MRI technologist Janelle Buccino runs the new extremity MRI unit at Orthopedics of Steamboat Springs on Monday as James Chapman keeps his arm still in the machine. The new machine allows patients to have an MRI without going into a full-body scanner.

Photo by Scott Franz

MRI technologist Janelle Buccino runs the new extremity MRI unit at Orthopedics of Steamboat Springs on Monday as James Chapman keeps his arm still in the machine. The new machine allows patients to have an MRI without going into a full-body scanner.

New MRI machine in Steamboat Springs makes scans more comfortable

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MRI technologist Janelle Buccino makes sure patient James Chapman is comfortable before his elbow is scanned in the new extremity MRI unit at Orthopedics of Steamboat Steamboat Springs.

— Inside a dimly lit medical room on Monday afternoon, the MRI machine that held up James Chapman's arm made a loud clicking noise for several minutes as it slowly scanned his elbow.

Chapman didn't hear any of this clatter though. He was laying comfortably in a modern leather recliner with his eyes closed as he listened to contemporary Christian music on Pandora.

MRI units usually evoke visions of a person sitting uncomfortably still in a small tube.

But at Orthopedics of Steamboat Springs, the word MRI now conjures up scenes of people like Chapman laying back in a chair as they take advantage of the office's new extremity MRI machine.

The GE Optima MR430s is no ordinary piece of equipment.

It's also rare.

Stephen Veals, a consultant for Orthopedics of Steamboat Springs, said the new MRI unit is one of only two in the state of Colorado.

He said the local practice invested in the new technology to better accommodate its patients.

“Everything about it is exciting,” he said. “It's very positive for a community of any size. But it's especially positive for an active community like this. And you don't have to go to Denver.”

The machine, which was installed in June, became a reality after nine months to a year of design and engineering.

Because of the high magnetic field the MRI unit produces, the office underwent a remodel to accommodate it. It also had to be certified by a physicist.

Veals said the new extremity MRI unit uses the same 1.5 Tesla strength magnet used in full body MRI units, so it provides the same image quality.

It also is less expensive than the traditional full-body scanner, he said.

He said usually patients can have access to the new MRI machine on the same day they visit the doctor for an injury.

Getting an MRI on an arm, elbow, wrist, hand, ankle and foot isn't a claustrophobic experience in the new model as it requires only the limb to be inside the machine.

MRI technologist Janelle Buccino explains that instead of having to position people like Superman in a full-body scanner to scan the inside of an arm, she now simply places their arm in a tube as they sit in a recliner.

“It's been a great tool for the doctors,” Buccino said. “It really has increased patient satisfaction.”

Veals joked the biggest worry about the new machine is patients falling asleep when they use it.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com

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Comments

Kat Kelly 8 months, 1 week ago

WOW, this is great and I am so happy I was not the first one to use it :)

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cindy constantine 8 months, 1 week ago

Interesting that this machine in at a medical practice and not at the hospital . . . wonder how that will effect the hospital's bottom line . . . . .

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Neil O'Keeffe 8 months, 1 week ago

Really, why all the fuss about something that many in the community can't afford. Every time I have needed an MRI I have made the trip to Denver or elsewhere since the cost is less than half what YVMC charges and same for many other procedures. Most of us with insurance have high deductibles and end up paying out of pocket for the first $5-10k. People are beginning to realize that it's not just the insurance companies that are responsible to our sky-rocketing health care costs but also the many Hospitals (profit and non-profit) that are gouging their communities with exorbitant rates for everything from bandages and room rates to diagnostic testing. Thank you YVMC for a piece of equipment many of us will never see.

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Neil O'Keeffe 8 months, 1 week ago

Oh sorry to single out the Hospitals, lets not forget about the pharmaceutical industry and equipment manufacturers/suppliers! When in Rome...

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Brian Smith 8 months, 1 week ago

You may not have noticed, the YVMC doesn't own this particular unit. Orthopedics of Steamboat Springs does.

