RI Medical Imaging bringing 'spa-like' experience to Johnston

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Rhode Island Medical Imaging is looking to turn what is often an uncomfortable experience into a pleasant, relaxing occasion at its Johnston location.

RIMI is slated to open its second state-of-the-art breast imaging center at its 1526 Atwood Ave. offices this December, and representatives offered an overview and tour of the space to the Johnston Sun Rise on Oct. 21.

The first center opened at the East Greenwich facility, where chief marketing officer Dana Nolfe has said the concept has received rave reviews. The center features a waterfall, spa music and warm, pink robes – rather than the usual gray hospital cover – for patients to wear. Women can also enjoy hot or cold beverages and read current magazines.

“They say they don’t want to leave, and typically when you go for a mammogram, you really want to leave,” Nolfe said. “Here, they want to stay because there’s so much pleasantness that goes along with the medical exam. [Reviews] have been very strong, and we wouldn’t be mimicking what we have as the experience in East Greenwich here in Johnston if that wasn’t such a positive experience for our patients.”

Siobhain Sullivan, executive director of clinical operations, said work began on the area in June, and that it is “very close to completion.” She said no details were ignored, down to the dimmed lighting and pictures on the walls.

“I think it’s more [that] we’re trying to make an exam that a patient has to have annually – and it’s an uncomfortable experience for a woman to have to do that – more comfortable,” Sullivan said.

Radiologist Dr. Brian Murphy added that environment is key when undergoing the routine but stressful procedure. While a greater focus is being placed on atmosphere, he was quick to remind that patients will still receive the same top-flight care once they exit the waiting room.

Mammograms, ultrasounds, biopsies, bone density training and more are among the services that will be offered on an outpatient basis, according to Nolfe.

“While we’re emphasizing the spa-like qualities and all that sort of stuff, it’s also exactly what you get in the hospital from the point of view of the science and the technology and the training of the technologists and the training of the radiologists and the equipment,” Murphy said.

Murphy recalled one instance in particular of a woman who, once she tried the East Greenwich’s unique, spa-like center, pledged she would never return to the hospital where she had undergone her previous tests.

“They’re going there for a screening, a mammography for a ‘routine’ test, but that routine is still pretty stressful and this gives you an atmosphere where you're not sitting beside some guy who’s got some horrible illness,” he said. “It’s a slightly different layout, but it’s the same atmosphere, the same attention to make it a boutique-like, spa-type thing. That’s something that’s unique to RIMI and definitely unique to this area.”

Murphy said the new RIMI location – which opened at the start of this year – was also aimed at making a more convenient trip for Johnston residents. Despite having 12 other offices throughout the state, Murphy said the town’s patients “haven’t had easy access” to RIMI facilities. The new office has changed that.

Murphy said RIMI had already fostered a strong connection with the community even before opening the doors on Atwood Avenue.

“We had a relationship with many of them, even though we weren’t physically located here, because they know that we offer the best services … We’re just emphasizing to them that now we’re right here, so it’s even easier,” Murphy said.

They have been steadily adding pieces throughout the year, such as ultrasound in August and CT scanning in September. The latter introduced a new 64-slice machine, which provides for quicker and higher-quality scans.

As work on the breast imaging center enters the home stretch, the trio hope to continue providing as much comfort as possible to their patients.

“It’s huge. It really makes the difference,” Murphy said. “We do everything that we do in the hospital. I think it’s phenomenal. There’s no sacrifice on the science side to make it nicer. It’s grade-A all through and it’s got that extra veneer of the spa.”

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