Joint Effort Lands PET Scanner

November 27, 2002
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GRAND RAPIDS — Fulfilling an earlier promise, Spectrum Health and Saint Mary’s Mercy Medical Center will unite to bring the first PET scanner to West Michigan.

Saint Mary’s and Spectrum plan to co-own a PET scanner in a third-party setting through a new joint venture known as Spectrum Health Saint Mary’s Shared Technology Services. Establishing PET services locally would cost $3.95 million, about $2.7 million of which would be cost for the equipment, according to a letter of intent filed recently with the Michigan Department of Community Health and the Alliance for Health.

Advanced Radiology Services, a group consisting of 14 radiologists, would operate the PET scanner on behalf of Saint Mary’s and Spectrum Health at its new quarters at 3264 North Evergreen Drive, near East Beltline Avenue in Grand Rapids Township.

Working together to bring high-cost PET technology to the market was “in the public’s best interests,” said John Mosley, Spectrum’s corporate vice president of strategy and business development.

“We want to make sure we use a PET scanner in the most economic and effective manner,” Mosley said.

PET scanners — short for positron-emission tomography — enables physicians to detect and diagnose several forms of cancer in their early stages, potentially avoiding invasive procedures, as well as to monitor the disease and plan a patient’s treatment. PET scanners are also helpful in treating heart disease and in the early detection of Alzheimer’s disease, and many expect the technology to rapidly evolve further into new areas.

The Michigan Certificate of Need Commission last December adopted new standards governing the use of PET scanners in the state. The rule change allows for the operation of as many as 18 new scanners — nine in southeast Michigan, and the other nine distributed equally around the state, with one of those earmarked for the Grand Rapids market.

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 means physicians in West Michigan who want a PET scan done on a patient have had to send them to the other side of the state.

Given the limit in the number of PETs available for the local market, the Alliance for Health’s Lody Zwarensteyn called the Saint Mary’s-Spectrum partnership “welcomed news.” Even if the state were to open the PET standard further, and allow more of the devices, cooperation on such costly technology is preferred, he said.

“They understand it’s a limited market and multiple units will not do the community any good,” Zwarensteyn said.    

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