Imagine you’ve been in a car accident, and you’re in the emergency room of Lodi Memorial Hospital. The ER nurses and doctors have stitched up your cuts and treated your bruises. You’re in for a few days of monitoring.
Early X-rays showed no signs of breaks, but there’s still major pain in your spine and neck from the trauma and painkillers won’t touch it. Doctors recommend an MRI scan to check for trauma to the spinal cord or vertebrae and discs.
While other tests call for a nurse to wheel you to another floor of the hospital, getting an MRI scan is much more involved.
At Lodi Memorial Hospital, admitted patients or those in the ER must wait for an ambulance to arrive before being loaded up and transported a few hundred yards to Delta Radiology’s Advanced Imaging office across the parking lot.
“Patients in our care need EMTs with them at all times during transport outside the hospital,” said Carol Farron, Lodi Health representative. “Based on the patient’s insurance, it could be quite expensive.”
Magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI scanning, uses a magnetic field and pulses of radio waves to make an image of organs and structures with damage or unusual growths.
The scan lasts up to 20 minutes, then the ambulance brings patients back to the hospital. That’s a trip of several thousand dollars for a test so common it’s performed nearly 2,500 times a year.
To remove that unnecessary cost, a new room will be built to house the hospital’s own MRI machine, Farron said.
Wendell Kiser, a member of the Lodi Planning Commission and the Site Plan and Architectural Review Committee, announced the addition at a planning commission meeting Wednesday night.
“One member of the public did come and speak,” said Kiser of the SPARC meeting. “They were concerned about losing the parking spaces on that side.”
The addition will be built adjacent to the emergency room for easy access from the ER and the rest of the hospital. The project will take out six physicians’ parking spaces along Fairmont, but more than 140 spaces will remain.
Construction costs could run up to $1.25 million, and Farron expects the machine to be up and running by next summer, depending on weather and construction progress.
“Right now we’re interviewing contractors,” she said. “Construction will begin in January.”
That cost doesn’t include the MRI machine. Those cost between $1 million and $10 million dollars.
Hospital staff are considering one model with a $1.25 million price tag, but have not yet decided between leasing or purchasing the machine. The expense will come out of the hospital’s capital budgets.
Delta Radiology declined to respond to questions on how this project will affect its business.