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Neil O'Keeffe 8 months, 1 week ago

As a follow up to my griping. Do we really have the best healthcare in the world or just the most expensive? Me thinks the latter! If we could ever take the profit motive out of sickness, death and dying (like every other industrialized nation) we might actually create something of value to all citizens regardless of their socio-economic position. Affordable healthcare should be a right not a privilege, unfortunately that would be far too socialist minded for many and is not likely to be seen in my lifetime.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/02/health/colonoscopies-explain-why-us-leads-the-world-in-health-expenditures.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

http://freebeacon.com/obamacare-wont-bring-dont-costs/

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rhys jones 8 months, 1 week ago

Wow, it's not that I didn't realize what a ripoff medical services are, especially being uninsured; I've been fortunate to be blessed with good health... it's just that I have the VA, and they do everything. A couple of years ago, I got a free colonoscopy in Phoenix, and recently, a shingles vaccination and thorough blood tests in Grand Junction -- both first-rate facilities, as up-to-date as the government can afford, despite aging structures... They have a tele-clinic in Craig, but the doc is in the Junction, which covers all my routine procedures, and the VA will cover all of my emergency services, wherever they are treated.

I went to a local doctor recently for a minor thing, and despite him cutting me a favor in the bill, gas to the Junction would have been cheaper.

I guess those four years in The Suck weren't so bad after all; they taught me programming, sent me to college, and now cover all my medical. So there's always that option, friends!!

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Scott Wedel 8 months, 1 week ago

Just goes to show how screwed up the healthcare is in the United States.

We practice defensive medicine and take MRIs for broken arms and other situations where it provides no medical benefit, but provides protections against potential malpractice lawsuits.

Medicare and the insurance companies reimburse at a relatively generous rate so it is profitable for a medical practice to install MRI machines that are relatively lightly used. Other developed countries with lower healthcare costs and overall better outcomes reimburse less for MRIs. So they have fewer machines that are more heavily used, often operated 14-16 hours a day.

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Neil O'Keeffe 8 months, 1 week ago

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/13/us/a-limit-on-consumer-costs-is-delayed-in-health-care-law.html?pagewanted=2&_r=0&ref=todayspaper

I especially like some of the comments related to this article and I share the sentiments of the comment noted below. Sad but true!

"This is unacceptable!! If there are no limits on out of pocket expenses, then there is no insurance coverage. Why would anyone pay for insurance when their out of pocket expenses are not capped? We are back to square one and probably worse off!

This president (not the Congress) has capitulated to the health insurers and sold out the American people. I will no longer be duped into voting for the lesser of two evils! No Republican or Democrat will get my vote for any office in the country until they clearly demonstrate they are on the side of ordinary people (i.e. 99% of us.) Talk is cheap; I want demonstrative results! Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. Enough is enough!"

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David Moore 8 months, 1 week ago

My apologies Mr. Wedel, but you are erroneous in your above statement. Medicare does not reimburse at a generous rate. As a provider, I can attest that they reimburse at a very low, non generous rate of around 18 cents or less on every dollar spent. Insurance companies are no better and will deny more than they pay. Your issues with healthcare lie solely on the insurance companies, they call the shots and pay when they feel it is worthy. I get paid if they feel like it, not because of the work I do. Some pay well, others do not pay at all, meaning the work is done for free. We do a lot of free healthcare believe it or not, myself over 60%, of free work in the medical business. Even those who are insured get free care from people like me and those I work for, which is very wrong and I am sorry you don't agree with that. My congrats to OSS on the acquisition of such a modern marvel, it will be an asset to both the surgeons and the patients who use it.

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Brian Smith 8 months, 1 week ago

I had an MRI of my knee on this unit last week, WAY better for someone who is claustrophobic than a standard MRI machine. I really appreciate the fact that we have this in town and I don't have to get sedated to have an MR done when needed.

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Jim Kelley 8 months, 1 week ago

It's about time there was another option for MRIs in Steamboat. The hospital charges 3,000.00+ for an MRI scan with dye. Denver rates = 700.00 to 1,800.00 for the same procedure. After going through the process several times now of seeing doctors in Steamboat but traveling to Denver for MRIs, I actually wrote YVMC and asked why the MRI rate is so high at the hospital. Their reply was that their machine costs so much that they have to charge x amount to pay for it. ....Yeah... My guess is now the price of MRIs at YVMC will drop. Competition! Plus, having the machine in the orthopedic office that sees the most bone and joint patients means they can do it in house. This actually does help keep overall costs down. Not every procedure should involve the hospital.

