TMH to purchase MRI machine

Department of Local Affairs and bank loan provide $1M in funds

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— When The Memorial Hospital board members sat down to their meeting Wednesday, they were unsure whether they would have anything to report on the possibility of a new Magnetic Resonance Imaging machine.

The purchase of a new machine, which would replace a 10-year-old MRI housed in a separate building at 651 Yampa Ave., was dependent on receiving a $1 million grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs.

At 7 p.m., County Commissioner Tom Gray brought in a single sheet of paper with good news: DOLA granted TMH $405,000 in funding for the new machine.

Because of current economic climate, Chief Financial Officer Woody Hathaway anticipated TMH would be given only a portion of the grant.

Hathaway said he had already visited local banks to inquire about a loan for any remaining funds. He said he was satisfied that the interest rate would be feasible and recommended the board approve the purchase.

"This machine does what we need it to do and is a very good deal," TMH chief executive officer George Rohrich said about the Siemens MRI System. "I would say it adds capability to the hospital."

After the new machine is installed, TMH will be able to end its lease on the Yampa Avenue building, alleviating the cost of rent.

Also, since the old machine is outdated by MRI standards, the new machine will have fewer maintenance costs and be more reliable.

It also features several different coils that will expand capability of scanning different body parts.

"It's the Cadillac," Hathaway said. "It's a fine machine, and I think the physicians will be very pleased with its results."

The location of the machine also will increase its capabilities.

Previously, if an inpatient of TMH had a stroke and required an MRI, he or she would have to be put in an ambulance and transferred to the building and then returned.

"It's just more convenient," Rohrich said. "It will provide better service and quality care."

Dr. Larry Kipe said the old MRI machine has become almost inadequate because it was breaking down regularly.

Also, the new machine will provide better-quality images, allowing physicians to make well-informed diagnoses.

Since MRI machines are built to order, it will be three months before it can be moved into the new hospital, into a room that has been left unfinished in anticipation of building it around a new machine.

"We've been waiting," Rohrich said. "And that room has been waiting for this."

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