HOSPITAL INSTALLS GENTLER MRI

September 15, 2001 12:00 am
THE LATEST: Steve McLaughlin, Grande Ronde Hospital's lead technician, displays the hospital's new $1.3 million MRI. (The Observer/ALICE PERRY LINKER).
THE LATEST: Steve McLaughlin, Grande Ronde Hospital's lead technician, displays the hospital's new $1.3 million MRI. (The Observer/ALICE PERRY LINKER).

By The Observer

The magnet weighs 8,000 pounds, but the machine that surrounds it is designed for gentle treatment.

New magnetic resonance imaging technology will go into use at Grande Ronde Hospital Monday, and lead technician Steve McLaughlin predicts that patients will find MRI exams easier than in the past.

Moving the MRI into its specially designed room in the hospital basement proved a challenge for hospital employees. One wall separating the room from the hall was removed, as were several doors, said Kathy Weber, hospital spokeswoman.

The new machine replaces a nine-year-old MRI that fell behind in technology, McLaughlin told the hospital board during a tour earlier this week.

Thereve been incredible advances in MRI technology, he said.

The new machine is wider and the core where the patient lies is shorter, he said. The more powerful magnet means more efficient imaging, although the exam usually takes between 15 and 30 minutes.

Patients can improve the experience of lying within a tube through a sound system that pipes in music through earphones that reduce the annoying sound of the machine.

The $1.3 million MRI is the latest in improved technology at the hospital. A radiographic-fluoroscope installed last year has improved the quality of X-Rays and other examinations, said Troy Juniper, radiology manager.

Primarily, the new equipment means less radiation for each patient, and a larger image-maker reduces the number of pictures needed, Juniper said.

Both digital and film are used now, but Juniper said that the hospital is looking at studying the feasibility of going filmless.

The cost of archiving (storing records) is high now, but those costs are going down, he said.