SANTA ROSA BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — Doctors are calling the latest CT scanner on the panhandle a total game changer for medicine. 

Ascension Sacred Heart Emerald Coast got the new Siemens CT machine in March 2023.

The machine is capable of taking full scans in real time with quality imaging. The scanner fits any size adult as well as children. 

Beyond the typical scan showing a deeper level than X-rays, the new machine can look at someone’s active heart.  

“This machine is able to touch your heart in motion. So we have the ability to look at your heart arteries and rule out any blockages or preventative cardiology and looking at any plaque that’s built up over time that before people have symptoms that can predict if you’re going to have a cardiac event,” said Lauren Stipp, cardiologist.

This means those with chest pain do not have to wait for a stress test or multiple days before getting answers and preventing heart attacks. 

“Typically when a patient comes in with chest pain, we check blood markers, we check EKGs, we kind of have to wait to see if anything is evolving with the heart. Typically, patients stay overnight and get a stress test. If that stress test is abnormal, then they have to go in and get a cardiac cath where they go through the wrist or the groin and we look at the arteries of the heart with contrast. What this machine does is you come in with chest pain and we take you right to the CT scanner and we look directly at your heart artery,” said Stipp.

Between Escambia County to Port Saint Joe, Ascension Sacred Heart in Santa Rosa Beach is the only hospital on the Panhandle with the new CT machine.  

“There’s been so many lives saved when patients come in with chest pain because we know exactly what we’re looking at in terms of the clinic. Every cardiologist in Ascension Network has been screening their patients to see if they’ve been laying down plaque, how aggressive we should be with their cholesterol, family history, and people who smoke. They actually see their plaque and know that, hey, this is a good time to quit,” said Stipp. 

The Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation gave $200,000 to the hospital to help fund the scanner.