Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 46
 
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
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It’s New to Us by Jean Stratton



KEEPING HEALTHY: Two staff members of Radiology Affiliates Imaging (RAI) in Lawrenceville are shown by the mammography machine. From the left are Barbara Kent, mammography technologist and Amanda Santarsiero, X-ray and bone density technologist.

Radiology Affiliates Imaging in Lawrenceville Offers Full Range of High Caliber Imaging Services

MRI, CT scan, mammography, X-ray, ultrasound — if you are faced with one of these procedures, it can be scary. What will the results be? No one likes to undergo such testing, and intangibles, such as the attitude of the personnel, the surroundings, and the general atmosphere, can make a difference.

Radiology Affiliates Imaging (RAI) knows this. For more than 30 years, this organization has provided the highest level of imaging technology. With two locations, in Hamilton and Lawrenceville, RAI was the first to bring digital mammography, 3 T MRI, and breast MRI to Mercer County.

The RAI Lawrenceville location at 3120 Princeton Pike in the Lawrence Executive Center, opened the suite for Women’s Imaging, including mammography, and bone density, last year in addition to its already established MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) and CT (computer tomography) testing equipment.

Its focus is not only on this high quality advanced technology and the finest diagnostic physicians, however, but on the comfort of the patients.

“Sky Ceiling”

“We offer very specialized and personalized treatment,” says former nurse Ruth Hawthorne, director of marketing and physician liaison. “Our hospitality, including coffee, tea, snacks, and little gifts such as lip gloss and nail polish, and our attractive setting, sends a message that we care, that we offer the nicest atmosphere for people who may be undergoing difficult circumstances.

“We try to reduce the patient’s anxiety. In the CT scan room, for example, there is a soothing ‘Sky Ceiling’ above, resembling the sky, clouds, and trees with spring blossoms. It lets the outside in, and also gives the patient a dose of Vitamin D.

“Our suite for Women’s Imaging is unique,” she continues. “We did 50,000 mammographies last year. It’s a place for education with materials and literature, and a soothing, tranquil setting. We offer books as well as magazines. We can also do biopsies here, if necessary.

“We do lots of MRIs, and if patients are nervous about this procedure, they can have a family member or the technician come in the room with them. We try to make it as relaxed and comfortable as we can.”

At Ease

Certainly, the extent to which RAI goes to help patients feel at ease is unusual in today’s high tech and often impersonal world. The quality both of the personnel and the equipment is state-of-the-art, points out Ms. Hawthorne. “RAI has maintained its accreditation by the American College of Radiology for more than 25 years. The practice is board-certified and sub-specialty trained radiologists are joined by a highly qualified team of technologists and support staff.

“We blend the best radiologists, those with long experience, and the best technicians with the newest, latest technology,” she adds. “We have reduced-radiation equipment. For example, the radiation on our CT scan has been reduced by 70 percent.”

The technology is advancing all the time, she notes, and RAI has the area’s first 3 T MRI, which features the strongest magnet available for acquiring fast, detailed images.

Digital X-ray with low dose radiation offers increased speed and reduced exposure. RAI was also quick to introduce full-field digital mammography with CAD (computerized aided detection), which greatly improves the accuracy of breast imaging.

The new technology means fewer images, greater comfort for the patient, and a much lower overall radiation dosage without sacrificing image quality — important for everyone, and especially for juvenile patients.

“We have a lot of children coming in for X-rays,” says Ms. Hawthorne. “Our patients are really all ages and from all over the area.”

Radiation-Free

Ultrasound is another procedure offered by RAI. A radiation-free test that uses high-frequency sound waves rather than X-rays, it creates detailed images of internal structures. It is useful in numerous ways, including further assessing a finding on a mammogram or helping determine the development and gender of a fetus.

Still another important opportunity RAI provides is Coronary Calcium Scoring. A non-contrast CT scan, it can be used to find build-up of calcified plaque in the walls of the arteries of the heart. Because calcium is a marker of coronary artery disease, the amount of calcium detected on a cardiac CT scan is a helpful diagnostic tool in finding this at an early stage.

“We also look forward to having a new laser treatment, guided through ultra sound, for spider and varicose veins,” says Ms. Hawthorne.

Most of the procedures are covered by insurance, she adds, and if a patient is uninsured, RAI will make special arrangements for a payment plan. “Our patients are always foremost. We make sure they get results the same day of the procedure. If there is a delay of more than 20 minutes for a patient’s service, they will get a $10 gift certificate for Target. It’s our way of saying we’re sorry for any inconvenience. We know patients’ time is valuable too.

Whole Package

“Also, let us know if something is not right with our service, and we can make it better. People can put their comments on our website. We really focus on customer service. It’s the whole package.”

She also points out the importance to patients of selecting an imaging center. “Under most insurance plans, patients may choose to go to whatever imaging center they want. Keep in mind that the equipment and the people reading it can be different. We’re very lucky to have access to many fine doctors who refer patients here.

“One of our patients, Karla Stein, had had eight years of mammograms at another imaging center, and she had been very diligent about going every year; she never missed. When she came to us, our radiologist found she had stage 2 breast cancer, which the other facility had missed. She had a double mastectomy, and she is now doing well.

“I am so pleased about how many lives we have changed; most of it is so positive,” she continues. “Please remember you have a choice where you go. And the little gifts we offer are a way to thank people for taking care of themselves.”

RAI is open Monday through Thursday 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday 8 to 5. Call for Saturday appointments. (609) 585-8800. Website: www.4RAI.com.

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