College receives donation for new X-ray machine

The injured animals cared for by students at Lees-McRae won’t have to travel very far for their X-rays now. The local High Country Charitable Foundation donated $53,000 for a radiograph machine as part of the expansion at the May Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. The funds provided will cover additional costs as well as lead aprons, gloves, and monitoring equipment.

Members of the foundation, including Founder and Chairman Jim Ward and Board Member Del Williamson, presented a check to the college during a small gathering on Sept. 12. The event was attended by President Lee King, assistant professor and veterinarian Dr. Amber McNamara, supporters of the center, and a number of other administrative and academic leaders.

“The addition of a new radiograph machine and expansion of the wildlife hospital will be transformative for both students and the wildlife patients for which we provide care,” McNamara said. “Students will have opportunities to learn a whole new skill set, including radiation safety, how to capture diagnostic images, and how to begin to interpret them in the context of wildlife medicine.”

Once expansion for the new wildlife hospital is complete, McNamara and the rest of the May Wildlife Rehabilitation Center team will proceed with ordering the radiograph. After installation, “we’ll have to continue with multiple steps of approval from the state radiation board,” McNamara explained.

All said and done, the new equipment will save not only time, but lives.

Currently, animals that need an X-ray are transported to Appalachian New River Veterinary Associates in nearby Boone, and though it has worked thus far, “it is still a stressor for the patient and takes at least an hour of time for a staff member to drive them there and back,” McNamara said.

So in May 2018, McNamara submitted a grant proposal to the High Country Charitable Foundation.

"The vision of the High Country Charitable Foundation is to provide assistance to organizations and individuals throughout Avery country based upon their needs that cannot be fulfilled otherwise,” Williamson said. “The Foundation operates with zero overhead so all donated funds go directly to the beneficiaries. Lees-McRae is the focal point of Banner Elk and the May Wildlife Center is a major draw for students from around the country. The new X-ray equipment will help in earlier analysis of animal injuries and will also provide much more in-depth learning on the part of the students as they prepare for their future professions."

By Nina MastandreaSeptember 19, 2018