FSJ CT Scanner already in use in Prince George

Some Fort St. John residents have already been inside Fort St. John’s new CT Scanner.

That’s because for the past several months, the scanner has been in use at Prince George Regional Hospital. Northern Health is now admitting that the "new" scanner Fort St. John has been fundraising for isn’t so new after all.

Until this month, the Toshiba 64-slice CT Scanner was installed at Prince George Regional, where it performed more than one thousand, five hundred scans since its installation in April of this year. It’s the result of an arrangement by Northern Health to get Prince George a 320-slice scanner, a newer, more accurate technology than the 64-slice one they’re currently using. The 64-slice scanner was purchased through a grant from the BC Health Innovation Fund.

Sources say that the machine was purchased as a placeholder for a 320-slice scanner, as one of the stipulations of the Health Innovation funding required that equipment purchased with grant funding be installed by a certain date, and the 320-slice would not be installed in time. A spokesperson for Northern Health would neither confirm nor deny this.

Photo: The Prince George Citizen’s David Mah took this photo at a press conference earlier this year. This photo shows the Fort St. John machine in use in PG.

Fort St. John’s scanner was taken out of use at PG Regional earlier this month in order to prepare for the arrival of their new 320-slice scanner, which is slated to be installed this October. Even with the 64-slice scanner not in use and the 320-slice scanner still not installed, Prince George Regional doesn’t need to take patients elsewhere for their scans. That’s because they’ve had an additional CT Scanner installed for some time.

Press releases from Northern Health set the value of the 320-slice scanner project at over $2 million, 1.5 million of which was provided by the BC Health Innovation Fund and Northern Health. Meanwhile, Fort St. John is still trying to raise $1.3 million dollars in donations from local residents and businesses to pay for the 64-slice scanner currently sitting at Prince George Regional.

Until very recently, the Fort St. John Hospital Foundation, who’ve been fundraising to buy the scanner, weren’t aware that the scanner they’ve beem raising money for over the past year was in use in another community during much of that same year. Sonya Kruger, Communications Officer for Northern Health, says the authority didn’t intend to keep the Fort St. John Hospital Foundation out of the loop. [asset|aid=319|format=mp3player|formatter=asset_bonus|title=04d15fae076505b01f7134a3312b7367-Sonya – Whoops_1_Pub.mp3]

Kruger also suggested that there were advantages to the used machine. Software glitches experienced while the machine was running in Prince George have now been ironed out, meaning those glitches won’t delay the implementation of the machine here in Fort St. John.

Questions have also been raised about the price Fort St. John is paying for the device. Documents from East Central Health in Alberta set the capital costs for a scanner for a hospital in their region at 1.15 million. That scanner is the same make and model of the one slated for Fort St. John. Kruger suggested that the disparities between CT Scanner prices may include the cost of renovation and installation.