As the new Astera Health Campus construction draws to a close, the final touches are underway. One significant milestone recently is the installation of the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) device. This massive project required the help of dozens of Mortenson crew and imaging professionals. On the installation day, the massive device barely fit through the front door. From there, it was guided down hallways to its final resting place in the radiology department. This is only one step of many. So, how do you get an MRI machine?
This final push is only one piece of a much larger puzzle. Getting a magnetic resonance imaging device to a hospital is actually a tremendous challenge. Kate Lachowitzer, diagnostic imaging manager at Tri-County Health Care, has been overseeing the process from the very beginning. She took some time to break down the installation.
- It all starts with ordering the machine. Software applications are finalized, and everything is reviewed thoroughly.
- A shielding plan is devised by the manufacturer based on the specific MRI room. This plan is required so the magnetic field is contained in the room. This involves placing a certain amount of copper and steel in the walls. The MRI scan room is built to follow the shielding plan.
- MRI machine is constructed and shipped. Tri-County Health Care chose Siemens, which is a German company.
- When the unit arrives in the United States, helium is added to the core to stabilize the magnet.
- The install crew has three days to get it hooked up to the chiller onsite to keep it stable. If it isn’t connected to the chiller soon enough, the magnet could quench, releasing all the helium inside the core. Releasing the helium would replace all the oxygen in the room. This could cause anyone in the room to suffocate from a lack of oxygen. Helium is also very cold, so exposure could cause hypothermia.
- It takes about three weeks to put the machine together. At that time, the magnet is not active.
- The last week of installation involves calibrating the magnet. The magnet is activated, and tests are performed.
- Currently, the magnet has been ramped down for safety concerns, but the unit is fully assembled and will be ready for use after the grand opening.