Health system officials make pitches for imaging facilities

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 27, 2005

With the explosion of people moving into Suffolk and surrounding communities, heath systems across the region are scrambling to get the upper hand in meeting the area’s growing healthcare demands.

During public hearings at Obici Hospital Thursday, officials from Obici, Riverside and Bon Secours Hampton Roads health systems and Lakeview Medical Center made appeals to enhance the imaging services at their respective facilities.

All four healthcare organizations have submitted Certificates of Need applications to invest in new high-tech CT and MRI imaging systems.

Email newsletter signup

More than 40 people turned out for the hearings conducted by the Eastern Virginia Health Systems Agency. The agency’s full committee, which makes recommendations for approval or denial to the state health commissioner, will review the companies’ applications at its June meeting.

Obici has submitted applications for one on-site CT scanner, along with a mobile CT unit and a mobile MRI unit.

The on-site unit would go in the new surgical center expansion the hospital is planning to open in July 2007, said Peter Mellette, the hospital’s attorney. The mobile units would travel between the new outpatient site, North Suffolk Family Medicine and Smithfield Medical Center.

Obici has experienced dramatic increases in usage of its CT and MRI imaging systems in recent years, Mellette said.

&uot;The high demand for services has placed a burden on us,&uot; Mellette said. &uot;It has caused inconvenience for patients and problems with the scheduled delivery of service.&uot;

Since 2001, the use of the hospital’s existing CT scan has climbed 17 percent annually, rising from 8,909 in 2001 to 14,555 in 2004, said Gloria Seitz, the hospital’s marketing director. During that same time, the hospital’s MRI use has climbed 14 percent annually.

To accommodate the growing demands on the system, patients are being scheduled for CT scans and MRIs on evenings and weekends, Mellette added.

Other applications discussed during Thursday’s hearings include:

-Lakeview Medical Center, which has applied for an on-site CT scanner.

-Bon Secours Hampton Roads, which has filed for an on-site CT scanner and MRI system for outpatient surgical center in Harbour View.

-Riverside has proposed investing in an on-site CT scanner and MRI system, both of which would be based at a facility planned for the intersection of U.S. Route 10 and Brewers Neck Boulevard.