New in-house MRI drops in at MCMH
Montgomery County Memorial Hospital + Clinics will soon be offering in-house MRI scans to area patients.
MCMH + Clinics invited community members for a special peek of the new MRI scanner being lowered through the hospital’s roof at an event on Oct. 17. They served doughnuts, coffee, and the crowd watched as the new MRI scanner was successfully placed.
While MCMH + Clinics has offered MRI scanning with a mobile scanner, MCMH + Clinics director of Imaging Karen Stirek said this is the first time they’ll be able to offer the service in house. Stirek said MCMH + Clinics felt the time was right to purchase a machine.
“We’ve talked about it over the years, and Shared Services, who we have been getting our MRI truck from, have been very accommodating. Also, we had to look at the expenditures, as it’s very expensive to put in an MRI. However, it has become a need for the hospital,” Stirek explained. “We have a lot of MRIs that are scheduled anymore, in part because as doctors exams have changed over the years, and as some modalities have faded away, others have become more popular, and the MRI is one of them. We are so booked out that having our own MRI machine was a necessity to accommodate our patients. Also, it’s not just us that’s booked out, our fellow towns are booked out as well. The mobile MRI is just not as convenient for patients as it once was.”
Once the MRI is in operation, Stirek said they’ll be able to schedule patients for MRI’s every day of the week.
“It will be available Monday through Friday during business hours. We have hired an MRI tech, and we have three in-house employees that will go over and cross train in the MRI. Our plans are to run the MRI for 40 hours per week,” commented Stirek.
Stirek is hopeful that once the MRI is fully operational and accepting patients, they’ll be pleased with the reduced wait times.
“While we haven’t been able to gauge the excitement level over the announcement of our new in-house MRI from patients yet, I have heard their lack of enthusiasm when we can’t book them right away. The doctor’s offices I’ve heard from are very excited because they know how hard it is to get patients in and get them scheduled, not just here, but anywhere. The ability to have that for their patients is really going to make a big difference I think,” stated Stirek.
Stirek said the MRI machine selected by the hospital was chosen with patient care and comfort in mind.
“It’s a Canon Orion 1.5 Tesla, which is a very wide bore, in fact it’s the largest bore available. It’s very quiet. A lot of the MRI machines can acoustically be very loud, and this is the quietest one on the market. It also has very good image quality, and it’s also very quick. It’s cut down on the exam time that the patient has to lay on the table,” said Stirek. “There’s still a lot that goes into what we do besides the actual scanning of the patient, but the exam time itself will be sped up. I think anyone who receives an MRI on the new machine will find it more enjoyable.”
When she witnessed the new MRI machine being lowered to its new place in the hospital, Stirek said she felt excitement, as well as relief.
“This has been a year-long planning process. We’ve been checking out a lot of different units, and a lot has happened behind the scenes to get us to this moment. I’m super excited. I’ve really wanted us to have an in-house MRI for years. It’s the wave of the future, and we needed to move that direction. I’m also relieved, because we knew it wasn’t going to go in if everything wasn’t perfect, and it is,” advised Stirek.
MCMH Director of director of support services Peter Wemhoff stated he is also extremely excited to have an MRI machine in-house.
“This is going to be a great service for the people of our area. “It’s taken a lot of meetings and a lot of work, by many people,” stated Wemhoff. “We’re here to serve our patients, and what a great service for our area. We will be able to do more exams with an in-house MRI than we could on the mobile MRI truck.”
Stirek said she is also pleased that MCMH + Clinics is currently the only facility in the county with dedicated MRI services.
“We are really proud of our new MRI,” stated Stirek. “It is the largest, quietest and newest in the area. We know it will make a difference for our patients who will no longer have to travel out of the county. We’ve purchased several very specialized coils also, including breast, and several orthopedic coils that will allow us to perform for specialized MRI’s that we weren’t able to complete before. This is an impressive piece of medical technology, and we are excited for our patients to benefit from it.”
Even though the machine is in place, it will still be some time before it’s up and running ready for patients. Stirek said they also need to set up all of the computer hardware and software.
“The MRI gets the data that is broken down and sent into a computer. The data is then used to make the actual image. Those have to be set-up, as well as the interfaces between us and Grand Island, Nebraska, which is where our radiologists are. We also have to integrate our picture archiving and communication system, or PACS, which stores the digital imaging for us so we can send it to other places and have it on file. We have a lot of IT work to do over the next month or so,” Stirek explained.
Once all the hardware and software is ready, Stirek said they will have representatives onsite to make sure everything is working correctly.
“Canon will do a walkthrough to make sure everything interfaces and works well together. Then we have to upload all of our protocols, which will tell the machine what to do. We’ll then accept applications, and for two weeks, they’ll do all the training of the MRI techs to operate the equipment,” Stirek commented. “While we’ll be on our own at that point, we can always call Canon. They’ve been very generous, and will always come back and show us something, or pick up the phone to answer a question. Normally, the training would take place in California, but since we have three staff in-house that want to learn, I suggested the training be done here on our piece of equipment.”
Wemhoff estimated the MRI will be ready for patients at the beginning of December. He also praised everyone who has worked hard to make the dream of having in-house MRI services a reality.
“The teamwork has been just outstanding between everyone, from the vendor, to the builders, the architects, and the staff. It’s been great.” Wemhoff commented.
To learn more about the new MRI Scanner, keep an eye on the MCMH + Clinics website at mcmh.org or call the Community Relations Department at 623-6491.