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ECMC Officially Opens New MRI Center in Memory of Radiology Chief

BUFFALO, NEW YORK; August 31, 2011-Erie County Medical Center (ECMC) Corporation, today, officially opened and dedicated its all-new MRI center to the memory of the late mentor and colleague Dr. George Alker Jr.  The new center is now officially known as the George J. Alker Jr. MD, MRI Center at ECMC.

Dr. Alker was Chair of the E.J. Meyer Memorial Hospital and ECMC Radiology Departments and Professor and Chair of Radiology for the State University of New York at Buffalo (UB).  He performed cutting edge work in the field of imaging of trauma victims, especially those injured in motor vehicle accidents, and was a leading voice in the seat belt safety movement for automobiles.  Along with the late Dr. Edward Eschner, also a former Chair of the Department of Radiology at UB; Dr. Dan Bednarek, Radiation Safety Officer, ECMC; and Ben Kutas, retired Chief Radiologic Technologist, ECMC; Dr. Alker also established the beginnings of the Museum of Radiology and Medical Physics at UB and maintained a collection of historical artifacts significant to radiology and clinical medicine at the Erie County Medical Center. 

With the new MAGNETOM® Verio MRI scanner from Siemens, patients coming to ECMC for routine Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans will experience a unit designed for maximum comfort with a large, patient-friendly one foot of spacious headroom.  The tight confines in older MRIs are now a thing of the past.  The scanner offers ECMC physicians some of the most advanced MR imaging services available.  The system provides excellent image quality and superb diagnostic capabilities. 

"Opening our new MRI Center in memory of such a well respected physician as Dr. Alker is a fitting tribute," said Jody L. Lomeo, Chief Executive Officer, ECMC Corporation.  "The new technology will allow our doctors to have one of the widest ranges of imaging capabilities while being able to better serve and satisfy an increased number of patients." 

 "Our board decided unanimously to name the new MRI Center in Dr. Alker's memory," stated Sharon L. Hanson, Chair, Board of Directors, ECMC Corporation.  "We are also pleased to be able to offer the new technology and added conveniences for our patients." 

"Neuro-radiologist Dr. Alker and physician colleagues Border, Seibel and LaDuca were instrumental in conversion of ECMC into the outstanding trauma hospital it is today.  I can think of no more appropriate name for the MRI service at ECMC than Dr. Alker's," stated Timothy G. DeZastro M.D., Chief, Department of Radiology and Imaging Services, ECMC.  "Our new facility now includes one of the most cutting-edge pieces of MRI equipment available, operating at the highest clinically used field strengths while offering exceptional patient comfort." 

At 3T, the MAGNETOM Verio boasts the strongest magnet field strength used clinically today and gives ECMC physicians access to many applications, including neurology evaluations, orthopaedic and cartilage assessment, and vascular and cardiac imaging.  The system's large 70-cm opening is wide enough to accommodate a diverse array of patients including individuals who have traditionally been hard to image, such as children, those who are obese (up to 550 lbs), the elderly, and those who are claustrophobic.  The MAGENTOM Verio, utilizing Total imaging matrix technology, has up to 102 seamlessly integrated matrix coil elements and up to 32 independent radiofrequency channels which allow flexible coil combinations that make patient and coil repositioning virtually unnecessary.  This allows increased speed for most MRI exams. 

MORE ABOUT GEORGE J. ALKER JR. M.D.: Dr. Alker (1929-1991) was born in Hungary and was very proud of his heritage.  He was a survivor of WWII, spent time in a refugee camp, and later served as a U.S. Army Medical Officer in the late 1950s.  He completed his residency at the E.J. Meyer Memorial Hospital and continued working at Meyer/ECMC for the remainder of his career.  While at ECMC, Dr. Alker specialized in neuro-radiology, published in many journals, and won several awards for his writings.  He built a strong relationship between radiology and neurology and is internationally recognized in cervical spine neuro-radiology.  UB honors Dr. Alker by presenting an award in his name to the outstanding medical student who plans to study radiology.  Dr. Alker's life revolved around medicine and training and anyone who trained with him is a better doctor or technologist because of him.

ABOUT ERIE COUNTY MEDICAL CENTER: The ECMC Corporation includes an advanced academic medical center (ECMC) with 550 inpatient beds and 136 skilled-nursing-home beds, on- and off-campus health centers, more than 30 outpatient specialty care clinics and a long-term care facility.  ECMC is the regional center for trauma, burn care, transplantation and rehabilitation and is a major teaching facility for the University at Buffalo.  Most ECMC physicians, dentists and pharmacists are dedicated faculty members of the university and/or members of a private practice plan.  More Western New York residents are choosing ECMC for exceptional patient care and customer service-the difference between healthcare and true care. 


Tom Quatroche: 716-898-5503 -or- tquatroc@ecmc.edu

Joe Cirillo: 716-898-4300 -or- jcirillo@ecmc.edu   



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