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walt jones 8 months, 1 week ago

So how on earth does Steamboat of all places get 1 of 2 in the entire state. I can think of a dozen population centers larger than here that would have far more use for this machine.

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Scott Glynn 8 months, 1 week ago

Complain about profits all you want. Ring the bell for for the greed of pharms, and doctors. Blame the low pay rate of insurance companies. All of this is really inconsequential until you address the issue of tort reform. Until there are significant punishments for plaintiffs and their council for filing frivolous lawsuits, prices, and therefore insurance premiums, will remain inflated. A hospital/doctor is often forced to not diagnose the problem, but eliminate possibilities. Many people will sue them for not treating their bunion when they have received treatment for their broken wrist. Quite often an attorney (settle down barristers, I did not say most, or all attorneys) will see an opportunity for an easy settlement, as the professional liability insurance company will pay a settlement vs. fighting the charge. The state of Colorado values the human life at somewhere around $360,000 in the case of a death. But "pain and suffering", loss of wages, and loss of consortium can be valued at millions.

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Melanie Turek 8 months, 1 week ago

Scott, the CBO estimates that tort reform will save about $11 billion over the next 10 years, including the savings in unnecessary tests performed "to be safe." That's obviously a nice chunk of change, but it's not going to fix the $2.7 trillion we spent on healthcare in 2012--a number that is growing all the time. Greedy insurance companies and the pay-for-play structure of our system have far more impact on costs that malpractice, or its threat.

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Neil O'Keeffe 8 months, 1 week ago

And if you or one of your family were involved in an obvious case of negligence, would you be content with your life being valued at $360K? Not likely! Yes punitive damages can be outrageous and yes they do contribute to high malpractice insurance costs, but by no means would tort reform keep all the healthcare players you mentioned from maximizing their profits all at the expense of the sick and dying. Plain and simple, profit comes above all else in our system even when it is about basic human rights. It's the American way!

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mark hartless 8 months, 1 week ago

Normally it is I who condemn and castigate on this blog so perhaps a reversal is fitting. Mr. O'Keeffe has certainly prompted my response so let's take issue with his assertions seriatim, shall we?

First, I do not believe that YVMC is "gouging" anyone. There are costs associated with doing business and prices are a reflection of those costs. Furthermore, my experience with those at that facility have led me to believe that we here in Routt County enjoy one of the finest healthcare facilities anywhere and I am proud of and thankful for it and for those who practice there.

Secondly, pharmaceutical companies are just what Mr. O'Keeffe called them... COMPANIES; and companies exist to make money for their shareholders... PERIOD. They do not exist to do charity work and if that was all they did they would not exist for long. Furthermore, their R&D costs, risks of denial, time cost of capital, etc make the business as tough as any there is. While many large drug companies do make high profit margins there are many generic providers who earn less than 3% profit, far lower than other industries.

On both these issues I would encourage anyone who thinks somebody else is "makin' a killin'" producing pharmaceuticals or providing healthcare to put their money where their mouth is and go into the business and show us how it's done!

Thirdly, it is clear that Mr. O'Keeffe has an ax to grind with profit in general, stating that we should take profit out of medicine. Frankly this is not only one of the most absurd things I have ever heard, but it is a statement that shows a woeful ignorance of how capitalism creates and provides things that no alternate system could. I wonder how much life-saving medicine would have been produced last year if there existed zero chance for the producer to gain from making it. I wonder why any company would shell out billions in R&D for the life-saving medical devices of tomorrow knowing there would be zero profit in it for them. And I wonder who would ever be so foolish as to say that someone like Bill Gates or Steve Jobs would have worked hard and changed the world for zero profit. No, Mr. O'Keeffe, profit, and the hope of realizing that profit, has fed more people, clothed more people, housed more people, lifted more people out of squalor and poverty, and CURED more people than charity ever, ever will.

