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Medical equipment may be 2010 legacy

Games health care include clinics, field hospitals, disaster planning

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By Clare Ogilvie

Whistler could be in line for some major medical legacies thanks to the 2010 Winter Olympic Games Medical Services plan.

“We are certainly trying to leave as much as possible,” said Dr. Jack Taunton, chief medical officer for the 2010 Games.

Currently there are plans for Olympic sponsor GE to bring in equipment to perform MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging ) and CAT (Computerized Axial Tomography) scans. It’s likely other sponsors will be involved too.

In Torino, Kodak left behind imaging equipment used for dental and health care at all three of the 2006 Games’ polyclinics.

And the legacy is not just related to triage equipment. The athletes’ village, in the Lower Cheakamus area, will house a fully equipped cool down centre with ice baths, whirlpool baths and so on. It is hoped that much of that will be left behind as well as part of the new athletes’ centre. After the Games the centre will provide affordable accommodation for visiting teams as well as training space and rehabilitation space.

“It could be quite a legacy,” said Taunton, adding that searching for these opportunities is a driving force.

He is also hoping there will be further discussions around putting a rehabilitation centre close to the Whistler Health Care Centre.

“Right now (the WHC Centre) is a diagnostic centre but they don’t treat musculoskeletal injury,” said Taunton. “So we would like to, as a legacy… on a pod adjacent to the Whistler Health Care Centre (have) a building that will be a rehab centre for Whistler, so the athletes could have diagnostic tests done there, be seen by physicians there, and then undergo rehabilitation there.”

The MRI and CAT scan equipment will be set up in the polyclinic at the athlete’s village site.

It is hoped that by bringing in the equipment it will both speed up medical help and reduce the impact of the 2010 Winter Games on B.C.’s already stretched health care system.

“We don’t want to be bumping (patients) or jumping queues,” said Taunton. “The public is obviously concerned about that so we want to be self sufficient. That means we have to use our Olympic sponsors, our own budget ($21.8 million) and our own ingenuity as to how we can become as self sufficient as possible.”

The polyclinic will offer the services of just about every type of physician and surgeon you can imagine, as well as a host of therapists. The same level of care will be offered in a polyclinic at the Vancouver Athletes’ Village.

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