GRAND RAPIDS — The first PET scanner operating in the Grand Rapids health-care market should go on line in September.
The scanner for the first time will provide local access to the high-tech medical imaging procedure, heretofore available only in Kalamazoo and in southeast Michigan, the site of three of the devices.
The fixed-unit scanner is to be housed in a new medical imaging center on Evergreen Street, off of East Beltline Avenue in Grand Rapids Township.
The installation will eliminate the need for patients to travel to southeast Michigan for a PET scan or to Kalamazoo, where the West Michigan Cancer Center earlier this year launched a mobile PET service.
“This is going to be a world-class level of PET services we’re going to offer here,” said Paul Shreve, M.D.
He is the medical director for PET and CT for Advanced Radiology Services, a group of 65 radiologists with offices in Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo.
“It’s going to improve the level of patient care,” Shreve added.
“This is becoming the standard measure of assessing and diagnosing people with most cancers.”
The PET scanner in a joint venture between Spectrum Health and Saint Mary’s Mercy Medical Center.
Advanced Radiology Services will operate and maintain the device, as well as offer CT and MRI services at the imaging center.
PET scanners — short for positron-emission tomography — enable physicians to detect and diagnose several forms of cancer in the early stages, potentially avoiding invasive procedures.
The scanners also can monitor the disease and help in planning a patient’s treatment.
PET scanners are also used in treating heart disease and in the early detection of Alzheimer’s disease.
Many people in health care expect the technology to rapidly evolve further into new areas.
“There are a lot of areas they’re moving into,” Advanced Radiology Services Administrator Lyn Savidge said.
Until recently, health-care providers in Michigan were essentially unable to venture into PET services because the state was not licensing any new devices.
That changed more than two years ago when the Michigan Certificate of Need Commission adopted new standards governing the use of PET scanners in the state.
The rule change provided for the operation of as many as 18 new scanners — nine in southeast Michigan, and the other nine distributed around the state.
Previous CON rules limited the number of PET scanners licensed in the state to three, all of which are held by hospitals in southeast Michigan.
That meant physicians in West Michigan who wanted a PET scan done on a patient had to send that patient to the other side of the state.
Savidge expects the new PET scanner in Grand Rapids to initially do eight procedures daily and ramp up to 15 or 16 per day.
If patient volumes dictate, the imaging center can move into evening and weekend hours, she said.
“I think it will be very busy, very fast,” she said.
In addition to the new imaging center, PET services in West Michigan could expand further.
Mercy General Health Partners, in a letter of intent to the Michigan Department of Community Health, indicated it plans to seek approval for a mobile PET scanner.