capabilities at ETMC Athens
By Toni Garrard Clay
Special to The Monitor
ATHENS–”Revolutionary. Mind-blowing. Phenomenal.
The reviews are more commonly associated with a blockbuster
movie, but they’re actually being applied to a spectacular piece
of equipment acquired by ETMC Athens.
The 64-slice computed tomography scanner is top-of-the-line in
producing detailed images of the body’s anatomy.
“We’re talking Discovery Channel stuff,” raves Richard Vasquez,
radiology department director. He is as proud of the CT scanner
as a new dad. “Performance-wise this machine is a Ferrari.”
The 64-slice CT scanner has two key features earning its racecar
analogy: incredible speed and breathtaking imagery.
Once a person is comfortably lying on the scanner bed, his
entire body can be scanned in 10 seconds.
In that 10 seconds, 800 image slices or more are collected and
instantaneously pieced together again, creating a 3-D image of
the body’s anatomy.
The image slices are stacked together much like a loaf of bread
– only seamlessly.
“I’ve been in this field 20 years, and this is the best thing to
come along,” a training specialist with Philips Medical Systems,
which manufactured the new scanner Gary Nearing said.
“We’re talking about volumetric scanning here, which means we
can see everything – the heart, the brain, blood vessels – in
all three dimensions,” he said.
Consider the case of an imaginary patient who has a possible
mass somewhere behind his jawbone.
His physician orders a head scan, and he ends up in the 64-slice
CT scanner, where each of the 64 detectors pick up an x-ray beam
as it spins around the patient’s head, then computes the
densities of the tissues the beam has passed through, and
finally produces an image of that slice of the body.
Those images are then meshed together, allowing the specialist
to look inside that patient’s head from all possible angles:
from straight on, from above, behind, below.
A simple computer screen pass of the mouse over the image can
peel away layers of tissue, muscles and vessels. Another pass of
the mouse layers them right back again. Certain details can be
highlighted and deleted, in order to get a clearer picture – and
all of this in seconds, and at the operator’s discretion.
“The overall benefit to the community is clear,” Vasquez said.
“Our people don’t have to go to Tyler or Dallas or anywhere else
to get this kind of imaging. … We’re in the hi-tech imaging
The benefit to the emergency department is considerable as well,
given the machine’s diagnostic speed: a full body scan in 10
seconds is remarkable, particularly in light of the history of
In the early ’80s, a head scan alone took about 30 minutes.
Pat Wallace, ETMC Athens administrator, said the new scanner is
an example of the hospital’s commitment to the people of
“We continuously strive to bring the latest in technology close
to home,” he said.
Cardiologists and radiologists are getting images of the heart
never before possible.
The 64-slice scanner is capable of capturing images of the heart
between contractions, so that the image isn’t blurred by motion.
“The evolution of speed,” said Vasquez, “is phenomenal.”
And the highest point of that evolution is here in Henderson
Commissioners hold lengthy session
By Wilbur Callaway
CANTON—The Van Zandt County Commissioners held a lengthy session
with outgoing Van Zandt County Clerk Elizabeth Everitt and
incoming Van Zandt County Clerk Charlotte Bledsoe about
contracting for real property records imaging and indexing.
Discussion centered on a proposed contract with Tyler
Technology-Eagle Division for a new system which would increase
microfilming of county records and eliminate hard copy.
The lease renewal of hardware would cost $96.50 per month, and
software would be available to convert records back to 1971 and
1994 by imaging and indexing.
The total cost per year for all the equipment necessary would be
$115,800, compared to the $177,159 a year which the county has
been paying, according to Everitt.
Bledsoe noted the system now being used is Windows 98, which she
said “is very outdated and needed to be replaced.”
Precinct 4 Commissioner Ron Carroll asked if the contract should
be put out for bids, and Bledsoe had mentioned the same thing
earlier in the discussion.
The court agreed to check out the legality of putting it out for
bids or accepting the contract offered by Tyler-Technological.
Van Zandt County Judge Rhita Koches said she would talk to the
Texas Attorney General’s office, and then probably call a
special meeting of the commissioners court to make a decision.
In other business, commissioners:
• honored outgoing county officials Everitt (county clerk), Judy
Peoples (county treasurer), David Risner (county commissioner),
and Tracey Garner (justice of the peace). (See related story and
• had extension agent Brian Cummins present the commissioners
with gift paperweights, and Bill Moser from NetData present them
with gift baskets.
• dispensed with reading of the Dec. 12 meeting and approved
them as written.
• approved county bills for payment as submitted.
• entered monthly reports from various county departments.
• approved the annual report for the Van Zandt County Historical
Commission presented by VZCHC Chairman Donald K. Plemmons.
Approval of the members to serve on the commission for 2007/08
was delayed until the Jan. 23 court meeting.
• approved bonds for county clerk Bledsoe, Koches, district
clerk Karen Wilson, commissioner Virgil Melton Jr., county
treasurer Terry Shepard, Justices of the Peace Ronnie Daniell,
Michael Scott Shinn and Don Kirkpatrick.
• declared emergencies to transfer funds to Precinct 3 Road and
Bridge. The funds are $110,000 received from the City of Dallas
for construction of raw water transmission pipeline and $100,000
received from North Texas Municipal Water District for Tawakoni
• authorized Precinct 3 Commissioner Kelles Miller to hire an
additional full-time worker for the month of January to replace
Albert Willingham, who is retiring at the end of the month.
• agreed to contract with Grimes Crane Service for evidence
storage containers at the sheriff’s office for $625 per month.
• approved a budget amendment for Miller.
• set the next meeting for Jan. 9
New books at the
Special to The Monitor
MABANK–For young adults, the Tri-County Library in downtown
Mabank, is featuring “Riley’s Fire,” by Artemis Fowl, a story
based on an actual event in the life of the author.
Also, “Opal Deception,” in hardback and audio tape, “Jerry
Spinelli,” read by the late John Ritter and several more audio
The last Lemony Snicket book, “The End is here,” and “Nobody’s
Perfect,” by Marlee Matlin for junior readers.
Other new books are: “Cross,” by James Patterson, “Next,” by
Michael Crichton, “Dear John,” by Nicholas Sparks, “Shape
Shifter,” by Tony Hillerman, “Lisey’s Story,” by Stephen King,
“Saving Graces,” by Elizabeth Edwards, “Inside my Heart,” by
Robin McGraw and “Audacity of Hope,” by Barack Obama.
Also, a new diet book featured on Oprah, “You on a Diet.”
It’s tax time again and the Tri-County Library and Peggy Rogers
will be available to help with your income tax.
Call the library at (903) 887-9622, telling when you can be
reached and Rogers will call to set up an appointment time.
As a VITA volunteer and former IRS employee, Rogers’ expert tax
help is free.
Remember, the Tri-County Library is here for you. Learning from
the past, living in the present and looking to the future.
Be a part of the library by volunteering a few hours each week.
You’ll meet many people in the community and have the
opportunity to help others.
Share your talent.