IN an operation matching the most delicate of surgical procedures, a 5.5 tonne magnet that forms part of a new medical resonance imaging (MRI) machine was installed at Albury Base Hospital yesterday.
The magnet was too large to be installed at ground level and instead had to be lifted by crane through the roof.
Installation of the new Siemens 1.5 Tesla machine will be completed over the coming weeks and it is expected to be operational by early next month, costing a total of $1.3 million.
Director of x-ray@abh, Dr James Mullins, said the machine would provide the first public magnetic resonance imaging service in Albury, located on-site at Albury Base Hospital.
A copper-lined room has been built to house the new machine, countering any stray electrical currents that might affect the machine’s magnetic field.
“Previously people have had to get an ambulance to utilise the machine at the private hospital, which hasn’t been suitable for those who can’t be moved,” Dr Mullins said.
“We don’t have a Medicare licence at the moment but we will be trying to get one and when we do we will be able to bulk bill patients for the service.”
Dr Mullins said preliminary feedback from the Government in relation to the licence was promising.
Dr Mullins said the MRI was part of a major equipment purchase by x-ray@abh before beginning operations at Albury Base Hospital in December after winning the Greater Southern Area Health Service contract.
The purchase had included three ultrasound machines and a CT scanner, he said.
“These are pieces of equipment needed to do high quality work,” he said.
“Unless that infrastructure is in place it is hard to attract specialists to the city. The flow-on effects of that are quite positive.”