by Dave Warner

A new MRI building was brought from a warehouse in Milwaukee all the way to Little Falls on Tuesday afternoon, to be placed behind the hospital in a well-orchestrated project which started Wednesday morning. It was originally designed and set up for a VA Hospital, which then decided that they didn’t want it. So, Little Falls Hospital stepped in, got a deal on it, and bought it.

“The building left on September 13th and took almost a month to get here. They had a lot of flooding out west, then there was a propane truck that flipped over on 81 down by Binghampton, and then a police chase where an officer got shot and it kept getting held up. It’s been pretty much at the Pennsylvania, New York border for two weeks,” said Joe Serrano, Director of Radiology at the Hospital.

Every one of those delays caused a new set of permits to be applied for, and caused even more of a delay.  Plus, there were trucks that trimmed trees along the way and a vehicle that had people in it to lift lines, and they had to be rescheduled each time as well. “Binghampton is a four-hour drive, but it took two days to get here from there,” said Serrano. “That’s how slow this trip has been.”

The MRI Building is made specifically for a new MRI machine, which will be coming next week. This means better image quality for patients who need it. The new room features GE Healthcare’s Caring Suite, which allows patients to customize their MRI experience. With the use of an iPad, they can choose their room lighting colors, music choice and watch videos on a screen.

The new scanner even allows feet-first imaging on all exams and brain imaging. A tilting head coil provides comfort for kyphotic patients and patients with acid reflux or difficulty breathing. All of these things, combined with a wider inside diameter of the scanner, will greatly help to ease anxiety in claustrophobic patients and in children.

Amy Raffle, R. T., Lead MRI Technologist said, “I am very excited about this project coming to fruition after extensive amounts of planning. The limited space in the back corridor of the hospital posed a significant challenge. Extensive time and effort were utilized to determine the vendor that could provide us with the most adequate use of the space and were confident that they could place the building and MRI in a very confined space.”

“It’s quite the project, almost two years in the making,” said Serrano. “The entire project has been patient-centered. We’re cutting our scan times in half. There’s just so much for the patient. It’s one of the main reasons we bought the building.”

“Now we can offer top-notch MRI imaging in a beautiful new space. I have been in the MRI field for 19 years and this is the second MRI installation project I have overseen. It truly feels like Christmas every time and I am beyond excited to share this new gift with our patients,” said Raffle.

The actual MRI equipment is scheduled to be installed in the building next Wednesday, once the final placement is completed and all of the power and other requirements are connected.

“We’re really looking at expanding our business with this addition and our hours. It’s really about a better patient experience,” stated Serrano.