By Mary Wade Burnside
Times West Virginian
A deal on a navigational bronchoscopy system that knocked $50,000 off the price has put the Fairmont General Hospital Foundation much closer to owning the piece outright, putting the group within another $50,000 of the final goal.
“We are hopeful that the community will come together again to help us reach our goal for navigational bronchoscopy,” said Frank Pulice Jr., director of the Foundation, in a statement. “We are committed to meeting this goal and continuing to make a difference in our community.”
Officials announced the intention to buy the equipment last April after the conclusion of its 18-month campaign to raise $500,000 for a new digital mammography machine.
“It was definitely needed,” said Whitney Rae Hatcher, Foundation coordinator.
The hospital’s pulmonologist, Dr. Prasad Devabhaktuni, recommended that the facility upgrade from the standard bronchoscopy machine.
“Dr. Dev came to us and said this is great technology and reasonably priced,” Hatcher said. “It gave us a project in the interim while we were finishing mammo and before we started the next big project. It was where we wanted the price point to be.”
The original price point for the equipment was $180,000, but the vendor, Minneapolis-based superDimension, gave the Foundation a $50,000 price cut. At this point, $80,000 has been raised; another $50,000 is needed, which the Foundation hopes to get by the end of the year.
The navigational bronchoscopy system can allow a physician to see a patient’s entire lung. The traditional one only shows one-third of the lung.
“This navigational bronchoscopy is way more digital,” Hatcher said. “It’s more like a GPS for your lungs is what they tell me.”
According to a press release, the navigational bronchoscopy combines electromagnetic navigation with real-time three-dimensional computed tomography (CT) images, enabling physicians to biopsy and treat masses in distant regions of the lungs. The equipment can detect lung tumors and diagnose lung cancer.
“The navigational bronchoscopy system provides the additional capacity to diagnose lung cancer early,” Devabhaktuni said in a release. “Lung cancer is prevalent in West Virginia and this would help us detect lung cancer earlier.”
According to information released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (www.cdc.gov) in 2012, in 2009, West Virginia had among the highest rates of lung cancer in the nation, along with Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Rhode Island and Tennessee. In these states, 71.9 to 96.9 patients per 100,000 are diagnosed with lung cancer, which put those regions in the highest category. Other categories were 28.1 to 56.9, 57 to 66 and 66.1 to 71.8 per 100,000 people.
When the release went out in April, Hatcher said, donations immediately began pouring in, primarily from the Foundation’s The Generals Club for annual giving, which accepts gifts from $100 to $9,999.
“A lot of people giving an annual gift, they needed a project for it to go toward,” she said.
The other clubs are FGHF Family, for employees; Foundation Friends, for gifts of $10,000 to $49,999 payable over three years; The Benefactors Society, for gifts of $50,000 or more payable over three years; Community Partners Corporate Gifts, for gifts of $3,000, $10,000 or $25,000 over three years; and the John R. Cook Legacy Circle: Planned Gifts, established to allow individuals or organizations to include Fairmont General in estate planning.
The equipment actually is already on site at the hospital; however, a physician needs to attend a training session so it is not yet in use, Hatcher said.
“The machine has been calibrated and the physician goes to training in November,” she added.
Unlike with the digital mammography unit, which also required the renovation of a suite, there already is a place for the navigational bronchoscopy.
“That’s the good thing,” Hatcher said. “With the mammography machine, we had to redo a room and get new furniture. With this, it will go into procedure room 1 downstairs and it will function down there once we start using it, which we hope will be toward the end of November.”
The digital mammography machine was dedicated Oct. 11 during the hospital’s Women’s Health Awareness Day, celebrated during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. At the ceremony, radiologist Dr. John Leon said mammograms at the hospital were up 25 percent since the machine went into use during the summer.
Even though the navigational system is on site and awaiting use, Hatcher emphasized that the Foundation still would appreciate community members who step up and make donations.
“The main message is that we have taken this chance,” she said. “We got a great deal and we’re saving $50,000. We hope the community will support us and help us meet our goal. By the end of the year, we would like to have it paid in full.”
The Foundation has not yet determined what will be the goal for the next fundraising campaign.
“For now, our biggest priority is completing this campaign,” Hatcher said. “Once this campaign is completed, we will work with the Fairmont General administration to determine the biggest capital needs for the hospital and decide from there.”
Email Mary Wade Burnside at firstname.lastname@example.org.