Star Valley Medical Center is now one of only three or four hospitals west of the Mississippi to have a new Hitachi state-of-the-art MRI machine. The Echelon Oval MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), said Mike Hunsaker, vice president of support services for Star Valley Medical Center, will be operational Jan. 14 – meaning valley residents will have “the latest and greatest MRI technology.”
“That’s a neat thing to offer the people here in Star Valley,” Hunsaker told the Star Valley Independent, adding that the new MRI will be available 24/7. A big change, he continued, from sending patients to Idaho Falls, Jackson, or as far away as Salt Lake City for MRIs, or scheduling them when a mobile MRI truck comes to town.
“One of our missions is to provide health care right here at home,” Hunsaker said. “This has been in the planning stages for about six months. Over the last several years, we’ve had a mobile MRI truck come to provide services. We’ve increased that up to four days a week. It got to the point that [it made] sense to have one inside the hospital.”
While investigating vendors, Hitachi came up with an offer mutually beneficial. The vendor, which has about 15 units of the Echelon Oval MRI in the United States, hoped to market this particular machine to hospitals similar to the size of Star Valley Medical. So, Hunsaker explained, “they asked us to consider being what’s called a ‘show site.’ They bring people from all over the U.S. to watch our MRI in action. That’s the reason that it’s good for Star Valley Medical Center. Hitachi will keep our unit on the latest software and latest upgrades.”
Hunsaker described Dec. 17 as a day of “pure excitement” when a crane lifted the 12,000-pound machine from a truck to the doors of the radiology department. With the help of a rigging company from California and local contractors, such as Echo Electric, Diamond V Heating and R&T Construction, the machine was placed on little carts. Then with hospital administrators and radiology staff lending a hand, “We pushed it in by hand. It was an electric atmosphere. We were taking videos like crazy. It was a lot of fun.”
The Echelon Oval MRI offers “the best image you can get anywhere in the United States…. It’s a great value for the cost,” Hunsaker explained, adding that it will provide services to orthopedic surgeons, general surgeons, and even chiropractors in the area, to name a few.
According to WebMD, an MRI “is a test that uses a magnetic field and pulses of radio wave energy to make pictures of organs and structures inside the body.”
Hunsaker related that Hitachi technicians and engineers are currently loading the software on the new MRI at Star Valley Medical. “We intend to be doing studies for patients on the 14th.”
MRI Open House
Star Valley Medical Center will host an open house for the public to tour the new MRI facilities on Friday, Jan. 10, from 8 a.m. to 12 noon and from 4 to 8 p.m., and again on Saturday, Jan. 11, from 8 a.m. to 12 noon.