Photo by Kellen M. Quigley Bertrand Chaffee Hospital Chief of Radiology Dr. Anne Ehrlich (center) cuts the ceremonial ribbon opening the new MRI facility at BCH. With Dr. Ehrlich are State Sen. Patrick Gallivan (left) and BCH CEO Nils Gunnersen.

By Kellen M. Quigley

Friday, Jan. 24 was a big day at Bertrand Chaffee Hospital as hospital officials and community leaders gathered for a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the hospital’s new, permanent MRI facility

The construction of the new MRI facility is made possible through an $11.3 million grant from New York State Health Care Facility Transformation Program, awarded to Bertrand Chaffee Hospital in 2017, the largest in the hospital’s history.

Nils Gunnersen, CEO of Bertrand Chaffee Hospital, said installing the permanent MRI machine is just one of five aspects of the overall project that continues to advance the hospital’s place in the community.

“We had an MRI in the back of the hospital here for years, but it was in a trailer, so the experience from the patient’s standpoint was less than optimal,” he said. “So now we have a fixed, permanent MRI in place of that trailer.”

The other four parts of the project include building a Medical Arts Building to house primary care and provide specialty clinical space slated to open in late 2020, upgrading digital mammography to support 3D scans, purchasing a nuclear medicine camera to support our growing cardiology department and investing in a facility-wide electronic health record system.

“Bertrand Chaffee Hospital and Jennie B. Richmond Nursing Home are vital community assets for Springville and its surrounding communities,” Gunnersen said.

As a component of the hospital for nearly 40 years, Chief of Radiology Dr. Anne Ehrlich said the new MRI is an incredible achievement for the hospital. She said when she began at the hospital in 1982, it appeared to be a quaint, little place, but the people were so much more.

“These are real patients with real medical needs, and we deserve the best that we can get,” she said. “Through the years that I’ve been here, we’ve gotten fantastic equipment.”

Dr. Ehrlich said she had given her myself the attitude that the hospital would not see much of the new equipment that has come out, but with each new innovation, the hospital has had the leadership and resources to get “all these tech goodies.”

“This has been a great place to have a career, and my career is coming to and end, but this is kind of a crowning achievement for this department,” she continued. “I feel a personal stake in it and I’m very grateful for this community.”

Gunnersen said the project would not have been possible without support from the New York State Department of Health and advocacy from local state representatives bringing the hospitals needs to Albany to get the funding.

“Investments in our hospital and nursing home strengthen the local economy and improve health outcomes,” Gunnersen said. “The Department of Health recognizes our value and with their support, has enabled the recent investments in our diagnostic capabilities and information technologies and the current construction of our new MRI facility and Medical Arts Building.”

State Sen. Patrick Gallivan said the turnaround on support for smaller, rural hospitals is a testament not only to BCH itself but the community members who enure their local representatives are speaking on their behalf.

“Today is an exciting day, so congratulations to everybody for your efforts, and hopefully we’ll continue into the future,” he said. “The achievements are wonderful so far, but we’ve got to keep it up and continue to be a loud voice and make sure that we’re collectively serving the community.”