The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust awarded the CNMI hospital a $6.4M grant this week, paving the way for the Commonwealth’s first MRI machine.

The funding will be used to build an MRI suite at the hospital on Saipan, which can provide over 1,200 scans a year, lessening the barrier to care that many seek. Funds will also be used for portable X-ray and ultrasound equipment for the hospital’s clinic on Tinian.

Walter Panzirer, a Trustee for the Helmsley Charitable Trust, said,“This state-of-the-art equipment will help these dedicated local healthcare providers save lives.

Additionally, it will save the government millions of dollars spent each year to fly residents off the islands for crucial medical care.”

“The residents of the Northern Mariana Islands deserve local access to essential health services, and having an MRI on the island will mean hundreds of our patients will not have to fly thousands of miles for a service that most people in the United States can access in their communities,” said CHCC CEO Esther Muna.

“We are immensely grateful for this generous support which will not only transform healthcare but also improve health outcomes to our island residents," Muna added.