Hospital adding new MRI

By William P. Thompson

Patient care at Roosevelt General Hospital will get a boost in the near future as the hospital district’s board recently approved setting aside $1.1 million in grant and loan money toward the purchase of a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machine and a Computerized Tomography(CT) machine.

The hospital’s administrator, James D’Agostino, said the new CT should be on board within a “couple of weeks” and the MRI will be purchased sometime in the next three months. He said the money was obtained by the Roosevelt County Rural Telephone Co-op through the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He said the hospital’s current CT machine is five years old and the hospital has access to an MRI machine just once a week.

The new MRI, at a projected cost of about $1.1 million would be housed in a modular building purchased with the grant money and would be available to doctors 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“The MRI does not produce x-rays,” D’Agostino said. “It enhances the soft tissue in the body, which allows us to look for things like blood flowing in arteries or a tumor in the brain.”

Hospital staff member Dr. Leslie Donaldson said the new MRI would produce better images than the MRI the hospital currently uses. He said it will give doctors the ability to more accurately diagnose conditions.

“The MRI will make it easier for a radiologist or a surgeon to make out what’s what,” Donaldson said. “If you have the proper diagnosis, then you can give proper treatment. The MRI is the definitive test for strokes, ruptured discs and problems with joints.”

D’Agostino said the CT machine is primarily used for diagnosing bone and skeletal problems. He said it will likely cost “somewhere in the neighborhood” of $650,000.

“The machine will take 12 images per second,” he said. “On the 13th frame the machine is already putting the previous images on x-ray film. We can directly transmit the images to the radiologist for immediate interpretation.”

Donaldson said once the machines are chosen, active medical staff, a group of radiologists from Amarillo and the Roosevelt County hospital district board will enter into a three-way lease-to-purchase agreement with the machines’ manufacturers.

Donaldson said the new MRI and CT will be equipment that can be upgraded as technology improves.