Dan Bewley, News On 6
MUSKOGEE, Oklahoma -- The VA medical center in Muskogee broke ground Monday on a $1.4 million magnetic resonance imaging facility.
"It means a lot to me because this is the first building that's been built since the late '90s" said Chief Engineer Jordan Benware.
The 3,600 square foot facility will hold two MRI machines and cost $1.5-million. It comes on the heels of the medical center's remodeled surgery suite.
That project costs $3.2-million to update technology and improve workspace for doctors and nurses.
"We've been on a real journey to improve the services that we provide to our veterans," said Dr. Karen Gribbin, Hospital's Chief of Staff.
The MRI facility will bring an added dimension to the hospital. Right now the hospital can only perform CT scans which use radiation to inspect bones or arteries. An MRI doesn't use radiation and scans any kind of soft tissue.
Since MRI services are not provided at the VA hospital, veterans are forced to go to private facilities, other hospitals, to get them done. The VA says once those tests are offered it will improve communication and treatment.
"It's overwhelming for the patient sometimes because they want to be able to do everything in one location," said Dan Bewley, X-Ray Technician.
The VA currently treats 45,000 veterans in 25 eastern Oklahoma counties. They expect the new MRI facility to serve more than 2000 veterans every year who currently have to go somewhere else to get those all important tests.
"We really feel like the care we provide is better than the private sector. We have great doctors and nurse and we feel like if we can keep them here they'd be better off," Benware said.
Work on the building should be finished by June of next summer. The hospital expects it to start seeing its first patient by mid-August 2012.