By K. Richard Douglas
The city of Columbia, Tennessee lies south of Nashville in Maury County. Maury Regional Medical Center, a 275-bed facility, serves the area in a region of rolling hills just west of the Cumberland Plateau and the Blue Ridge. The hospital has been around for more than a half century.
The medical center is the flagship of the Maury Regional Health System which was named one of the nation’s top 15 health systems by Truven Health Analytics. It is the largest health system between the cities of Nashville and Huntville, Alabama. The health system boasts more than 3,000 employees.
Other facilities in the system are the Marshall Medical Center, Wayne Medical Center and Lewis Health Center in the counties of the same name in southern Middle Tennessee. Maury Regional Health also includes the Maury Regional Medical Group; a network of physician practices in the same counties.
The imaging inventory, among the three hospitals and eight offsite facilities, includes eight CTs, four MRIs and 43 fixed rooms, including about 120 pieces of equipment total. Caring for this imaging equipment is an imaging service department consisting of three imaging engineers.
“Our shop, Imaging Services, is physically separated from biomed, but is paired with them as a part of the Healthcare Technologies Management Department,” says Eric Mann, an imaging engineer III in the department.
“We cover pretty much anything in the Maury Regional Health network that is a piece of imaging equipment: CTs, MRIs, X-ray rooms, R&F rooms, cath labs, C-arms, mammography, bone density, portable X-ray, ultrasound and some nuclear medicine,” Mann says. “We’ll be adding PET/CT to the list in the very near future.”
Mann says that the only equipment they don’t service internally are the nuclear medicine cameras. They plan to add that expertise in the future but just don’t have anyone trained on the equipment currently.
The department does a good job of keeping current on training and utilizes a number of approaches depending on what is required to be able to repair their devices.
“We try to utilize any option available for training, whether it’s through the OEM, an ISO, or a third-party company. We try to keep with the OEM, though, for equipment-specific training as it’s helped us with licensing and access to service keys. We’ve used companies like RSTI for the introductory and non-vendor specific courses to train a few of the engineers that were new to the shop and career field,” Mann says.
The three engineers act almost like an imaging procurement department alongside their maintenance duties. They are very hands-on in the process.
“We’ve become very involved with all aspects of purchasing new equipment. We’re there from the initial sales presentations, through negotiations and during installation,” Mann says. “The three of us are able to source parts, call in third-party labor and provide any user training we can as needed.”
“Negotiating service agreements or contracts has become one of my additional tasks, which was my reason for attending ICE 2017, I hadn’t done that prior to this and was hoping to pick up some tips; which I did,” Mann says, referring to the July 2017 Imaging Conference and Expo that was held in Washington, D.C.
Mann says that the department has someone fully trained on almost every piece of equipment they service. For a three-man team, they have the expertise on nearly all modalities covered well.
“I myself am trained on our CTs, MRIs, and am in the process of going to the OEM classes for our ultrasound units,” he says. “Once the PET/CT is purchased, I’ll be attending those classes as well, if it’s a vendor I’m not already trained on. We have another gentleman trained on the portable X-ray, C-arms, cath labs, along with some general X-ray/R&F training. The other gentleman is trained on our mammography units, bone density and general X-ray.”
The group has kept busy with maintaining current equipment and haven’t tackled too many major projects. One planned project recognizes the need for a continuous power supply for some of the imaging equipment.
“Other than assisting with the planning of ‘turn-key’ MRI suites, we’ve not had the chance as of yet to work on many special projects. I’ve recently started a project where I’m trying to get an external UPS unit (outbuilding sized unit) installed that would be able to handle multiple imaging or surgical suites at one time,” Mann says.
“This is due to whenever we run our monthly generator tests, or there is a power outage, one or more of the pieces of equipment does not come back up. And, as we all know, down time equals lost money, which adds up quickly and makes for a very squeaky wheel,” Mann adds.
For a small imaging department, the Maury Regional imaging service team brings big expertise and coverage to the system.