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St. Clare portable x-ray machine

St. Clare Hospital radiologic technologists Kim Arnold, left, and Damara Merrell show off the health care center's new digital radiographic portable X-ray machine that’s decked out with decals to make it look like a giraffe.

JAKE PRINSEN/News Republic

If a giraffe is spotted meandering through the hallways of St. Clare Hospital, it’s no reason for alarm.

The Baraboo health care center recently purchased a digital radiographic portable X-ray machine that’s decked out with decals to make it look like a circus animal. Hospital staff members say the new technology produces better images and is easier to move than its old machines, and the circus theme brings a smile to patients’ faces.

“We used to have to bring all of the patients from the emergency room back here and take the X-rays,” said Carey Smith, SSM Health Wisconsin Northern Region medical imaging director. “Now what’s happening is we are able to bring this to them.”

Mobile X-ray units like St. Clare’s giraffe are used for radiographic imaging of patients who cannot be moved to the radiology department and who are in areas such as intensive and critical care units, or operating and emergency rooms that lack standard, fixed radiographic equipment. Medical applications can include general radiography and orthopedic, pediatric, skeletal and abdominal imaging.

St. Clare Hospital radiologic technologist Kim Arnold said the X-ray machine also limits the amount of radiation patients are exposed to during examinations.

“The image quality is far better than what we’ve had,” she said. “It really decreases our time doing an exam, which limits the discomfort that we cause for patients, especially people with fractures.”

Hospital staff was given the option to put special stickers on the X-ray machine. Given that St. Clare Hospital was created with a gift from Adele Ringling, an heir to the Ringling Bros. Circus, Smith and other staff members decided the giraffe unit was a reflection of the hospital’s history.

“We’re a circus city,” Smith said. “This unit is a way to share our hospital’s heritage because we started in a home gifted by a circus family, but it also brings a big smile to our patients as it trundles into their room.”

Both Smith and Arnold said the new technology is often a positive image for patients in scary situations. They added that the hospital will hold a contest to name the giraffe in the coming weeks.

“You bring something like this into the room and when you start setting it up it brings a smile to their face,” Smith said. “We all know that health care is scary, and whatever we can do to try and get people comfortable is just really important.”

Follow Jake Prinsen on Twitter @prinsenjake

Baraboo News Republic Reporter