What IS that thing?

The opening of the new $460 million dollar medical tower at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett is just 90 days away.

The walls are painted, the floors are shined

and installation is now under way on its diagnostic “toys,” sophisticated imaging technology with price tags as big as the hulking machines.

On the first floor alone, there’s $20 million of equipment. That includes two MRI and three CT scanners, which take sophisticated medical images of the inside of the body.

The largest of the two MRI scanners weighs 25,000 pounds, and is big enough to accommodate patients weighing up to 500 pounds.

The machine is used in a variety of ways, typically producing detailed images of the brain and spine, said Ed Glasser, the hospital’s lead MRI technologist.

It can snap images of the body’s blood-carrying vessels anywhere in the body, but often is used for checking on vessels of the head and neck, he said. MRIs also are used to obtain detailed depictions of joints, such as elbows, shoulders and knees.

A second, slightly smaller MRI machine sits nearby, weighing 17,000 pounds.

Extra steel beams have been added under the first floor to support the weight of the diagnostic imaging equipment, said Dave Brooks, the hospital’s chief executive.

The two MRI machines were shipped cross-country on trucks with special cooling systems to keep the machines cold, a necessary step to prevent damage to the coils that create the magnetic field used to create intricate images of the body.

The MRIs will be able to conduct tests on as many as 8,000 patients annually, Brooks said.

The three CT scanners often are used to take images of internal organs such as the lungs, liver, kidney and pancreas, Glasser said.

Overall, the hospital is spending $45 million on technology and equipment for the new medical tower, said Scott Anderson, a vice president for construction.

In addition to the $20 million for diagnostic imaging, about $10 million is being spent on surgical equipment and $15 million is spent on other technology and equipment scattered throughout the remainder of hospital, Anderson said.

The new 12-story medical tower is scheduled to open June 14 with 240 in-patient rooms and space to expand to a maximum of 368.

The emergency room, which will be on the building’s ground floor, will have 79 treatment rooms, each approximately 700 square feet.

The Colby campus’ current emergency department is scheduled to close the day the new tower, and its new emergency room, opens June 14. The hospital’s other emergency room, at 916 Pacific Ave., will close two days later, on June 16.

Public open houses for the new hospital tower are scheduled for June 11 and 12.

Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486 or salyer@heraldnet.

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