September 17, 2014

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State-of-the-art MRI machine arrives for new Clinic facility

AVON — On Wednesday, a state-of-the-art magnetic resonance imaging machine arrived at the Cleveland Clinic’s new $93 million Avon Family Health and Surgery Center.

Millwrights Local 1871 member Joe Ober of Hiram helps move this massive MRI unit into a new health facility Wednesday in Avon. (CT photo by Chuck Humel.)

Millwrights Local 1871 member Joe Ober of Hiram helps move this massive MRI unit into a new health facility Wednesday in Avon. (CT photo by Chuck Humel.)

“It’s a large machine … it fills the room,” Dr. Joseph Knapp, the facility’s medical director said Wednesday shortly before the unit was lowered into place by a huge crane. “This is the first piece of equipment to go into the building. It was so big they had to get it precisely into position before completing construction. Now they can do that instead of tearing down a wall and having to rebuild it later.”

Able to produce 3-D images and highly detailed pictures of the body, the machine, which typically costs a few million dollars, is able to provide doctors with more precise data than they have had in the past.

“There are no other units like this available in the (Lorain County) area,” Knapp said.

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And patients will have more comfortable, shorter stays inside the MRI unit, thanks to its more powerful magnet that powers the equipment.

“Most standard MRIs have magnets rated 1 to 1.5,” Knapp said. “This one has a 3 Tesla magnet. The strength of the magnet determines how well and how fast scans can be done. The only other 3s in the area are at Metro (MetroHealth Medical Center) and one the clinic has at Marymount Hospital on the east side.”

“Patients have to lie so still during an MRI, which is often being done because someone is in pain,” Knapp said. “The less time they lay there is better for the patient. And the clarity of the images enables a more accurate diagnosis by doctors ordering tests.”

The unit, which is manufactured by Siemens, sits lower to the floor, is quieter than other MRI machines, is more comfortable, especially for very ill and frail patients, and allows those who are claustrophobic to have most exams done feet-first.

“There used to be certain types of shoulder arthograms that required injection of dye into the shoulder joint before undergoing an MRI,” Knapp said. “They could be quite painful. Now that won’t be necessary due to the strength of the magnet of this unit.”

Work on the 187,000-square-foot medical facility is on schedule for a Dec. 5 opening, according to Knapp.

“We’re still on target to see our first patients on that date,” he said.

The opening is to be preceded by a required inspection by the Ohio Department of Health. Assuming the facility passes muster, officials “look to get the keys and begin moving in,” Knapp said.

“It’s a long process,” he said. “We have to get everything set up, computers wired perfectly and routed to printers and all of that. We look to be doing that through the months of October and November.”

The cost of the complex was initially pegged at more than $100 million, but Cleveland Clinic officials were able to negotiate lower prices for equipment and materials, including steel, Knapp said.

The medical facility is expected to employ close to 400 people, including 70 doctors.

The complex will include a 120,000-square-foot main building and 60,000-square-foot imaging and surgery center.

The project is also expected to anchor future development that could include retail shops and restaurants spurred by a nearby interchange at Interstate 90 and Nagel Road. That project was to break ground today.

“Usually the first company on the ground sets the tone for the rest of the interchange, and by having the clinic become the first, that sets the bar extremely high for everybody,” Avon Mayor Jim Smith said. “Now you’re talking doctors’ offices, and hotel brands that should be a step up.”

Smith expects the medical center and future retail development to lure business from neighboring Lorain County communities, Westlake and Bay Village.

Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or sfogarty@chroniclet.com.