A medical imaging company has removed a portable MRI machine housed in a trailer in a Kendall office strip center, after Miami-Dade County officials determined that the machine and the adjoining building contained unpermitted and potentially dangerous electrical installations, and that the location wasn’t zoned for the machine.
The machine – which had been in operation for nine years – was removed from its location in a semi-trailer at Virtual Imaging on July 21. The trailer was parked under a blue canopy beside a Virtual Imaging center at 7101 SW 99th Ave. The same company owns several similar imaging centers throughout the county.
The indoor imaging center in Kendall remains operational while the owners work to bring them into compliance with building regulations.
Charles Danger, the building official of Miami-Dade County, said that Virtual Imaging had not been complying with any orders given to them – even after a meeting was held in May and a representative of the company said they would be fixing the electrical problems “very soon.” Finally, on July 11, the county sent Virtual Imaging a notice stating that the power of the entire facility, including the portable MRI, would be disconnected by FPL in five business days.
“They were begging for more time and we told them no,” he said. “So they have five working days to come in and try to submit what they need to submit for us to be able to work with them because I think they have gone a little too long.”
The county’s notice to Virtual Imaging stated that the property was determined to be a “hazard to life safety.”
“We are concerned because this is not just a light and a switch,” Danger said. “This is major equipment.”
During the five-day grace period, Juan Puig, the president of Virtual Imaging, entered into an agreement with the building department, which averted the order to disconnect power to the location.
The agreement, signed July 22, mandated that Virtual Imaging get rid of the portable MRI machine and obtain all permits necessary in order to legalize the inside of the facility and parking lot area. The facility was also mandated to pay all outstanding tickets and provide a certification letter that all electrical work is performed legally.
According to the settlement, Puig must have all plans for legalization of unpermitted work and all required permits obtained by Oct. 15. He has until Jan. 13 to finalize all work and inspections.
Danger said the building department became involved in 2011 after a complaint was made by a neighbor. The trailer was placed on the edge of the office strip, where it abuts a residential neighborhood.
But when an inspector was sent to review Virtual Imaging, he “didn’t mention the MRI machine on the outside, although in the pictures that he took you can see on the corner of the building, the MRI machine.”
“The inspector that went in 2011 just went over there, looked over the building, didn’t see anything, and he just moved on,” Danger said. “He didn’t do his job and then the neighbor called again.”
After that incident, the department went back for another inspection and cited the MRI machine, issued violations, and was able to get inside the building. Danger said what Virtual Imaging was doing was “not acceptable.”