WonderWorks, Wonders of Flight, may not open on time because of a helium shortage. (Source: Kyle Grainger, WVLT)
SEVIER COUNTY, Tenn. (WVLT) -- From your wallet to your health, a shortage of helium is affecting jobs and your healthcare. Many businesses are having a hard time operating through the shortage.
It will not only cost more for a helium balloon, but could cost you the care you get at the hospital. Helium is used in MRI machines, and has already impacted care at UT Medical Center last year.
"We had a heck of a time getting 200L of helium with such short notice. it took us about a week and a half before we could do patients again and we had to bring it all the way in from Texas," said Dr. Alexander Pasciak, a Radiologist at UT.
Pasciak says with thousands of MRI's done a week, doctors would miss valuable information for people if the MRI machines couldn't run.
"Really right now there's not a good competing technology for super conducting MRI, most of the current scanners use helium," added Pasciak.
The helium shortage has the Wonders of Flight attraction at WonderWorks in Pigeon Forge on hold. Construction on the project is scheduled to be finished in July, but so far the company can't find helium to run the balloon.
"With the shortage that's there, no one can really pinpoint the time that we're going to be getting the helium," said Ed Shaffer, General Manager at WonderWorks. "We were hoping to have it ready for the new tourist season coming for the summer, so everyone would have a new experience in the Smokies. So It's a little frustrating we're not going to be ready for that date."
The $2 million attraction also stands to generate thousands of dollars in tax revenue for Pigeon Forge, and has limited dozens of jobs from being hired.