Friday, May 29, 2009

Have MRI, Will Travel

One of the perks of being a journalist, or at least a columnist, is having an excuse to strike up conversations with just about anybody. I've gotten to know people in the porta potty maintenance business, a unicycling computer store owner, and now MRI technologist Harold Floyd.

He travels with Central Minnesota Diagnostic's Mobile Magnetic Resonance Imaging unit. The thing weighs a couple tons, and travels inside a semitrailer, visiting hospitals in this part of the state. That way, people in smaller towns can use up-to-date imaging technology without traveling an hour or more to a city.

I talked with Harold after he'd taken care of his last patient for the day at St. Damian's Hospital. The last one to show up, anyway.

Harold Floyd's been doing MRI scans for about three years. He's certified to use other imaging technologies, too. He spent around four years, learning which buttons to push and what not to do.

Safety is a big deal for people running MRI scanners. Their supercooled magnets have sucked everything from paper clips to a firefighter's air tank into an MRI's donut hole. The firefighter survived, but a six-year-old died, back in 2001, when a steel oxygen tank hit him.

On the lighter side, Harold showed me how the American Registry of Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technologists, ARMRIT, looks a lot like "armpit," if part of the "R" is covered.

He'd have told me more, but at that point it was time to head out to the next stop.

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