For more than 30 years, when a Mankato Clinic patient needed an ultrasound done, they mostly were sent to LCM, a small lab just off Madison Avenue in Mankato.
LCM is just few minutes by car from the clinic, and thousands of mothers around the region got their first glimpse of their children through the careful work of an LCM sonographer.
But over the course of the last few years, LCM and the Mankato Clinic have come to an understanding that LCM would be phasing out its ultrasound work. At the same time, the clinic made plans to ramp up its ultrasound capabilities.
The result is that the clinic now has one of the most technologically advanced ultrasound setups in the state.
The clinic has spent roughly $1 million on ultrasound equipment and added more rooms, meaning they can accommodate more patients in the imaging department.
The upgrades signal a new era for the clinic. But they’re quick to remind how well their relationship with LCM worked for so many years.
“We owe a huge debt of gratitude to LCM,” Mankato Clinic gynecologist Mark Taylor said. “They saw a need and said they’d take it upon themselves to learn it.”
Having said that, Taylor said there are times when they need to have high-quality diagnostic imaging done immediately. For that reason, he said, it will be nice to have state-of-the art technology on site. Plus, he said, it’s simply much more convenient for patients this way.
“It will be nice to have it done in the same building,” he said. “Patients have to dance around us a lot, and occasionally they have to wait. If we can minimize that, that’s huge.”
Jana Hanson, the clinic’s diagnostic imaging systems and ultrasound manager, said the clinic does roughly 700 ultrasounds each month, and pulls clients in from southern Minnesota as well as Iowa and South Dakota. Once LCM discontinues doing ultrasounds completely, Hanson said she expects that number to jump to about 1,000.
All ultrasounds are read by a radiologist. Hanson says the clinic guarantees to have all ultrasounds read within 24 hours, but almost all are read within an hour.
That kind of turnaround can mean a lot to a young mother, like Sarah Bouldin.
If Bouldin needs to bring her kids along with her to an OB appointment that will include an ultrasound, any parent knows that having to make an extra stop can sometimes be a hassle.
Plus, Bouldin says, the clinic’s new ultrasound setup shows they’re making patient comfort a priority.
“The lighting, the atmosphere,” she said. “It’s definitely nice.”
Another plus: Right inside the ultrasound rooms, just a few feet away from the chair where the exam is done, is a bathroom. (Guys: Women in the earlier trimesters of pregnancy must have a very full bladder for an effective ultrasound.)