For the past several years, a mobile MRI trailer has visited the two hospitals with a half-day visit to Blue Mountain Hospital twice a week and a single half-day visit each week to San Juan Hospital.
The vendor recently announced that the existing equipment is obsolete and the service will be discontinued in coming months. After exploring a variety of options, local health care officials determined they could expand services and save money by partnering together.
With the new system, the hospitals will have access to the equipment in San Juan County every day of the week, with the time split between the two hospitals.
The price tag for the trailer and MRI equipment is $900,000. The mobile facility will feature refurbished equipment that has been upgraded with the latest MRI technology. The equipment will carry a two-year warranty.
The loan, made to the San Juan Health Service District, will be paid back to San Juan County over eight years and will have a 1.5 percent interest rate.
The plan is for each hospital to have their own staff to operate the system during the half-week it is resident at each facility.
Officials state that even with a $10,000 a month loan payment for the equipment, the hospitals will experience significant cost savings with the new equipment, particularly during the two-year warranty period.
Together, the two facilities are currently paying about $18,000 a month for the existing service.
After the two years, there will be an $8,000 per month service contract, which brings the total cost to $18,000 per month.
“We will explore any way we can partner with Blue Mountain Hospital if it will help us expand service in San Juan County and save money,” said Clayton Holt, chief executive officer at San Juan Health Service District, which operates San Juan Hospital.
The two competing health service entities also partnered to host a recent golf tournament that helped secure scholarships for a number of local students.
In addition, general surgeon Mario LaGiglia recently signed a contract to provide services at both facilities.
LaGiglia is set to return to San Juan County in the next year after completing his obligations to the U.S. military.