October has been busy at the Telluride Regional Medical Center. Other than preparing for flu season, including offering and administering flu shots, the med center recently received a new computed tomography (CT) scanner and relaunched a popular program.

Now patients seeking care for respiratory symptoms, breaks, fractures, tumors or trauma can expect faster answers and enhanced care thanks to the new scanner equipment paid for by community donations to the Telluride Medical Center Foundation.

The CT scanner, according to director of trauma and emergency services Dr. Diana Koelliker, will offer a profound improvement in quality of scans, particularly in terms of image reconstructions for head and spine injury and the use of angiography to determine vascular issues, as it improves the clinic’s technology from a 16-slice CT scan to an 128-slice one.

Jonathan Godisak, med center radiology manager, explained that benefits the patient in more ways than one.

“We’ll have more detectors, which means larger volume coverage and shorter scan times. Shorter scan times equals less radiation per patient,” he said in a med center news release.

Additionally, the 128-slice CT scanner can also adapt to provide three-dimensional images for patients with orthopedic needs, and prove critical in detecting internal injuries and bleeding caused by trauma.

This life-saving piece of equipment was made possible by a capital campaign that was kick started in 2020 by an anonymous donation of just over $100,000 and further buoyed by a $50,000 pledge from the Telluride Women Give, a philanthropic group dedicated to the community’s health care needs. Many individual donors contributed the remaining $330,000 to the Telluride Medical Center Foundation.

“Our deepest gratitude goes to these donors who support our staff and the community with their seemingly endless generosity,” Telluride Medical Center Foundation Director Kate Wadley said.

The med center also partnered with Tri-County Health Network this month in relaunching a program to put more fresh food into the kitchens of those facing chronic disease or without reliable access to nutritious food.

FoodRx, a seven-week program originally piloted by Tri-County Health Network at Basin Clinic in Naturita and the Uncompahgre Medical Center in Norwood, provides access to free fruits and vegetables at Clark’s Market in Telluride. Participants receive $120 in vouchers over the course of the program. Participants also receive coaching, recipes and support.

To date, 40 people have participated in the program.

“All of the participants in the FoodRx pilot reported that the program helped them eat more fruits and vegetables and made them feel healthier. The extra money and new recipes make it possible for people to try new foods and indulge in produce they may not normally afford,” according to Rasa Kaunelis, director of strategic initiatives at Tri-County Health Network.

Ryan O’Donnell, a care manager at the med center, is overseeing the program and intends to recruit dozens of participants throughout the year.

“We are looking forward to reintroducing this program to the community. It has been amazing to see the impact it has made on reducing some financial stress, while also providing a fun and engaging program. My favorite part of the program is that each participant sets their own individual goals, which makes it practical and realistic,” he said.

Participants, who are recommended to the program by their primary care provider, will maintain biweekly goals and meet with medical center care managers, like O’Donnell, twice a month to discuss their experiences.

“Tri-County has been a major supporter of this program, providing lots of educational resources, best practices and most impactful are the gift cards that participants can redeem locally for fresh food,” O’Donnell said.

Support for the three-year grant was awarded to Tri-County Health Network by the Heath Resources and Services Administration. Tri-County Health Network will continue offering the FoodRx program to patients at the Basin Clinic and Uncompahgre Medical Center and will look to expand the program to another clinic in 2021.

“I am optimistic that this program will allow us to improve knowledge about how to live a healthier lifestyle through food and exercise in our community. I am hopeful that FoodRx will make cooking interesting and less intimidating. I am excited to see how this program will reshape our local dinner tables,” O’Donnell said.

For more information about the program or to inquire about participation, contact O”Donnell at rodonnell@tellmed.org.