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mark hartless 8 months, 1 week ago

Continuing on...

The reason healthcare is so expensive is:

1. People have no vested interest in the cost of their care. Many times people get treated and, apart from their deductible, they never even SEE the bill, much less have to pay even a percentage of it. If people had to pay a percentage of the cost of every aspirin, bandage, pill, etc, they would review the bill and shop for the best price and the cost of care would decrease. I point you to proceedures such as lasik eye surgery, something that is NOT insured. Costs for that have dropped because there is competition. There is plenty of profit in lasik, but costs are not skyrocketing because of competition.

2. If we used our car or homeowners insurance like many of us want to use medical insurance it too would be unaffordable. If we expected our car insurance to buy us new batteries, new tires, replace windshield wipers, etc it would be way more expensive. Ditto for home insurance. If you expected your home-owners insurance to mow your grass it would be as outrageous as medical insurance.

3.I do not know how placing the same entity in charge of healthcare that currently runs Amtrack, the Post Office, the DMV and the host of other abysmal failures was supposed to "cure" healthcare. However, many of those who foolishly believed it would are now scrambling for any villian they can find so as not to admit government, once again, is NOT the solution to anything, especially when lives are at stake.

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Neil O'Keeffe 8 months, 1 week ago

My point is that why do we need to profit on sickness and death? Anyone taking the side of all the parties that make our healthcare only the most expensive not the most efficient or effective is sadly misinformed and or delusional. In your case likely both.

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Mark Ruckman 8 months, 1 week ago

I have seen a great story about Steamboat getting an advanced MRI turn into dribble about healthcare cost, etc. Thank You Orthopedics of Steamboat Springs.

Now for a little math lesson for those that wonder why MRI cost in Steamboat are higher than in Denver.

Each machine cost x, so Denver and Steamboat pay about the same. The maintenance cost are roughly the same The machine has set life before it must be replaced by a newer machine. Denver has more people, more demand, more competition and more usage of the MRI than Steamboat.

Thus a hospital in Denver that uses the MRI machine 10 times a day vs. Steamboat that may use it twice day has lower operating cost and will charge less.

If you don't get the above example - then contemplate why gas in Denver is cheaper than in Steamboat. Hopefully one of these examples will sink in and you will understand the basic elements of supply & demand.

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Neil O'Keeffe 8 months, 1 week ago

Believe what you will and you obviously didn't read this link which without too much imagination can be extrapolated to most if not all medical procedures. Long live the AMERICAN DREAM!

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/02/health/colonoscopies-explain-why-us-leads-the-world-in-health-expenditures.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

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Jim Kelley 8 months ago

Mark, Denver does have more people and hospitals but the population to hospital services is much greater in Denver. ( More people per hospital bed) That doesn't explain it. What does is the fact that Denver MRI machines have competition. Lots of it. The Clinic I have gone to is an "imaging" clinic. nothing but MRIs, CT scans, ultrasounds etc. The one thing nice about an MRI procedure is it's one of the few procedures that a customer (patient) can actually do comparison shopping on. Other procedures have no posted "price". If all procedures and services actually listed their prices, then competition would drive prices down. Hospitals and doctors really don't like that. They would rather "negotiate" price following the services and procedures. True, transparent listing of prices would go a long way to driving prices down.

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mark hartless 8 months ago

I agree Jim. And of course nobody on the "inside" wants competition. But that's true of all industries and it doesn't mean that profit causes the skyrocketing costs we see. There is plenty of profit in other industries and their prices don't skyrocket because there is competition.

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mark hartless 8 months, 1 week ago

Nobody is "profiting on sickness and death".

We areall trying to prevent sickness and death.

In order to prevent sickness and death people dedicate many hours of their life pracfticing medicine. They should be compensated fairly just like people who pour concrete or paint houses or answer phones.

I am proud to "take the side" of those who dedicate many years of their life learning a skill that has already saved mine and countless others.

Profit is NOT the culprit here, Neil. Nor is it those who practice medicine. I can think of few other professions that have done as much for me, and for mankind.

