Nfld. & Labrador

Nain gets X-ray machine after teen dies of TB

It wasn't easy to get the portable machine into the remote community, says a health official, and the scans have to be sent elsewhere to be read.

14-year-old boy from the Labrador community died of tuberculosis in March

A chest x-ray shows pulmonary tuberculosis in this file photo. Such x-rays can now be taken in Nain, via a portable machine that has been brought into the community. (Puwadol Jaturawutthichai/Shutterstock)

An X-ray machine is up and running in Nain, after a 14-year-old boy from the community died of tuberculosis in March.

The portable machine was brought into the community and has been running since April 6, with 65 scans done so far, said Antionette Cabot, a director with Labrador-Grenfell Health.

Before the machine was brought in to the community, patients in need of a chest X-ray had to travel to Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

"We had patients who were leaving their homes, leaving their families, coming into Goose Bay, getting their X-rays done — which would be dependent on the weather, if they get back or not," Cabot, who oversees the health authority's TB programs, told the Labrador Morning Show Thursday.

"So this is wonderful, to be able to provide the services actually in the community where the patients need them, keep them at home."

Gussie Bennett, 14 and from Nain, died of tuberculosis in St. John's in March. (Submitted by Katie Suarak)

Getting the machine into the small community on Labrador's north coast was something of an undertaking, Cabot said.

"It was a little bit on the challenging side for sure, and took a lot of collaboration and partners actually across the country, let alone the province," she said.

Patients who need the X-ray are identified through clinical screening, and their doctor will fill out a requisition for the scan, she said. The clinic in Nain contacts those patients about their appointment time.

The Nunatsiavut government has hired a driver to bring patients to and from the clinic as needed.

Slow internet means night work

The X-rays are taken in Nain, then sent electronically to Happy Valley-Goose Bay, where they are forwarded to Eastern Health for review by a radiologist. 

Because of the challenges with internet service along the north coast, the technologist is coming in in the evenings, when the connection is less busy, to send the images when needed, Cabot said.

"It can be a little bit challenging at times, but I must say we're doing fairly well with it," she said.

Before the X-ray machine was sent to Nain, people had to travel to Happy Valley-Goose Bay to be screened. (CBC)

After this initial round of screening, broader screenings will be conducted as more patients requiring an X-ray to check for tuberculosis are identified. 

A decision about whether the machine should stay in the region permanently has not been made, Cabot said.

There are still some potential TB cases under investigation in the region, she said, but only the one case of the 14-year-old boy has been confirmed so far.