St. Johnís OKs $2.2M for new MRI machine
By Benjamin Graham, Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Date: February 4, 2013
A new machine to look inside people could be operating at St. John’s Medical Center this summer.
The hospital’s board of trustees unanimously voted Thursday to allot $2.2 million to buy a top-of-the-line magnetic resonance imaging machine.
The new model, a Siemens Magnetom Aera, will produce higher-quality images and be more comfortable for patients, hospital staff said at the board meeting.
“We’re going to have the best technology around, period,” said Dr. Richard Ofstein, a radiologist at the hospital. “There will be absolutely no reason to go anywhere else for an MRI.”
The machine has a “wide-bore system,” meaning the hole through which a patient slides during a scan is 30 centimeters larger than St. John’s old machine. The examination of patients will be less likely to induce claustrophobia, hospital staff said.
Installation will include a set of panels on the ceiling covered in high-definition images of the outdoors, perhaps distracting patients a bit from any discomfort with their situation, they said.
“We want to purchase the next generation, not the same generation,” Chief Executive Lou Hochheiser said.
The cost for diagnostic scans won’t increase, he said.
The hospital will buy the machine in payments over five years, Chief Financial Officer John Kren said.
“It is the best picture right now in the industry,” Kren said Friday. “You can diagnose orthopedics, as well as head and spine injuries, much more accurately.”
The old machine, which St. John’s has used since 2003, cost about $1.25 million to purchase and another $500,000 to install, he said.
It was owned and operated for years as a joint venture between the hospital and Teton MRI. St. John’s bought out the group in 2011. The hospital will be the sole owner of the new MRI machine.