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mark hartless 8 months, 1 week ago

You know, for anyone who does not want people to "profit from sickness and death", you could always REFUSE to go to the hospital-refuse to seek medical care. That might show those old fuddy-duddies down at the hospital.

My guess is that when your leg is bending the wrong direction, or when your heart is comming out of your chest the "profit motive" will be of far less concern.

Nobody is putting a gun to your head insisting that you participate is a system you believe to be beneath you... unlike a lot of other situations.

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Mark Ruckman 8 months ago

sorry Neil, I did read the article. Interesting food for thought, but the generalizations with other countries are too broad.

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Neil O'Keeffe 8 months ago

You are absolutely right, I have been in healthcare for over 20 years and I have experienced firsthand the profit motive outweighing the availability of affordable healthcare firsthand many times. I am not holding YVMC responsible for the problem just pointing out that they are part of the problem. And yes I do make a personal choice to use allopathic medicine as little as possible and prefer to take a preventative and proactive approach to my personal health using nutrition, stress management, exercise and other modalities to maintain health and longevity. Unfortunately in the few instances I have had to use allopathic medicine over the years I have often had to go outside of Yampa Valley to save $. I have always had health insurance for catastrophic injury/illness, but like everyone else my premiums continue to go up along with my deductible regardless of claim history. IMHO we have a broken and inefficient health care system in this country. Affordable healthcare is available in every industrialized country except ours, there is no perfect system and I just happen to believe that ours has far more room for improvement than most.

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mark hartless 8 months ago

I would be very careful to say that there is affordable healthcare AVAILABLE in all other industrialized nations.

Yes, it is affordable but to say it is AVAILABLE on a scale anywhere like what we enjoy here is doubtful.

Back when there was a Soviet Union EVERYTHING was "affordable". The law demanded it. The sign in the bakery read: "Bread 1 Ruble". Problem was that behind the price tag was only an empty shelf because tha bakers decided it was more fun to drink vodka than bake bread for NO PROFIT.

This phenomena has re-occurred throughout the utopian socialist experiments of history.

Healthcare is no different; remove the profit and the innovation and quality and availability will decrease... period.

I have not researched this but why don't you check those other countries out and see how many MRI machines there are per capita, the wait time for certain procedures, the quality of the outcomes, etc.

All I know for sure is that those who can come from all over the world to have life-saving medicine come HERE, not to mant of those other nations to which you refer.

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Neil O'Keeffe 8 months ago

Those who can afford our healthcare come here for our "gold standard" services which is no different than those in our country that can afford it use it the rest are SH** OUT OF LUCK! To the rich go the spoils I guess, too bad for the less fortunate working for minimum wage struggling to support a family. Unfortunately we share too many similarities with the Roman Empire and we all know how that turned out. Bread and Circus will keep all the sheeple in line, at least for awhile longer!

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mark hartless 8 months ago

So you admit we here in America have "gold standard" health care.

Good, that's a start.

The "rest of us" (which includes me) are NOT S.O.L. There are programs which offer life-saving medicine at no cost to those who can't afford it, and no hospital turns anyone away in this contry. So your assertion is simply FALSE.

I have an appointment Monday morning for a $3,800 proceedure which will not be covered by my insurance. Am I pissed about that?? Yep! Is it anyone elses responsibility? Nope.

I think it would be helpful for Americans such as yourself to contemplate that 100 yrs ago the things we are tempted to call a "rip-off" were not available at any price... Not to me; not to you; not to kings and princes.

I do agree with you Neil, that we do indeed share far too many similarities with Rome. Unfortunately, I do not agree that "we all know how that turned out". Far too many Americans haven't a clue how that turned out, nor how similar their path was to the one we trod today.

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John Fielding 8 months ago

.

Oregon has long had "right to die" legislation. Now it appears there may be more than just the patient, their family and the doctor involved in the decision.

Obamacare Death Panels Come to Oregon: Committee May Deny Cancer Treatment

http://www.lifenews.com/2013/08/13/obamacare-death-panels-come-to-oregon-committee-may-deny-cancer-treatment/

.

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