Delta Hospital Offers Digital Chest X-Rays For Coal Miners

Jan 21st @ 7:10 am in News, People, Public Service by Scott Staley

The Radiology Department at Delta County Memorial Hospital (DCMH) has always been customer driven to help over 200 coal miners each year obtain the required and voluntary chest x-rays in order to work for coal mine employers.  Now this local, community hospital is one of the first in the nation to be approved to send digital chest x-rays, according to hospital administrator,Jason Cleckler.

What does this mean to coal miners? Coal miners now may obtain chest x-rays every day at the Delta hospital, rather than only twice a week as in the past.

“Our Delta County Hospital recognizes the economic impact of coal mining companies and their mine employees.  This hospital strives to offer medical services needed by our county, such as chest x-rays for the coal miners.  We also work with coal mine companies to offer on-site, coal mine health fairs to mine employees with blood pressure checks, blood work, flu vaccine shots, tetanus shots, and cardio vascular assessments,” CEO Cleckler stated.

Coal miners from the Western Slope of Colorado, Northern New Mexico and Utah have traveled to the Delta hospital radiology department for their chest x-rays, as it is one of the only hospitals in the region who continue to offer chest x-rays to coal miners.  Many hospitals stopped offering chest x-rays to miners when their radiology departments upgraded to digital imaging.  DCMH continued to operate the older imaging processor that required changing out of chemicals and higher maintenance costs solely to help the coal miners and their employers.

The new federal regulations have allowed DCMH’s Radiology Department, after a great deal of testing and instituting process changes to integrate digital technology and make it available to area coal miners.  This improvement saves an estimated $13,000 a year that was previously spent on supplies and maintenance.  Using the latest digital imaging, which has been used with all other types of imaging studies in Radiology since 2009, chest x-rays required of all coal miners at pre-employment, and at different intervals during their employment may now be transmitted more efficiently, quickly and cost effectively.    

For the past 18 months the Radiology Department at the Delta hospital has worked cooperatively with the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Coal Workers’ Health Surveillance Program to create the procedures and protocol for sending and receiving digital chest x-rays.  This government agency and our community hospital worked together sending test images that would be secure for patients to ensure their medical records would not be compromised when they were sent digitally, in compliance with federal patient privacy regulations (HIPPA).

“DCMH Radiology became a test site with NIOSH in 2010.  We have worked diligently with NIOSH for the past 18 months to accomplish the goal of sending coal miners’ chest x-rays digitally,” explained Jeff Richmond,Delta County Memorial Hospital’s Manager of Radiology.

The Delta County Memorial Hospital Radiology Department has two full time radiologists on staff, in addition to 26 radiological technologists. Imaging studies for patients are referred by physicians and may include:  Digital x-rays and portable digital x-rays; CT scans and PET scans for oncology patients, MRIs, mammography, ultrasound, bone density, nuclear medicine (bone, thyroid, heart), or fluoroscopy procedures.

For more information on Delta County Memorial Hospital’s radiology department services please call (970) 874-2214 or 874-2215.