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Health district moves on MRI purchase

Lake Health District’s Board of Directors voted its approval of purchasing a dedicated magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine during its Thursday, Dec. 5, business meeting.

The decision followed extended discussion on the District’s options, as presented by Lake District Hospital CEO Charlie Tveit.  Previous board meeting discussions had set December as a tentative goal for in-depth discussion on the subject.

Ultimately, the Board supported the purchase of a General Electric MRI unit, priced at $979,205, with an estimated construction cost of $560,000 for its installation.

In the motion for the purchase, the Board approved authorizing the district to move forward with the purchase with a cap of $1,550,000.  This cap would require any costs above and beyond that amount to be presented before the board.

Board member Judy Graham cast the lone vote of opposition to the cap, noting that the District is going to need to go as far as needed for implementation.

Tveit noted, in his presentation, that the district budgeted $1.3 million for the expected implementation of an on-site MRI machine.

This past summer, research commenced on varied vendors with the selection narrowed down to three brands: Siemens, General Electric and Toshiba. One particular criteria of consideration is serviceability.

An additional factor prodding action by the District included 90-day notice by Mobile MRI, the current service provider of MRI services via a mobilized commercial truck and trailer unit, Tveit said.

General Electric and Toshiba offered up the latest in technology, while Siemens offered up a refurbished unit and, consequently, happened to fall in at the lowest price.  Both GE and Toshiba were on par with similar pricing, Tveit said.

A total of 1,276 outpatient medical procedures were performed in 2012, a figure that is estimated to increase by 17.6 percent to 1,500 by 2017.

The Board also discussed local service volume for sustaining such an addition.  Dr. Mark Bradbury, MD, noted that orthopedists and neurosurgeons are examples of the biggest users of MRI services.  He also agreed that the technology is being utilized more and more as a diagnostic tool.

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