A new Philips Ingenia Ambition 1.5T X MRI machine is moved on Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2020, into Cheyenne Regional Medical Center’s west facility. The new machine, which is the first of its kind in Wyoming and only the second in the western region, works 40% faster than prior scans and can hold the largest capacity in the state at 550 pounds. Michael Cummo/Wyoming Tribune Eagle

CHEYENNE – The main entrance of Cheyenne Regional Medical Center was essentially shut down Tuesday due to the delivery of the hospital’s new MRI machine.

It’s an impressive (and massive) piece of equipment, the first of its kind ever seen in Wyoming and only the second one in the entire western United States. The first was installed in California just a couple weeks ago.

According to information provided by hospital spokeswoman Kathy Baker, the MRI boasts an all-digital system, resulting in much higher resolution images, has a 40% reduced scan time and allows for patients up to 550 pounds to comfortably fit inside the machine.

The new machine is also created to make patients much more comfortable when getting a scan, featuring such mechanics as two screens inside of the bay for patients to focus on, a countdown visualization for them to watch and noise reduction, for a much more calming experience.

“We want people to know that they’re getting a scan that’s more clear and accurate than anything else out there,” said Casey Robinson, the hospital’s cardiac and imaging services administrator. “But we’re not just bringing in a new magnet, we’re creating an entirely new MRI department. This is a game-changer.”

The new MRI department will also feature a dedicated waiting room just for MRI patients, a private anesthesia bay, restroom and a changing room. There will be an ambient experience projected inside the suite for claustrophobic or anxious patients.

But while the $5 million project is game-changing, the hospital isn’t done with the makeover quite yet.

Hospital Chief Operating Officer Robin Roling said CRMC is in year two of a 10-year remodel plan, and the MRI project was happening before she even arrived at the hospital.

“It was about a three-year plan to get the new MRI here, but we want to create spaces that are welcoming and accommodating for patients, families and the equipment we use,” she said. “It’s a lot of work that’s never truly done.”

The remodel plan will cost around $30 million, but will ultimately see an almost completely new (at least on the inside) hospital by the time it’s complete.

First, they will begin by starting construction in the basement on the east campus. When it’s complete, that area will become the space for some of the financial and billing departments at CRMC. Then, a portion of the east campus’ first floor will be gutted, with a new behavioral health unit taking its place.

“With that space on the east campus that we’ll have, we’re hoping to also create an outdoor space for our patients,” she said. “I think that will be so great.”

Roling believes that construction will begin on the east campus in late spring.

During this time, patients on the fourth floor in the west campus will be moved one floor down. The fourth floor will also be gutted, making room for the new mother/baby unit. Once the staff and patients are moved from the current mother/baby unit on the fifth floor, a new intensive care unit will take its place.

Roling noted that patients and families should be aware of the construction if they’re at the hospital later this year, and that hospital staff is doing everything they can to make patients’ stays comfortable.

“Our intention is for people to see and understand that we’re doing this in an effort to improve the quality of care we’re providing,” she said. “We’re ensuring this organization provides the best care and best spaces.”

Ellen Fike is a freelance writer living in Cheyenne. She can be reached at elfylucille@gmail.com. Follow her on Twitter at @EllenLFike.

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