People, Places & Events

Revolutionary imaging capabilities at ETMC Athens
By Toni Garrard Clay
Special to The Monitor

ATHENS–”Revolutionary. Mind-blowing. Phenomenal. Beautiful.”
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.
Vasquez agrees.
“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 game.”
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 these scanners.
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 Henderson County.
“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 County.

VZ Commissioners hold lengthy session
By Wilbur Callaway
Monitor Correspondent

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 photo.)
• 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 Pipeline project.
• 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 Tri-County Library
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 tapes.
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.