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Sequoia MRI offering options to local patients
State-of-the-art center opened during summer
Patients requiring certain diagnostic procedures have a new option in town with the opening of California Medical Imaging Associates’ new lab — Sequoia MRI.
The new, state-of-the-art diagnostic imagine center located at 462 W. Putnam Ave., offers high-field MRIs, MRA, CT scans, digital mammography, bone density tests, breast and other ultrasound, X-rays and biopsies.
With two receptionists/schedulers and five technologists, the center is managed by office administrator Apriyl Benigno, and led by two of CIMIA’s Co-founders Dr. Frank Macaluso Jr. and Dr. Paul Loeffler. The Center’s lead CT technologist, Harry Lathrop, has 22 years experience.
“Sequoia MRI is a California Medical Imaging Associates facility owned and operated by trusted local radiologists who are dedicated in providing the highest level of full service diagnostic imaging exams in a professional and caring atmosphere to the neighboring Porterville physicians and their patients,” Benigno said. “We’re still in a wrap-up phase. We had a soft opening in July and our official grand opening on Aug. 28.”
The mammography portion of the center opens Oct. 9 to patients but the center’s MRI, MRA and CT scans are servicing patients.
“We started as an imaging center in Visalia but there was a big demand for this area. We noticed a lot of people were coming from the Porterville area,” Macaluso said. “We started getting a lot of requests from Porterville folks to take care of patients. It would be nice, they said, if they did not have to be sent to Visalia, Tulare or Bakersfield.”
The center is not a competition for the hospital, Macaluso said.
“We’re the little guys. We’re just doctors. But the whole community will benefit,” Macaluso said. “We didn’t skimp in anything. We just don’t have the massive infrastructure overhead.”
Sequoia MRI has the same magnetic field as the hospital does and all CMIA radiologists are U.S. trained physicians, certified by the American Board of Radiology.
One benefit of the center is that it has numerous sub specialties, including interventional radiology and pain control.
“We’re a very high quality Center. We don’t care about volume. We want to do the right thing for the patient and provide a good service,” Macaluso said.
There is also the understanding that the new clinic can do more for less, especially in light of ongoing state cuts as Governor Jerry Brown attempts to balance the state budget.
“We have to be able to see all patients and find a way to deliver medical care efficiently because all reimbursements have been cut,” Macaluso said. “A lot of patients and people in the community are not getting care. The object is to try to help these people. We’re here to help raise the bar.”
With CMIA started by a group of radiologists, the Association is made up of physicians from several practices.
“Our practice is collegial and relies heavily on collaboration,” Macaluso said. “We know our diagnostic decisions affect the lives of our patients. Therefore, we place high value on, and routinely seek, the input of our diagnostic colleagues and our referring clinicians in cases routine and complex, as experience has shown that different opinions frequently affect our diagnostic decisions.”
They also strive to make reports relevant — always including a differential diagnosis when appropriate, he said.
“In many cases we will offer management options and suggestions based on our knowledge of the case and the preferences of the referring physician, thereby providing ‘added value’ to our referrers, and ultimately to the patient,” Macaluso said.
Sequoia MRI, is also across the hallway from a full lab, Crestview Clinical — which is convenient for the Center, Benigno said, patients are able to complete radiological needs at the Center and lab needs a few steps away. An added benefit is that the Center has a neuro-surgery clinic through the Bakersfield Neuroscience and Spine Institute.
“Patients can come here to discuss the surgery and meet with the neuro surgeon and the surgery team. The actual surgery is done in Bakersfield, but the follow up care can be done here. It is a great benefit for the patient,” Macaluso said. “The more we can do here in the community and keep things in the community, the better. We’re here because there is a need for this.”
All physicians have well-established track records in leadership roles, in introducing procedures and techniques to their institution, and in promoting medical education by developing conferences and symposia on subjects pertaining to diagnostic medical imaging and image guided therapy, Benigno reported.
Macaluso, Jr. — president and co-founder of CMIA — is a native of New Mexico. He received his M.D. from the University of New Mexico and did his residency at Denver Presbyterian Hospital and UCSF, Fresno. He is a vascular and general interventional radiologist with certificate of added qualifications and extensive experience in peripheral vascular, renal and hepatic disease intervention, coronary CT imaging and vertebroplasty, PET/CT and most areas of general diagnostic radiology. Dr. Macaluso previously served as chair of the department of radiology at Kaweah Delta District Hospital in Visalia and is currently the co-medical director for imaging services at Tulare Regional Medical Center.
Loeffler is secretary and co-founder of CMIA. He is a native of the Chicago area, received his M.D. at Michigan State University and residency at Indiana University. He also trained at Naval Hospital San Diego and has long-standing ties with U.S. Navy medicine. Prior to co-founding CMIA, he served as chairman and medical director for the department of radiology at Kaweah Delta District Hospital and Sequoia Imaging Center in Visalia. He is also the co-founder of Visalia Imaging, Open MRI and Visalia Women’s Imaging Specialists.
Dr. Loeffler’s areas of expertise include neuroimaging MRI, body imaging and nonvascular interventional radiology, diagnostic and interventional mammography, including stereotactic biopsy, PET/CT and oncologic imaging.
“Referring physicians and medical imaging department partners can expect from us the highest level of customer service. Our goal is to have a radiologist available for consultation [24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year] from any location we serve,” Macaluso said. “We have no tolerance for unaccommodating or unprofessional behavior, and the individuals of our group lead by example. We have attained a hard earned reputation as quality oriented, skilled and accommodating service providers, and over the years we have developed strong ties with many physician groups from Madera to Kern County, and even to the west side of the Valley.”
Sequoia MRI is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday. To schedule an appointment, call 475-9091.
Contact Esther Avila at 784-5000, Ext. 1045. Follow her on Twitter @Avila_recorder