PAOLA — Getting an MRI at the Miami County Medical Center has never been easier or more comfortable thanks to a new unit that was purchased and put into service earlier this year.

The new machine is housed inside a recently constructed addition to the main hospital building, instead of an outdoor trailer where the previous machine was kept.

The new MRI unit is also wider than the previous machine, which hospital staff said has helped tremendously with patients who get claustrophobic in tight spaces.

Paul Luce, vice president of operations at Miami County Medical Center, recently spoke about the new unit to Paola Rotary Club members. He was joined by Pat Diehm, radiology manager, and DeAnn Banks, MRI technologist.

“You don’t have to go out of town to get a good MRI,” Luce said, adding that images can be sent to doctors at any location.

The total cost of the new MRI project was about $2.3 million, and the hospital got some support from the Olathe Health Charitable Foundation’s annual Moon Over Miami event. Last year’s virtual event was held in August and raised more than $72,185 for the new MRI machine.

This year’s Moon Over Miami event is set for May 7, and the proceeds are planned to be used to expand telehealth services for Miami and Linn counties.

The new MRI machine has been in operation since Jan. 20, and the old MRI trailer left Feb. 3.

Hospital officials said they have seen about a 15 percent increase in patients thanks to the larger size of the MRI machine and the fact that patients don’t need to be taken outside.

The new machine also scans a patient from head to toe without the need for repositioning, and patients can listen to their choice of music during the exam, according to a hospital news release.

MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging, and an MRI produces clear, clean and detailed images of internal structures. It uses radio waves, magnets and a computer to create detailed pictures of the body, and may help explain results from other imaging tests such as X-rays and CT scans, according to the release.

Senior Managing Editor Brian McCauley can be reached at (913) 294-2311 or

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