicians and Interior Health pitched in to provide the remaining funds.

The ultrasound has been in use since the beginning of May.

A special training session for local doctors will be held later this month, but Makwati says the device is also equipped to train users itself. It comes loaded with instructional videos for many of the scans that will be done. Doctors will also have access to 400 instructional videos.

Emergency room nurses will also be able to use the device for things like inserting IV lines and bladder scanning.

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Makwati says the ultrasound will directly effect the quality of patient care offered at the centre.

Having this level of diagnostic imaging at a doctor’s fingertips means conditions can be diagnosed much quicker and patient transfers to other hospitals can be avoided, saving both the medical system and the patient money.

“There is nothing like having the right tools in the right place,” says Makwati.

Makwati says being able to diagnose and treat things on the spot can also help reduce the need for medications and avoid potential side effects.

It can also reduce the anxiety that travel, wait times and diagnostic delays can cause patients.

“We can’t thank the foundation and the community enough for raising the money,” said Makwati. “The doctors and staff are so happy — this is an amazing investment.”

The old ultrasound used in the emergency room has now been repurposed to be used in the urgent and primary care centre.

The next big thing on Makwati’s wish list is a touch-less tonometer, a device used to measure pressure in the eyes. The device currently in use at the centre needs to touch the eyeball, the new device will use air.

To donate to the Castlegar Hospital Foundation go to

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Betsy Kline

About the Author: Betsy Kline

After spending several years as a freelance writer for the Castlegar News, Betsy joined the editorial staff as a reporter in March of 2015. In 2020, she moved into the editor's position.
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