NFMMC announces plans to build MRI imaging center

February 10, 2022

The $2.4mil project received $400k grant from Oishei Foundation

The John R. Oishei Foundation has awarded a $400,000 grant to Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center in support of the Medical Center’s capital campaign to acquire a 3T Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) unit, to be housed in a newly built center on Memorial’s tenth street campus.

The $2.4 million project will change the medical center’s footprint and bring a brand-new facility to downtown Niagara Falls. The MRI Imaging Center of Niagara will provide patients across the region with access to higher quality scans and faster diagnosis.

In addition, the new unit will directly meet the need of increased volume of scans necessary to keep pace with demands from the community which Memorial serves. 

“The new MRI imaging center will be state of the art.  Locating the center at the NFMMC campus will allow for immediate access to advanced imaging for our in-house, ED, Heart Center and Oncology Center patients without the need to transport a patient to another site with the associated delay in diagnosis.  The center will also provide an enhanced experience for outpatients,” said Dr. Mark Perry, Chief of Diagnostic Imaging at Memorial.

Keeping patients close to home and onsite for diagnostic imaging is an important factor in Memorial’s emergency services.

“The new MRI and center will greatly enhance the care of patients locally. This technology enables us to keep an even greater number of patients here at Memorial as opposed to transferring them out,” said Dr. Gerald Gorman, Chief of Emergency Services at NFMMC.

The campaign to acquire a new 3T MRI unit is about more than upgrading equipment, it is about providing equitable access and decreasing health disparities.

An essential component of population health, MRI scanning provides early detection of cancers and other diseases at treatable stages. Without accurate and specific diagnoses from imaging, patients will not have the appropriate treatment and health disparity gaps will widen.

Cancer services and early detection

Early detection is key when it comes to cancer. In Niagara County, breast cancer mortality is 18.2% higher than the state average and prostate cancer mortality exceeds the statewide rate by more than 27%. Worse yet, the death rate for lung cancer in the county is 49% higher than the comparable state rate.

In partnership with Roswell Park Comprehensive Care Network, the Golisano Medical Oncology Center, located on the fourth floor of the Medical Center, is providing chemotherapy and other advanced treatments to combat these high rates. The new MRI will be an essential tool in waging the battle against cancer as MRI scans find nearly 90% of all breast cancer and outperform CT scans for detecting prostate cancer.

One of a kind in Niagara County

The new 3T MRI will be the only one of its kind in Niagara County, facilitating growth in several of Memorial’s service lines.

The Heart Center of Niagara is a comprehensive cardiac care facility providing diagnostic, clinical and invasive services including cardiac catheterization. The MRI Imaging Center of Niagara will be conveniently located alongside the Heart Center, providing access to cardiovascular imaging that will better detect, monitor, and treat a wide range of heart conditions.

In addition, the new MRI will have features designed to make the patient experience more comfortable. The open configuration and faster scan times will enhance MRI service delivery to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities by reducing anxiety levels and permitting scans to be completed without the use of sedation or anesthesia. The duration and associated sounds of a scan are less, the patient bed is designed to minimize stress or claustrophobia, and a tilt able neck/head structure provides better neuro images.

The MRI Imaging Center of Niagara will also play a critical role in services at the Medical Center including sports medicine, orthopedic and bariatric surgeries, and Memorial’s Advanced Stroke Program.

When it comes to stroke care, minutes matter. Under the direction of University of Buffalo Neurosurgery’s (UBNS) internationally renowned endovascular team, the new 3T MRI on Memorial’s downtown campus will allow for convenient quick access to imagery that can uncover brain damage at the onset of stroke symptoms.

“In addition to Viz.ai and perfusion imaging to assess patients for urgent thrombectomy, the 3T MRI will give us the capability of diagnosing and treating minor to moderate strokes at NFMMC without the need for transfer,” said Dr. Kenneth Synder, UBNS neurosurgeon and Memorial’s Medical Stroke Director.

“This is one further step to maximizing expertise and treating patients within their community when appropriate. We welcome this wonderful advance in technological capability within the system,” said Dr. Synder.

Funds received from the Oishei Foundation come in addition to a funding commitment secured from the James H. Cummings Foundation for $125,000. Together, both contributions kick off the campaign and advance Memorial’s investment and commitment to narrowing disparities, improving clinical outcomes and providing earlier detection of cancer and other diseases.

“This advanced technology will provide better detection and diagnosis of all types of disease, especially in the acute setting of stroke patients. This is great news for our hospital and our community,” said Dr. Gorman. “Our medical staff and Emergency Department team is incredibly grateful.”

“The staff and Radiologists of Memorial’s Department of Radiology are thrilled that the Oishei Foundation is so generously helping us bring this long-held goal to fruition,” said Dr. Perry.

About the John R. Oishei Foundation

The John R. Oishei Foundation enhances the economic vitality and quality of life for the Buffalo Niagara region through grantmaking, leadership and network building. For more information about The John R. Oishei Foundation, visit www.oishei.org.

About Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center

Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center is a full-service, 171-bed regional medical center with extensive inpatient and outpatient services including The Heart Center of Niagara, Niagara Wellness Connection Center, Golisano Medical Oncology Center, Wound Center of Niagara, the OB/GYN Center and UBMD Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine. To learn more, visit www.nfmmc.org.

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