Joy as CT scanner ordered

The much-anticipated, hard-fought-for CT scanner for Dunstan Hospital in Clyde has been ordered, leaving proponents elated and relieved.

With a $1 million grant from the Central Lakes Trust covering the entire cost of the machine, an order was placed this week, said Ainsley Webb, chairwoman of Central Otago Health Inc, the hospital's governing body.

''It's a feeling of elation and relief ... that we have got the scanner for Central Otago and that it has been ordered, payment has been made and that it is all really happening.''

Russell McGeorge, chairman of Central Otago Health Services Ltd, which runs the hospital, was also relieved but said there was still much work to be done.

''It's a pretty big milestone. It's the end of one long road ... It's all go for this project now because we have made the commitment.''

The machine was due to be delivered in March and would be operational by April but, before that could happen, the ''CT suite'' would need to be built, he said.

Mrs Webb said a hospital room would need to be modified to include lead-lined walls, which was expected to cost $250,000.

Charity group Friends of Dunstan Hospital had agreed to underwrite $150,000 but the rest would come from community fundraising.

Mr McGeorge said local Lions and Rotary groups had banded together to fundraise and hopefully cover the rest of the cost.

Their efforts would see simultaneous garage sales in Alexandra, Cromwell, Roxburgh and Wanaka on February 16.

He was confident the money could be raised, he said.

''The community support has been wonderful, so I'm not too concerned about fundraising. The Central Otago community always steps up.''

Mrs Webb said they started lobbying for a scanner about four years ago ''but the argument has intensified over the last year''.

After some debate about the best location for a scanner to serve the wider Central Otago and Queenstown Lakes district, the Southern District Health Board decided in June to install two scanners - one at Dunstan and one at Lakes District Hospital in Frankton.

Mrs Webb said the Lakes district scanner was probably another two years away.

The DHB had also agreed to cover the operational costs of the machine for patients requiring scans, under the public health system, she said. Though the machine would be operational from April, a formal opening for it was intended when the hospital celebrated its 150th anniversary in August.