GE Healthcare, a provider of healthcare information technology, will open its new $165 million manufacturing center in North Greenbush, Rensselaer county, New York, in a few months, but slowing demand for digital imaging equipment means it will take longer to ramp up its staffing and production. The digital X-ray detectors which are manufactured at the plant will be used in mammogram screening.
Much like the transition from paper medical records to streamlined electronic record keeping, digital X-rays are slowly replacing traditional film X-ray machines.
“And we don’t expect to bounce right back in 2010,” said Tom Feist, general manager of global X-ray operations for GE Healthcare.
Apart from the 100 new jobs scheduled for the plant, 50 people will transfer to the tech park from GE’s research center in Niskayuna. Positions at the new site will include 15 administrators, 15 engineers and 120 technicians and support staff. The average annual salary will be of $65,000.
The jobs will be phased in as demand dictates.
Regardless of the economy, the health care industry’s “mega-trend” toward electronic records points to the need for more digital equipment, Feist said. There’s a demand for digital mammographies because the test results the machines generate are immediate. Also, because there isn’t a need for film and cumbersome processing equipment, the technology can be used in remote locations.
“You see more people. It’s more effective at finding cancer at the early stages. It reaches underserved populations. And it’s greener,” said Feist.
The North Greenbush plant will be greener, too. The company expects the green construction will save GE Healthcare $1 million a year in energy costs, said Russell Bailey, a senior mechanical engineer with SMRT, the Maine-based architectural firm that designed the building.