This was the moment Stacie Rosenthal had waited for her entire career.
The Memorial Hospital radiology manager stood in the doorway to one of the rooms at the new hospital facility, watching as a work crew installed a $1 million piece of equipment: A new magnetic resonance imaging machine, or MRI, that will be the cornerstone of medical technology in Moffat County.
“I’m so thankful for it,” she said as she watched the giant tube and its surrounding systems take shape. “It was built with rural health care in mind. It’s built for a place without a big bank account. It’s very rare for a hospital to own its own MRI, so we’re really lucky.”
The machine will take about a week to install, as a portion of the room’s wall needed to be removed to fit the MRI into its permanent home.
Rosenthal said she expects the machine to be running by about Dec. 16.
MRIs, which are essentially large magnets, are primarily used to create high contrast images of muscular-skeletal or neurological body parts.
Rosenthal said MRI scans are always more useful than CT scans when it comes to detecting strokes and orthopedic issues, such as knee ligament tears.
Up until the new hospital was built, an old MRI was located in the TMH MRI Center at 651 Yampa Ave.
Both the building and the machine were leased, and Rosenthal said the machine was broken down as often as it was operational.
The new machine is located in the hospital so patients won’t have to be transported somewhere else to receive the services they need, Rosenthal added.
The new machine also has built in coils, which allows it to scan several different body parts in one session.
Rosenthal said comfort was also an issue with the old machine.
She said the machine was loud and scans took a long time, which made many patients claustrophobic.
The new machine has a larger tube, which she said will make the experience better.
For patients who are still too claustrophobic to stay awake through the procedure, the room will be outfitted with equipment to anesthetize some patients.
“First, we can recapture those patients that have gone elsewhere for these services,” Rosenthal said. “We can offer more services here. Before, we had to send patients to Steamboat because we couldn’t help them here.”
The total cost of the machine was $997,000, of which $405,000 was financed by a grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs.
The rest will be paid off over 5 years with payments of $11,300 per month.
The price of services will not be affected.
For Rosenthal, it’s worth every penny.
She sees it as a gift to the county residents that own and pay taxes to support the hospital.
“These people pay taxes,” she said. “It’s their money And we’re just offering them services they already should have. This is their magnet.”