This is a brief history of radiology services in Camrose, and how Veritas Imaging came into existence.
For decades, there had only been one radiologist in Camrose, providing services to 3 places: The St. Mary’s hospital X-ray department, the Smith Clinic X-ray department, and the Camrose Mammography Centre.
A partnership of radiologists based in Edmonton (the M.I.C. group) was the first group to send a different radiologist each day, to Camrose. Then a different partnership of radiologists from Edmonton (the Insight Imaging group) provided a different daily radiologist. Then in 2005, Insight Imaging withdrew from Camrose and Dr. Steven Halls came along, giving Camrose its first full-time hospital-based radiologist.
In 2006, radiology in Camrose switched from using real X-ray films, to using digital technology, which displays the images on computer screens instead of film viewboxes. St. Mary’s hospital and Smith Clinic changed to digital, but Camrose Mammography Centre continued to use film until 2013.
Along with the change from film to digital, a CT scanner came into Camrose in 2007, and an expansion of the hospital radiology department took place, creating 3 digital ultrasound rooms at the hospital. Not just new equipment and space, but new services offered by Dr. Halls, made Camrose into a true regional hub for radiology.
A wonderful group of people (our staff) at the St. Mary’s hospital, at Smith Clinic and Camrose Mammography Centre, all working together, has been the real secret of success in Camrose. The good work done by good people has resulted in referrals to Camrose for radiology services, to be growing year after year.
The need for Ultrasound had outgrown the capacity of the hospital, and no further space or funds for expansion was available. So pressure on Dr. Halls to open an ultrasound service at Smith Clinic increased.
But there was a big problem, (which is now solved) but the past history is interesting nonetheless. There was a rule that disallowed tele-ultrasound in a separate location away from the hospital. The rule was that ultrasound had to be done where an in-person radiologist could supervise. Dr. Halls applied to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta (CPSA), to open an Ultrasound clinic in 2007, but it was rejected due to that rule. Then in 2011, there was an non-local group of radiologists from southern Alberta who made an application to the CPSA to open a tele-ultrasound clinic in Camrose, and it was rejected by the same rule.
Dr. Halls also applied again in 2011, but this time with the letters of support from many local doctors, and a plan to supervise it all seamlessly. The CPSA approved it! (And they also changed their rules to lessen the barriers for other small cities like Camrose to do the same.)
The Smith Clinic had empty space available for lease, in the back of their existing X-ray department, AND VERY IMPORTANTLY, they had a Supernet fiber-optic connection to the Alberta Health Services and Netcare, already in operation, which provides the necessary speed for sending gigantic amounts of digital image data, back to Dr. Halls office at the St. Mary’s hospital.
A new company was needed, to keep separate the financial affairs of Smith Clinic from the new Ultrasound service. The name chosen was Veritas Imaging Inc.
Meanwhile, the Camrose Mammography Centre, was facing a problem. It’s old film-and-chemistry method to create mammograms was one of the last non-digital clinics in the province of Alberta, and the old building in the hospital parking lot was overdue for demolition. But Dr. Halls didn’t want to buy expensive new digital mammography equipment until a new permanent home could be found. So the establishment of Veritas Imaging inside the Smith Clinic, provided that home. Camrose Mammography Centre closed, moved, and bought new digital mammography equipment at Veritas Imaging.
Steven Bruce Halls, MD, FRCPC
Steven Halls was born and raised in Edmonton, graduating from Harry Ainley High School in 1978, and University of Alberta Medical School in the class of 1985. After two years of Rotating Internship at all the Edmonton hospitals, Dr. Halls took radiology training in Saskatoon at Royal University Hospital, becoming a specialist in Radiology in 1992. After a fellowship year of extra training in MRI in Memphis Tennessee, then began his first job as a radiologist at the Cross Cancer Institute in Edmonton, from 1993 to 2005.
The experienced gained from 12 years at the Cross Cancer Institute was wonderful for Dr. Halls, who learned, perfected and taught many kinds of procedures. With modest participation in research during those years, Dr. Halls implemented the first breast MRI service, the first breast MRI biopsy capability, the first ultrasound-guided PICC and CVC insertion services in Alberta. Some peer-reviewed research grants were funded during those years, on breast cancer and lymph node staging procedures.
Now working full-time in Camrose, from his office inside the X-ray department at St. Mary’s hospital, Dr. Halls is on-call 24-7. Dr. Halls Curriculum Vitae. Dr Steven Halls can be reached on his cellphone anytime, at 1-780-608-9141.
But we wanted Veritas Imaging to be even more special, and not just for good looks, but for a very important purpose: to make our staff happy. Ultrasound scanning is done by health care workers called sonographers, and there is a shortage of them in Alberta. A big investment in a clinic would go to waste if sonographers didn’t love their job. So we have gone to extremes to make our new clinic as good as we possibly can, in every way, to attract and retain the best sonographers.