July 18, 2011
The picture of health isn’t always a conventionally pretty one. It’s usually black and white and sometimes out of focus. But it can save your life. Today’s picture of health is called imaging.
The Sedalia Imaging Center takes such pictures. The business opened in January and celebrated a grand opening last month. It provides MRIs, an abbreviation for Magnetic Resonance Imaging; DEXA scans, which detect calcium and minerals in bones; X-rays; and ultrasound images.
“We wanted to give people another option,” said Alice Kiburz, an ultrasound technologist at the center, in an interview on Tuesday. “We’re not affiliated with any other hospital.”
In the past, X-rays and other imaging exams were usually done at hospitals, but specialty health service businesses are popping up. The only other place in Sedalia that offers imaging is Bothwell Regional Health Center.
Kiburz said flexibility is one of the center’s strong points.
If you have a doctor’s order, you can make an appointment, or in some cases, drop in, have an exam and be on your way. You don’t deal with physician or hospital bureaucracy.
“DEXA and X-rays are done on a walk-in basis,” Kiburz said. “They come in and get their tests done. There’s not any preparation.”
Though the imaging center opened in January, Kiburz said its grand opening was delayed because the business wanted to make sure insurance companies would cover the work done there.
“It took a while to get insurance companies aboard,” she said.
Business is great, she said. “As we’re bringing more insurance companies on line, they are bringing more patients to us, and we’re getting more referrals from existing customers.”
Kiburz also said the rates Sedalia Imaging Center charges can be hundreds “and sometimes a thousand” dollars less than rates charged by hospitals.
“We offer good rates for our pay patients,” she said, adding that in some cases, people would rather pay for exams out of their own pocket rather than going through an insurance company, even if they have insurance.
“Some people have found it to be less expensive than to wait for insurance, and they go ahead and have the exam,” she said.
The equipment is more advanced at the center than in other places, as well, Kiburz said. She cited its open MRI machinery, which, instead of enclosing patients in a tube, is open on the sides, making it less claustrophobic. The machine also can hold patients weighing as heavy as 500 pounds.
“The technology improves all the time,” she said.
One of the more popular exams is called the 3D/4D OB ultrasound. This is done in a room large enough for a family, featuring a large flat-screen TV, where everyone can view the first photos of a fetus in the womb.
“It’s really kind of an event,” Kiburz said, with customers getting those photos placed on a compact disc, which then can be posted on a Facebook page.
These exams don’t require a doctor’s order and cost $120.
“People want their children to be part of the experience,” Kiburz said, adding that it seems easier for customers to schedule a 3D/4D OB ultrasound rather than take the family to a doctor, especially if the family’s primarily interested in getting photos.
“We do have a well-qualified staff,” Kiburz said, emphasizing how staff members have had fellowships to get specialized training. All of the technicians are board certified.
Kiburz is a University of Missouri-Columbia graduate who previously worked at Fitzgibbon Hospital in Marshall.
Other technicians are Krista Phillips, on X-ray and DEXA scans, and Richard Schumacher, who does MRI scans. Belinda Hicken handles office duties. Lasha Dalakishvilli is office manager.
Kiburz said the business is owned by a group of physicians.
Phillips is a graduate of Otterville High School, and Kiburz is a Smith-Cotton alumna who lives in Sedalia.
“It’s a benefit to know the people who are here,” she said.