Gary uses a 3 iron and a 3T MRI (without leaving town)…

Now only SIH has the region’s first 3T MRI, offering convenient access to the strongest clinical magnet available.

For more information about Imaging Services, call 866.744.2468.

Gary Etherton, an MRI technician for Memorial Hospital of Carbondale, was born and raised in nearby Makanda, IL. An avid outdoorsman, Gary likes to spend his spare time enjoying a variety of outside activities that southern Illinois is known for. “I’m an avid golfer and I like to hunt and fish too!” shared Gary. Don’t be surprised to find Gary golfing at the Jackson County Country Club or fishing at Cedar Lake.

In May of this year, Gary celebrated 41 years as an imaging technician. During his career, Gary has witnessed revolutionary changes in healthcare—especially in the diagnostic imaging capabilities offered to this region.

When he began here in 1972, the diagnostic capabilities that we take for granted today like CT and Ultrasound did not exist in the region (and MRI hadn’t been invented yet). “People had to either go to St. Louis, Springfield or even Evansville for these exams,” Gary recalled.

It wasn’t until 1976 that Memorial Hospital of Carbondale got its first ultrasound device. But even then, as Gary notes, “Ultrasound at the time was only used by obstetrics to check the health of a baby. It’s grown over time to include vascular, cardiac and so much more.”

Next came CT in 1984 and then a few years later a mobile MRI unit began to come to the region. Gary said, “In 1989 or 1990, we bought and housed our first MRI machine at Memorial Hospital of Carbondale.” Since those days, Southern Illinois Healthcare has strived to stay at the forefront of diagnostic technology in order to provide the highest quality care for its patients.

“SIH has been great about keeping us up with current technology and the training we need,” Gary added.

Commitment to Patients

One thing that Gary feels that people may not know about imaging professionals is “that the people that go into imaging are dedicated to healthcare. They have to go through a lot of training. So there are additional classes and certifications that are ongoing, but it’s all about patient care. You have to keep up with the technology and keeping up with the technology helps the patients.”

Latest Imaging Capabilities

Recently Southern Illinois Healthcare added a new 3T MRI. With a magnet that is twice as powerful as the previous instrument and a host of other key features, the 3T MRI provides southern Illinois physicians with a state-of-the-art diagnostic imaging tool.

Gary had this to say about the 3T MRI, “Technology just keeps getting better and as technology gets better, the image quality and what you are able to visualize increases and it’s a plus for patients and physicians.” He adds, “It’s a big step for the community.

Especially, with it being the first one in the area outside of St. Louis.”

“You know these people for years were sent out of the area and now they are all taken care of right here. It’s been a blessing for the community,” Gary added.

Connecting with Patients

When reflecting on his 41 years of services, Gary shared why he continues to love his job helping the people of southern Illinois.

“I guess the thing that strikes me as a MRI technician is that people come in and they’re in their ‘everyday life’ mode and they’ve got a symptom. A headache, a pain somewhere and we scan that patient and we find something on the 3T MRI. We see a tumor or an aneurysm that we were unable to see before and the reality is that the patient’s life changed at that point. I guess what I appreciate about the technology is that a lot of the patients that I have found those tumors in—they’ve been treated and then they come back at various times for checkups and are good to go! We’ve found it, we’ve treated it and people continue on with their lives. This is a big plus for anyone! This is what I do this for!”

For more information about Imaging Services, call 866.744.2468.