Neurology and Neurosurgery

Traumatic brain injury patient gives back to Vassar Brothers Medical Center

Portable MRI system at VBMC

8/10/2021

Vassar Brothers Medical Center is the first hospital in the Hudson Valley to have a portable MRI system

Michael Sternklar survived a traumatic brain injury (TBI), and now he and his wife Dorene are helping others in similar situations by donating a portable MRI system to Vassar Brothers Medical Center (VBMC).

VBMC is the first hospital in the Hudson Valley to have a portable MRI system, and one of the first in the United States. Care teams will use it in the intensive care unit (ICU) for the diagnosis and management of patients with neurological conditions such as brain tumors, strokes and TBIs.

Benefits of the portable MRI system include:
  • Mobility: The care team can move and position it at the patient’s bedside and capture the same imaging as a traditional MRI.
  • Safety: It has a low-field magnet and is safe to use within environments like emergency departments and ICUs. Care teams and loved ones can stay with the patient during imaging.
  • Speed: The care team does not need to transport the patient to the radiology department, and initial images are available within 30-seconds. The portable MRI system can also continuously monitor a patient’s condition and provide clinicians real-time information to assist in care management decisions.

The compact portable MRI system is about 3 feet wide and 4.5 feet tall. Its noise level during scans does not require anyone to wear ear protection, while traditional MRI machines typically do because they can be loud.
 

Portable MRI system at VBMC
Portable MRI system at VBMC


Sternklar fell backwards from 12-feet high off the ground and hit his head on a concrete floor. His health was declining quickly until he went under the care of neurologist Dr. Paul Wright, senior vice president and system chair of the Nuvance Health Neuroscience Institute.

“Dr. Wright coached me through a very difficult time — both mentally and physically. I could not appreciate more what he did for me and how he did it,” said Sternklar. “We wanted to do something meaningful and donating the portable MRI system was a no-brainer. Care teams will use it to assess medical problems quickly and save lives. If it helps save even one patient, then we will be forever grateful it made a difference.”

 

Michael and Dorene Sternklar with portable MRI system at VBMC
Michael and Dorene Sternklar with portable MRI system at VBMC

“Time to treat for stroke and traumatic brain injury patients is critical. The faster we get information to accurately diagnose and treat acute neurological problems, the better potential outcomes for our patients,” said Dr. Wright.

 

Paul Wright
Dr. Paul Wright, Senior Vice President and System Chair, Nuvance Health Neuroscience Institute


“The portable MRI system will transform the way we deliver care to neurological patients in the ICU. It will undoubtedly improve patient safety and staff satisfaction,” said Dr. Timothy Collins, chief of pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine and ICU medical director at VBMC.

Dr. Collins continued, “With this convenient imaging modality, critically ill or injured patients — who are usually connected to multiple machines — will be able to stay in their ICU room for the study. Saving this trip to radiology affords nurses the ability to stay on the unit without having to arrange for coverage while they are off it. The images will be available to the neuroradiologist faster and the ICU team will then have results in a timelier manner. It is truly a win-win.”

 

Dr. Timothy Collins, Chief of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine, ICU Medical Director, VBMC
Dr. Timothy Collins, Chief of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine, ICU Medical Director, VBMC


The portable MRI system matches the technological advances in the VBMC Patient Pavilion that opened in January 2021, which includes an ICU with 30 private rooms.

“The portable MRI system demonstrates our dedication to bringing innovative, quality and safe healthcare to communities in the Hudson Valley,” said Dr. Wright. “We are very grateful for Dorene and Michael’s generosity and their shared commitment to ensuring our patients have access to the latest equipment that can help them heal.”

Learn more about Sternklar and how he survived a TBI.

Learn more about Nuvance Health neurology and neurosurgery care.