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Home arrow COMMUNITY arrow Health & Fitness arrow Getting a clearer picture


Getting a clearer picture

Troy Juniper, Grande Ronde Hospital imaging services manager, shows off one of two remodeled ultrasound suites at GRH. (PHIL BULLOCK/The Observer)
Troy Juniper, Grande Ronde Hospital imaging services manager, shows off one of two remodeled ultrasound suites at GRH. (PHIL BULLOCK/The Observer)

New MRI and ultrasound suites at Grande Ronde Hospital

The imaging services department at Grande Ronde Hospital has expanded with two remodeled ultrasound suites and a newly installed 

$2 million magnetic resonance imaging scanner. 

After 13 years of use, the old MRI scanner was replaced by a new Siemens Magnetom Skyra 3T MRI scanner.

“It’s identical to the one recently purchased by St. Luke’s Meridian, said Jim Mattes, president and CEO of Grande Ronde Hospital. “It makes Grande Ronde Hospital’s imaging services comparable to those offered at Mayo Clinic.”

The Magnetom Skyra MRI is a top-of-the-line system with a magnet weighing 16,000 pounds. Getting it into the basement of the hospital took some resourceful engineering. 

“We had help from Mountain West Moving and Storage and two forklifts that had to be tilted to get them in position,” said Troy Juniper, the hospital’s imaging services manager.

Juniper has been with the imaging services department for 27 years and can attest to the progress the hospital has made in this field of health care.

“When I first started here, CAT scan equipment was new to the hospital. We’ve come a very long way since the 1980s,” he said. “This MRI is multiple times stronger than the former system we had. Tests are a little faster than the older MRI because the technician doesn’t have to change coils when doing multiple exams.”

The Magnetom Skyra is also more comfortable physically for patients. The scanner is 10 centimeters larger than previous models so that patients with spatial anxieties may also have an emotionally comfortable experience. If needed, though, a patient may, through his ordering clinician, receive a mild sedative to ease any anticipatory anxieties.

Having been up and running for three months with four trained technicians, the imaging services department is a busy place. 

“In 1987, the imaging services department used to do 40 ultrasound scans a month. Now we perform close to 500 scans each month,” Juniper said. “The radiologists are really happy with the imaging quality of the new MRI system, and our new orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Ben Olson, told me it produces image quality of the highest levels.” 

The imaging services department will continue to be a highly utilized service for stroke patients and other vascular conditions. Eventually, the MRI services will expand into additional areas of the body, Mattes said. 

At present, 70 percent of the patients served by the ultrasound department are women, primarily due to the nature of their physiology. Juniper said that so far patients have been very pleased with their experience and are grateful they don’t have to travel outside the region for this quality of diagnostic services. 

New ultrasound suites

In past years, the hospital had two ultrasound suites with one having a very small bathroom. Today, there are two additional larger ultrasound suites with bathrooms meeting Americans with Disability Act building codes. A centralized disinfecting room adjoins the two suites.

“With electronic medical records, we no longer needed our X-ray storage room because X-rays are now stored (and retrieved) electronically, so the storage room was reallocated to become new ultrasound suites,” Mattes said.

The construction costs of the two ultrasound suites totaled almost $300,000. Special care was taken to remove asbestos from the old storage room. Once the rooms were finished, the hospital moved all its ultrasound equipment back into the rooms.

Over the years, Grande Ronde Hospital has standardized all its ultrasound equipment by purchasing through one medical equipment company, Philips Ultrasound. Hospital management believes it is the best ultrasound equipment available, and Philips offers helpful in-house service and various discounts to the hospital. Juniper said that having standardized equipment in the suites makes personnel training much easier. 

The new ultrasound suites are equipped with an overhead boom so that a reclining patient is able to see the images easily. This also benefits the stenographers so they aren’t breaking down due to poor ergonomics.

The ultrasound suites have a pictorial archive communication system or PACS workstation where radiologists can check and compare the imaging and report archives for any given patient. 

Some of the costs of the ultrasound suites were paid by financial contributions through the Grande Ronde Hospital Foundation from community donors and fund-raising events like the annual golf tournament.

“We raised $23,000 from our golf tournament and contributed that toward the finishing touches on the ultrasound suites,” said foundation manager Will Simons. “This exceeded our expectations. The golf tournament was our 19th one and the most successful in recent years.”


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