The new MRI machine (beyond the glass partition) at the Bangur institute. (Sushovan Sircar)
A defunct MRI machine that cost a neuroscience institute director his job during a hurricane visit by chief minister Mamata Banerjee two years ago has finally been replaced.
The Bangur Institute of Neurosciences (BIN), whose former director Shyamapada P. Ghorai is under suspension, got a new machine on Wednesday that can conduct tests on up to five patients an hour.
A 3-Tesla Magnetic Resonance Imaging unit has been installed under a public-private partnership (PPP) model at a cost of Rs 11 crore, replacing the outdated 11-year-old 1.5-Tesla machine at the institute. It’s a joint venture between the state department of health and family welfare and a private diagnostic centre.
The sole MRI unit at BIN has been closed since January for a much-needed overhaul.
Soon after assuming power in 2011, Mamata Banerjee had visited BIN and hauled up Ghorai for the outdated MRI machine that had stretched the waiting time of patients to over six months.
When Mamata demanded to know why patients had to wait several months for an MRI scan, Ghorai replied that it was the only machine serving an entire state. Then the chief minister asked why the super specialty institute did not have a second machine, he responded by saying that there was no space for another one.
“I have written thrice to the government in response to the showcause, the last one was earlier this year. I am yet to hear from the government,” Ghorai said.
A single MRI unit requires three rooms to operate and a total floor area of at least 2,400sq ft. While a new MRI unit was sanctioned in 2011 during Ghorai’s tenure, it had to be installed in SSKM hospital because of lack of space at Bangur.
It may have taken a few hours on May 26, 2011, to replace Ghorai with a new director but it took over two years to install a new machine at the neurosciences institute to prevent the backlog of patients waiting for an MRI scan.
Senior officials of the institute said a year and six months were spent on planning, floating tenders and finalising a partnership with a private agency. It took three months to dismantle the existing machine and another three to install and test the new one.
“The bidding process took some time. We have tried our best to have the new machine up and running for the people,” current director Asit Kumar Senapati told Metro on Wednesday.
The MRI unit will be open 24x7 and patients will be scanned the day they register. Senapati said the machine completes a scan in about 12 to 14 minutes.
Doctors said the old 1.5-Tesla machine could manage only about 10 patients in 12 hours, while the institute got over 40 patients requiring scanning every day.
Though SSKM also has a similar machine, the one at Bangur is equipped with a day pptimised throughput engine and total imaging matrix technology.