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The inside of the mobile Magnetic Resonance Imaging machine is open to patients following its unveiling ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, Oct. 12. The new MRI unit is unique in that not only is its design superior to the units once used by the hospital, but it is also the first to be owned by the hospital.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Jonathan G. Wright

NHCL unveils new, improved MRI unit

12 Oct 2010 | Lance Cpl. Jonathan G. Wright

The Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune unveiled a new and improved mobile Magnetic Resonance Imaging machine following a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the hospital, Oct. 12.

MRIs are X-rays that can clearly show any part of the human body, whether it be muscle, bones or even soft tissues in the brain.

"This new unit is better, faster, bigger, and the images it produces are stronger than we've ever had before," said Navy Capt. Daniel Zinder, commanding officer of NHCL. "The important thing about it is that it's our own; we're not renting it from a contractor."

Any MRI units the hospital used previously were leased to them by an outside entity, such as contractors, meaning they could dictate when and how the MRI unit would be used. However, now that the new mobile MRI unit belongs to the hospital, the availability is dictated by the patients.

"Once we have the personnel trained up on how to operate the unit, it will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week," said Cmdr. Gregory Hall, radiology department head with NHCL. "Not only will we be able to increase capacity, but also allow for emergency uses."

Not only does this increase in availability allow more patients who need scans to be seen, but due to the improvements over recent units, this MRI unit is larger, clearer and cuts down on scan times.

"This open-bore scanner is shorter, yet larger to be more accommodating to larger patients, patients with claustrophobia or even (post-traumatic stress disorder)," said Jennifer Hargett, lead MRI technician with NHCL.

In the past, it was cheaper to rent a unit; only recently has the need for MRI scans increased, due to such factors as returning wounded from overseas, tipping the balance from “cheaper to rent” to “cheaper to own.”

"In the past, MRI units were not used as much and it was not cost-effective to own one," said Hall. "Now, as overall medicine has progressed, the need for MRIs have increased as well, now making it prevalent to own and operate one ourselves."

With a new MRI unit now at the hospital, patients in need of scans will be seen on a shorter notice, be completed in a less amount of time and have more accommodations than in the past. While this may be yet another small step in the progression of medicine as a whole, it is a noticeable step ahead for the men and women aboard the base when it comes to medical care.