2017-08-26 / News

New Ultrasound Machine Will Allow Faster Diagnosis, Treatment

Physician: Wear Bike Helmets To Help Prevent Head Injuries Commonly Seen Here
By Sasha Zidar


Dr. Gregory Hessler, full-time doctor at the Mackinac Island Medical Center, demonstrates the SonoTouch portable ultrasound machine obtained this summer with a $15,000 grant. It will provide for faster diagnosis and treatment of injuries and illnesses. Dr. Gregory Hessler, full-time doctor at the Mackinac Island Medical Center, demonstrates the SonoTouch portable ultrasound machine obtained this summer with a $15,000 grant. It will provide for faster diagnosis and treatment of injuries and illnesses. Faster diagnosis and treatment of injuries and other medical conditions now is available at the Mackinac Island Medical Center because it is equipped with a SonoTouch portable ultrasound machine purchased with a $15,000 donation to the Mackinac Straits Health Foundation from the Beaumont Fund and the Donald and Valerie Bortz Fund.

“We specifically bought it for patients who have trauma, and it’s to determine whether they have bleeding in their chest or in their abdominal cavity,” said Dr. Gregory Hessler, the full-time doctor at the Medical Center.

Before the Medical Center obtained its ultrasound machine, a radiologist would send saline solution through a small tube into the body cavity and pull it back out to examine. The doctor then would determine how many blood cells there were per unit of water and whether it was normal or abnormal. The procedure was time-consuming and was difficult to diagnose abdominal injuries.

Of the new ultrasound machine, Dr. Hessler said, “It’s so much more efficient and noninvasive and safer. It’s been a good thing to have.”

As staff members learn about the new SonoTouch, the ultrasound technician has asked some of them to be guinea pigs to test the new equipment. Once everyone on the medical staff has been trained to operate the machine, they all will use it to identify injuries quickly to provide the proper care.

Only a month after its arrival, the machine was used when a patient suffered a serious back injury after falling off a bike. Falling on the back triggers Dr. Hessler to check the kidneys and for internal bleeding. Bicycle and limb injuries comprise a third of medical visits at the Medical Center.

“It would be nice if everyone was wearing a bike helmet on the Island,” Dr. Hessler said, “because we would have so many fewer head injuries. It is amazing how many we have. We probably average one a day and, sometimes, we have three because, when people fall off their bikes, they often bang their head.”

Helmets are not required on Mackinac Island, but they are suggested to ensure safety. Tourist are also warned to look both ways while crossing the streets so they don’t step in front of a cyclist or horse.

It has been a busy summer for Dr. Hessler, with a constant flow of patients; he is the only fulltime doctor on staff, but the medical school residents rotate through the facility to assist.

“It has been enjoyable working here,” he said. “We’ve had some good doctors rotating through when I’m not here. The quality of the residents has been great. The staff and doctors have been wonderful. The most rewarding and enjoyable part for me is being able to work with them because they are really good people who are committed, motivated, and eager to learn.”

Dr. Hessler recently spent a day with the staff in the surgical department at Munson Healthcare Charlevoix Hospital to gain more experience putting tubes in trachea.

“I would love to see us working towards getting a more sophisticated scope,” Dr. Hessler said after visiting Charlevoix. “We are a free-standing emergency facility and you kind of want to be at the same standard as everybody else.”

The doctors and staff at Mackinac Island Medical Center have the resources and capabilities to provide many of the services found at larger facilities. Because of its geographic isolation and a small year-around community, the medical center doesn’t have such standard equipment as CAT scan and MRI machines or blood bags.

Dr. Hessler said the Medical Center staff does, however, want to optimize what it does with the equipment it has.

“The scope would be a really cool thing to have and is one of the things we may be a little behind with on technology,” said Dr. Hessler. “We bought the vein finder last year after receiving a generous grant from the Community Foundation and we use the vein finder all the time. The scope is something we will be looking into next.”

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