Advocate BroMenn Medical Center in Normal is rolling out new state-of-the-art equipment worth $5 million.
The additions include a new MRI machine housed in a Sentient Patient Experience Suite, a new CT scanner, two nuclear medicine cameras and an automated breast ultrasound machine.
Radiology Director Brenda Downen said the sentient suite will reduce anxiety common to people undergoing MRI scans because patients can watch videos or see soothing lights inside the machine.
“They don’t even have to know that they’re inside the magnets,” Downen said. “This magnet is also more open. It’s called an open bore magnet. We’re really excited about it. We’ve had some really good successes so far. We’re hoping to really reduce the amount of patients we have to give anesthesia to.”
Along with reducing claustrophobia and anxiety, the MRI unit offers faster and better image quality and can auto-correct when patients are unable to keep still or hold their breath.
Downen said some of the devices in the center also use 30 to 50 percent less radiation than older mechanisms.
“The new CT scanner is a reduction of about 40 percent for our patients,” Downen said. “We’ve also added digital x-ray equipment throughout the department that results in about a 50 percent decrease in dose and reduced the dose of the new nuclear medicine cameras by 30 percent.”
Only five centers in the United States currently have such equipment, with the nearest center in Kentucky. Downen added this does not mean hospital equipment at BroMenn was dangerous before or that it is dangerous at other centers.
“We always deal in very low doses of radiation here in the department,” Downen said. “Even facilities that have not made this transition are still using safe levels of radiation. However, it’s our goal to continue to reduce the amount of radiation we deliver to patients over their lifetime, so this equipment is important in that way.”
Along with increasing the safety of its technology, Downen said BroMenn is making trips to the hospital more cost-effective for patients.
“This week I’m convinced goes way beyond fluff or aesthetics,” Downen said. “It goes into the clinical arena about getting better imaging, as well as a safety aspect and a cost aspect. If we’re able to do these exams without anesthesia, our patients’ bills decrease.”
Downen said sometimes the bill for the anesthesiologist costs more than the MRI scan itself. The new technology could save patients more than half of what they usually pay.
Although only four other centers have similar technology, Downen said she hopes it will become more common in the future.
“When patients are less anxious, they’re better able to cooperate and assist with their care, and we get better imaging and better health outcomes,” Downen said.
Most of BroMenn’s new equipment was added last summer.
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