Shields MRI Brockton takes delivery of 13,000-pound machine


BROCKTON — Once known for technological breakthroughs like Thomas Edison’s three-wire electrical system, Brockton hosted a new “first” on Wednesday.

Workers craned a state-of-the-art, 13,000-pound MRI machine into Shields Health’s flagship Brockton location. It’s the first MRI of its type in the Northeast, according to General Electric and Shields Health.

Named the Hero in honor of front-line medical personnel, the magnetic resonance imaging machine dramatically cuts the time patients must stay inside the clacking, whirring, claustrophobia-inducing device. A prostate scan that took 46 minutes with the facility’s old machine is over in just 15 minutes with the new one, according to estimates from Shields Health. The image quality is sharper, too, said Peter Ferrari, president of Shields Health.

“You think about the anxiety that a patient has sitting on the table. ‘Don’t move.’ The loud noises,” Ferrari said. “It’s one thing to equip yourself for a 45-minute scan where you have to kind of be braced for it. Knowing that it’s going to be 15 minutes changes your preparation, how we think about it, how the patient thinks about it, and then the images are better, which is fantastic.”

The 265 Westgate Drive facility opened the state’s first freestanding MRI in 1986, said Tom Shields Jr., CEO of Shields Health.

He remembers the grand opening. A visitor refused to put her handbag in a locker as requested before walking near the powerful magnet at the heart of the new medical imaging facility. As Shields tells it, the pocketbook raised up off her shoulder in the magnetic field. Alarmed, she thought someone was trying to steal her purse.

How did they install the MRI machine?

Wednesday’s installation of the new MRI machine took knowledge and patience from the trucker who drove the massive device up from Florence, South Carolina, to the crane operator and engineers from GE. They set up a staging area across the street in front of the old Sears building and carefully craned the MRI from the delivery truck to the pavement. Then came a move to a smaller flatbed truck capable of getting closer to the bay at the Shields facility, accomplished by dangling the MRI in the air as the second truck reversed under it. A slow “turtle walk” eventually brought the machine to its new location.

Ferrari declined to say exactly how much Shields paid for the Hero 3.0T (named for the strength of its magnet — 3 Teslas.) He said it was several million dollars, however.

Philanthropy for Stonehill, Boys & Girls Clubs and Trinity Catholic

Shields Health has deep Brockton roots. Founders Thomas Sr. and Mary Shields ran the Madalawn Nursing Home before risking everything on a 1980 plunge into the dialysis business. At that time, Brockton-area folks often had to go into Boston three times a week for life-saving filtering of their blood. The family went into the MRI business in 1986.

The company’s financial success allowed the Shields to donate millions to Brockton-area schools and services for young people. They gave $7M to Easton’s Stonehill College in 2009. They also gave money and time to Boys & Girls Clubs in Brockton and elsewhere. The family continues to support Trinity Catholic Academy, which Thomas Sr. and Mary helped to found.

Tom Jr.’s mother, Mary, was a native of Brockton’s Ward 2. He also married a Brockton girl, Patrice Gaynor of Pearl Street.

Send your news tips to reporter Chris Helms by email at CHelms@enterprisenews.com or connect on X at @HelmsNews.


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