SANTA ROSA -- Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital recently unveiled a new $3 million MRI scanning system that the trauma center says will significantly improve patient experience while making the jobs of physicians easier.

The new system features a 70-centimeter, extra wide-bore opening, which for the moment the first such operational technology north of the Golden Gate Bridge, according to St. Joseph Health-operated Memorial.

"It's less invasive, safer, quicker and gives you valuable images," said Roger Klein, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon at a recent open house for the device. "When we're triaging trauma patients, we can move a lot faster."

That's a particularly attractive selling point for Memorial, which treats the most seriously injured patients, often for other hospitals in the region, Dr. Klein added.

Among other things, Memorial's new MRI can accommodate a wider range of patients, many of whom often feel claustrophobic and are reluctant to have MRI scans, physicians at the hospital said.

Additionally, image quality is far superior and faster, enabling the hospital to more quickly view serious injuries and get patients back into the emergency department or operating rooms. The hospital can average up to 20 MRI scans on a busy day, according to Siobhan Nebesky, imaging supervisor at the hospital.

Memorial first started using its new system in August.

Sutter Pacific Medical Foundation's North Bay Health Plaza will have a similar scanner when it opens in north Santa Rosa on Jan. 21.