MRI being lifted into an opening by a crane.

Image courtesy of Loma Linda University Medical Center

Construction efforts on the new Loma Linda (Calif.) University Medical Center reached a major milestone with the installation of two magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) units. The MRIs, which took three weeks to install and calibrate, are the last major pieces to be installed in the new adult hospital, bringing the project one step closer to completion.

A giant crane lifted the MRIs, weighing 15,500 pounds and 13,000 pounds, to an opening created in the outside wall. Workers hand-moved each unit from the lifting platform, and physically moved each MRI along a carefully planned route to their permanent locations.

Because of the weight of the two units, special construction techniques were used to prepare for the MRI installation. The two units passed through hallways with permanent structural reinforcement built into the floors to support heavy machinery.

In each MRI suite, construction workers used special fiberglass rebar instead of structural steel in the concrete flooring. The room is also lined with copper, which shields the MRIs from outside magnetic interference and contains the magnetic field within each unit’s operational room. Hardware in the MRI area such as doorknobs and fasteners must be nonferrous, and the area has the only wood used in the entire construction project — a soffit surrounding lighting fixtures on the ceiling.

The new hospital building has been designed to ensure future ability to bring in large pieces of equipment as part of the ongoing maintenance plan. Workers can open various spots in floors, walls and roofs that will facilitate equipment being moved in or out, while the rest of the hospital remains operational.

A 29-member crew completed a carefully coordinated effort to install the units. The effort included 10 days of carefully planned prep work. 

The new medical center will house 320 beds for adult patients, while the new children’s tower will give the Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital a total of 343 licensed beds. 

The new facilities will also be a place where 4,700 Loma Linda University students and 700 residents will progress in their education.