BENNINGTON - A generous gift from a Dorset couple means that physicians in Southwestern Vermont Medical Center's (SVMC's) Emergency Department have access to the latest in ultrasound technology for use at the patient bedside. David Meiselman and Myra Packman, attorneys who live in Dorset, donated a new Phillips Sparq, a portable ultrasound machine specifically designed for rapid diagnosis and treatment in the high-pressure setting of a hospital emergency room.

"Bedside ultrasound is a critical tool for a busy emergency department," explained Dr. Adam Cohen, medical director of SVMC's emergency department. "It's extremely useful in evaluating trauma patients and making procedures safer and more comfortable. For example, when faced with a difficult IV, we can use the ultrasound to image the vein, which helps us successfully insert the IV."

Most ultrasound machines are designed to be used by highly trained ultrasound technicians. As a result, these machines have complicated settings that allow technicians to fine-tune an image for the perfect picture. In an emergency, too many options can hinder a rapid evaluation. The Sparq's touch-screen interface has a special setting that presents users with only the most important ultrasound options. Using this setting, physicians are ready to scan in less than 30 seconds. Users also can access the full list of options for more complex imaging when needed.

"Myra and I feel honored to be able to give to SVMC," said Meiselman. "Too often, people don't appreciate our community hospitals until they save our lives or the lives of our friends and family. When we found out that the SVMC ER needed a new ultrasound, Myra and I knew that this was something we wanted to do."

"SVMC is grateful to have the support of Mr. Meiselman and Ms. Packman," said Carolanne Marquis, executive director of the SVHC Foundation. "Their ongoing support for emergency services helps ensure that our communities have access to the latest emergency medical technology."

The Emergency Department at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center sees more than 24,000 patients each year. It was one of the first area hospitals to add beside ultrasound in 2004. Dr. Cohen added that his department uses the ultrasound daily.

Meiselman said that making a difference in people's lives is what motivates his giving.

"Myra and I believe that giving is good for your head and your heart," he said. "We know that SVMC carefully spends these donations for the benefit of patients. Knowing that equipment we donated saves lives is all the thanks we could ever expect. We hope that others will give what they can to feel the pleasure of being part of this wonderful hospital and the community it serves so remarkably well."