PeaceHealth Peace Island adds cardiac MRIs to diagnostic imaging toolkit
FRIDAY HARBOR, Wash. – PeaceHealth Peace Island Medical Center marked a milestone in its diagnostic imaging capabilities last month when a local resident became the first patient to receive a cardiac MRI on-site.
An MRI—which stands for magnetic resonance imaging—is a radiation-free scanning technique that uses a magnetic field and computer-generated radio waves to create detailed images of organs and tissues in the body. A cardiac MRI can show the parts of the heart, including chambers, valves and muscles, and how well they are working. These high-quality, multi-dimensional images help healthcare providers make a diagnosis.
The procedure at PeaceHealth Peace Island was performed by a contract technologist in the Alliance mobile MRI coach, which has been visiting the hospital weekly for more than a year.
Christopher Wood, director of Imaging Services for the PeaceHealth Northwest network, said cardiac MRIs are highly specialized and rare to find at small, rural hospitals. Not only does it require specialized hardware, software and equipment, including coils to place over the patient's body, but advanced training for the imaging technologists.
"To put all that together on that coach and make that available to the San Juan Island community is a huge deal," he said.
Until now, patients needing cardiac MRIs had to travel to a hospital on the mainland--in many cases, PeaceHealth St. Joseph or PeaceHealth United General medical centers--for the procedure.
"This is an impressive step forward in our Cardiac MRI program—historical for the islands and a welcome addition to what is the largest cardiac MRI program in the Pacific Northwest," said cardiologist Kevin Steel, DO, who heads the program for the PeaceHealth Northwest network.
PeaceHealth Peace Island has seen significant growth in diagnostic imaging over the last couple of years. Between July and December of 2022, for example, the team performed 184 MRIs, a 41 percent increase over the same time period in the previous year.