FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – With patients usually having to go elsewhere to get an MRI, like Prince George, they won’t have to do that anymore with the announcement of a MRI machine coming to the Fort St. John Hospital.
UHNBC will also be getting a new machine, while Mills Memorial Hospital in Terrace is getting a machine too.
The process to get the MRI machines started back in 2012 when Northern Health hired a consultant to explore the options for MRI services in Northern BC says Angela De Smit, North East Chief Operating Officer.
Then in 2013, the consultant said that the replacement of the MRI machine at UHNBC was necessary, as well as establishing a mobile unit.
In 2014, they started to look at partnerships with foundations, ministry of health and began a 10-year medical imaging strategy that would help identify care closer to home.
The reason for the placement for the MRI machine that Fort St. John will be receiving was because the new hospital had set aside space that could be used for future placement of an MRI unit.
They did have the option between a moveable unit and a permanent unit, which they ultimately decided to go with the permanent units.
MRI imaging is also safer, using less radiation then a CT scan, according to De Smit. MRI also provides a better image to surgeons and doctors.
The Ministry of Health is committing $3.3 million, and the regional hospitals are also committing to $3.3 million. The Regional Foundation Campaign, which is not the FSJ Hospital Foundation, will commit to $1.6 million. That is the cost for all 3 machines.
Northern Health does around 5,500 scans a year. The new machines will also cut down on people having to go to Prince George and Alberta.
The initial goal was to have them installed by the spring of 2017. They are hoping to have them installed and services available by early 2017. There will be renovation costs, even at the new hospital. Where the MRI machine is going, is currently a meeting room, so they will have to do some changes.