News Column

DMH reveals new isotope business

August 16, 2014

By Emily Steele, Herald & Review, Decatur, Ill.



Aug. 16--DECATUR -- In a move that plants advanced imaging technology in the heart of Macon County, Decatur Memorial Hospital announced its new nucleus isotope business Friday.

President and CEO Ken Smithmier met with U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., and U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, to tour DMH and discuss the move.

"It's some of the most exciting stuff going on in health care today, so we're very unique as a community hospital to be in the middle of it," Smithmier said.

The business, Zevacor Molecular, manufactures and distributes special isotopes used to diagnose cancers and cardiac disorders.

"This isotope you would make would help in heart scans," Kirk said, referring to being able to identify blockages.

Using isotopes reduces the cost of a diagnosis from a $3,000 heart catheter to about $1,500.

DMH has been using its cyclotron to create nuclear isotopes to test for cardiac disorders and cancers more accurately. Using the isotopes a positron emission tomography, or PET, scan shows detailed images much better at revealing organ abnormalities.

"PET is really the standard of care in cancer treatment now," Smithmier said.

DMH is now awaiting approval from U.S. Food and Drug Administration for a specialized prostate cancer isotope. The Mayo Clinic is the only other facility able to offer this specific treatment.

With contacts in Russia, Italy and Turkey, Smithmier said the company has become an international business.

"The ability to have our representatives speak with us and give us advice on these things is very, very important very valuable," Smithmier said.

Later in the day, Davis visited the Community Health Improvement Center where he was welcomed by its board of directors and Executive Director Tanya Andricks. CHIC invited Davis to tour the federally funded center during National Health Center Week.

"We are using those federal dollars and get a dollar and a half out of them," Andricks said.

They discussed CHIC's clinic in the DMH emergency room, which opened this spring to offer patients a lower cost alternative for basic and preventative care.

Over the past several years, CHIC has increased its primary care providers from three doctors to eight, increased the number of monthly patient visits and in July added prenatal care to its list of services.

esteele@herald-review.com|(217) 421-6968

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(c)2014 the Herald & Review (Decatur, Ill.)

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Source: Herald & Review (Decatur, IL)


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