FAIRFIELD — A crane swung a 13,000-pound component to a Toshiba Vantage Titan magnetic resonance imaging machine through the air and aimed for the opening in the roof of a new building.
This silver, checker-shaped, 7-foot-tall piece of equipment had two small arrows on its plastic wrapping indicating which side is the top. After all, a key part of a unit that costs $1.5 million must be handled with care.
“This is the heart of it,” said Adrian Riggs, director of Solano Diagnostics Imaging, a NorthBay Healthcare affiliate. “It’s the MRI magnet.”
The magnet is filled with liquid helium. The magnetic field it generates will make pictures of organs and structures within the body.
All of this happened Wednesday at the eastern end of the NorthBay Medical Center campus. Workers seemingly conjured up a 1,350-square-foot, one-story magnetic imaging building with key equipment inside within a matter of seven hours.
Workers started off at about 6 a.m. with a foundation already at the site. They used a crane to lift into place the two sections of a building that had been prefabricated in Southern California, one section weighing 58,000 pounds and the other 48,000 pounds.
Then they had to move several heavy pieces of the MRI machine from a flatbed truck into the building, with the magnet being the largest. The crane lifted off a section of the roof to create the opening.
More work needs to be done. The MRI machine must be assembled and certified. The building’s exterior walls need stucco.
“We’re looking to do our first patient on Sept. 29,” Riggs said.
NorthBay Medical Center presently brings its hospital patients who need MRI services to the Solano Diagnostics Imaging building on B. Gale Wilson Boulevard near Dana Drive. But, because the short journey entails crossing the street, patients must travel in ambulance.
The new building housing the new MRI machine is next to the hospital. Patients will be able to travel to it by wheelchair or gurney.
Solano Diagnostic Imaging will still have offices at its present location and continue to offer various imaging procedures there. But it will soon no longer need the MRI machine now being used, not with the $1.5 million new machine in place. The old one will be surplus.
“It needs to be upgraded, so we’ll just trade it or sell it,” Riggs said. “We got 13 years out of it.”
The new MRI machine has the shortest magnet with the largest field of vision available. This provides room for bariatric patients and allows patients to be scanned without having their heads inside the magnet for many procedures, a NorthBay press release said.
It is also less noisy, making exams more comfortable, the press release said.
“The new MRI is designed with patient comfort in mind,” Riggs said.
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.