Photography by Amy McDermott
It wasn’t long ago that Montgomery County residents had to take a half day of work, jump on the highway, and search for Center City parking in order to visit one of Philadelphia’s renowned University hospitals to access world-class testing and imaging facilities. Much to the benefit of Montgomery County residents, though, a group of passionate doctors from Jefferson decided it was time for a change.
“When I was at Jefferson for my residency,” explains Dr. Adam Zoga, “I saw the high level sub-specialty care that was available to patients at Jefferson. I grew up in Reading, Pennsylvania and in talking to friends, realized that none of that was available in the suburbs – in Berks, Montgomery, and Bucks Counties.”
With imaging technology in a constant state of advancement, having tests performed on outdated equipment can mean the different between achieving health or missing the mark. And that’s in addition to many patients delaying or even foregoing recommended testing due to the burden of travel.
Dr. Adam Zoga, who is the Director of Ambulatory Imaging and Vice Chair for Clinical Practice at Jefferson’s Department of Radiology, was one of the proponents pushing for a change – to bring Jefferson expertise to a larger audience by opening outpatient facilities in the suburbs. “I realized very early in radiology that there’s a big difference between the type of technology available in the suburbs and small towns as compared to what is available at University Hospital centers,” he explains, “We really wanted to bring sub-specialty level care to patients who didn’t want to come to a University Hospital. To do that you need to buy good equipment.”
JOI’s Collegeville location, which opened in 2013, includes services like Arthrography, Wide Bore MRI, Ultrasound, Musculoskeletal Ultrasound, and X-ray services. Recently added is a late model high field strength wide bore MRI that is on par with any of the best scanners found at top University hospitals.
Plus, patients can also access additional testing like PET/CT, CT Dental Scans, Mammography, and DEXA at other convenient nearby locations including East Norriton and Northeast Philadelphia.
But Dr. Zoga points out that there is more to a top facility than the equipment: “You can’t just have a great piece of equipment. You have to have a sub-specialist radiologist interpret the results.”
Becoming a sub-specialized radiologist requires a five year radiology residency in addition to one year dedicated to the Physician’s chosen sub-specialty. Every test performed at a Jefferson Outpatient Imaging facilities is interpreted by a sub-specialized radiologist.
Beyond bringing equipment and expertise to the suburbs, though, the Jefferson Outpatient Imaging team knows that truly great service also requires authentic care and connections, especially in the medical field. JOI prioritizes connecting with the Collegeville community, whether that’s though everyday exceptional service; special events like their upcoming summer event; hosting seminars for local physicians; or forming relationships with members of the community like the athletes at nearby Ursinus College.
“We’re just as focused on customer service as we are on the imaging,” explains Jefferson Outpatient’s Marketing Coordinator Samantha Citerone.
This dedication is captured at every step of the process with JOI – from the technologists to the marketing team to the front desk.
When Suzanne Cristofaro, a Jefferson Outpatient technologist in Collegeville, noticed that her MRI patients were left staring at a blank wall during their procedure, she purchased a painting to fill the space.
“They’re compassionate. They’re very friendly and open and communicate with their patients about what’s going to happen,” says Citerone when asked about the staff at JOI Collegeville.
From the first step of the process, convenience and care shine through. Technologists directly call patients to confirm appointments, allowing them the chance to ask questions and calm any anxieties about the upcoming test.
Jefferson Outpatient’s Sales and Marketing Manager Gina Wahl explains why it’s importantfor technologists to speak directly with patients, “They really do their best to walk people through their upcoming test, and let them know what happens to put their minds at ease.”
An emphasis on relaxation is immediately apparent upon entering the Collegeville location. In the waiting room, patients can grab a fresh brewed cup of Keurig coffee and relax with a book or magazine. That same attention to detail carries through to services as patients tune into their favorite Pandora station during treatment and technologists offer seasoned tips on staying calm throughout the procedure.
“Occupy your mind,” is frequent advice offered by technologist Selly Alvarez. Whether it’s simply having a friendly conversation with a patient or suggesting a mentalexercise to make the time pass. “Try to think of all the people in your graduating high school class and before you know it, you’re done.”
After their appointments, patients receive a CD of their images and referring physicians are also able to log-in and viewtheir images and reports through a convenient web portal. Patients leave with a “Care Card” with follow-up information and who to contact with questions, concerns or feedback.
It’s no surprise that on occasion, a patient has stopped in just to catch up with their favorite staff member and that JOI receives glowing reviews from patients, which you can read in their “Friday Fan Mail”series on their Facebook page. Visit Jefferson.edu/JOI to learn more.