, Muskogee, OK

January 15, 2014

VA Medical Center opens MRI suite

By Cathy Spaulding
Phoenix Staff Writer

— Hundreds of veterans no longer have to go elsewhere for comprehensive body imaging.

The Jack C. Montgomery VA Medical Center held a ribbon cutting and tour of its magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) suite Wednesday. The 5,400-square-foot, $3.4 million addition enables veterans to have MRI exams at Muskogee’s VA hospital instead of going elsewhere.

Dr. Vijay Aggarwal, chief of radiology and nuclear medicine, called the MRI suite opening “a historic moment and major milestone in our quest for excellence.”

“We can take care of veterans and have MRIs here,” Aggarwal said.

He said patients have had to get MRIs at other hospitals in Muskogee, Tulsa, even McAlester.

He said the suite could serve about 1,500 patients a year.

MRI Director Dr. Jeffrey Hesse said the suite “adds convenience for veterans so they can have their regularly scheduled lab testing along with the MRIs.”

He said the MRI unit will decrease the amount of time involved with waiting for results. He said the clinicians could have the MRI results in their hands within the same day.

Hesse came to the VA medical center to oversee the program, said Bonnie Pierce, associate director for patient care services at the medical center. As a result, the Jack C. Montgomery VA Medical Center has the added expertise, as well as the equipment, she said.

The suite includes a Phillips Ingenia Omega 1.5T MRI machine, two exam rooms, a control rooms, image reading room, three dressing rooms, lobby, restrooms and lockers for patients and staff.

An MRI unit uses powerful magnets and radio waves to create images of the body, according to the National Institute of Health.

“The scanner converts the energy into an image,” Hesse said.

MRI technician Tim Greener demonstrated just how powerful the magnets are by hurling a tennis ball toward the middle of the unit’s circle. The tennis ball had a magnetic chip inside, causing it to bounce around inside the circle.

“The velocity increases as it gets toward the center of the magnet, where the field is strongest,” Greener said.

The 1.5T means 1.5 teslas, a unit of magnetic force, he said.

The suite also has space for an additional MRI unit if one is needed, Hesse said.

“If there is a need, we’ll put forward steps to do it.”

Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or